Friday, November 19, 2021


Growing up, I knew of caramel as cooked or fried sugar. And even though caramel is truly timeless and wonderful in so many desserts, I will always associate it with colder weather, perhaps late autumn or early winter. The aroma of caramel tea, caramel milk, caramel brandy, even; those simply take me back to those blissful childhood moments next to my Grandmother's wood stove.
I truly consider making caramel one of life's simple pleasures. It is incredible how grounding it can be to simply observe the tiny sugar crystals melt and turn into tiny drops of amber, to enjoy the moment and the process.
This rich little cake combines the deep caramel custard base with vegan white chocolate, and some additional vegan caramel sauce. It is just perfect after a hearty lunch, or simply with a tiny cup of espresso and some quiet time.
Keep in mind that the layers may get a tad messy and imperfect while assembling, but that will never take away from the final flavour or the beauty of this cake. Or any cake, for that matter. As long as it was made with love, it is always beautiful.

For the caramel cake layers
350 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
200 grams dark brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
400 millilitres warm water
25 millilitres vegan cream liqueur
60 millilitres vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the white chocolate caramel filling
550 millilitres soy milk
80 grams cornflour
150 grams granulated sugar
100 grams vegan white chocolate, chopped
150 grams vegan block butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the vegan caramel sauce
100 grams granulated sugar
100 millilitres plant double cream
30 grams vegan block butter, diced
¼ teaspoon salt

Start by making the white chocolate caramel filling. Take a heavy-bottomed saucepan, tip in the granulated sugar, and gently shake the pan to somewhat distribute the sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together 100 ml of cold milk with the cornflour and the vanilla, and set it aside. Reserve the rest of the milk. Place the saucepan on medium high heat, and let the sugar melt, and then start to cook. Without disturbing the sugar too much, let it cook for about 7-8 minutes, until it becomes a deep amber colour. Once fragrant, very carefully pour the reserved milk into it. Let it cook for a minute or two, until all of the caramel melts, then pour in the cornflour mixture. Cook, until thickened, for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove it from the heat, and start adding small pieces of butter and chocolate, continually whisking. Adding one piece at a time, whisk until the filling is smooth and blended. Cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
While the filling is cooling down, make the cake layers. Sift the plain flour into a large bowl, add in the cornflour, sugar, salt, and the baking powder, and whisk very well. Pour in the water, liqueur, oil, and the vanilla, and whisk until combined. Line four small round cake pans (15 cm), with baking parchment. Divide the batter equally among them, and bake, in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 20-25 minutes. They need to remain light in colour, but do check with a toothpick. Every oven is different, and it is important that they do not turn out dry, so do start checking even before the 20-minute mark. Let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, and then turn them out to a large wire rack to continue cooling.
Once the filling is cool to the touch, mix it with an electric mixer on high, until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. And when everything is ready, start assembling the cake.
Level the cake layers if needed, and place the first one on the cake platter. Close a cake ring around it, add a tall sheet of acetate, and tighten it so it stays in place. Divide the filling into four parts by weight. Reserve one fourth for the decoration, cover the top, and place it into the refrigerator. Add the first part of the filling over the cake layer, level it gently, and place another cake layer on top. Continue stacking the cake in this fashion, until all of the cake layers and filling are used up. Cover the top with cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
To make the vegan caramel sauce for serving, pour the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, shake it well, and place it over medium heat. Let the sugar heat up slowly, without any stirring. Once the sugar becomes wonderfully amber in colour, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add in the diced butter. Stir vigorously until blended, and add in the cream and the salt. Stir until everything is combined well, returning to the heat for a moment, if necessary. Remove from the heat and transfer to a container so it can cool down completely. Once cooled, place it into the refrigerator until needed.
When the cake has firmed up, whip the filling with an electric mixer on high for a few minutes, until smooth, and then frost the entire cake. Generously drizzle the vegan caramel sauce on the top of the cake, and place it into the freezer for about 30 minutes. Yields 20 servings. © Tina Vesić 2021

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