Friday, December 17, 2021


We are closer and closer to winter, and the time is perfect to highlight the true classics, rich chocolate cakes. I have written before about my love for the chocolate and orange flavour combination, and how timeless I find it; but the addition of warm spices truly transforms it into a wonderful, luxurious winter treat, with a touch of that delightful citrus tanginess.
Typically, chocolate cakes, especially the ones served during the winter holidays, are seen as overly rich. And to be completely frank, most of them are; which is fine, especially with a glass of caramel brandy. However, this cake is more to my liking; fudge layers, creamy filling, and an airy cloud of whipped cream on top. An incredibly tender cake, perfect for the afternoon tea.
And if you have little helpers who wish to try their hand at simple decorations, a large orange, either segmented or sliced, can be of much assistance. As it can be served and eaten along with the cake, make sure it is thoroughly washed, regardless of it being organic or not.

For the vegan spiced chocolate cakes
300 grams plain flour
40 grams cornflour
250 grams dark brown sugar
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
20 grams freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
60 millilitres vegetable oil
500 millilitres warm water
For the chocolate fudge filling
300 millilitres soy milk
40 grams cornflour
30 unsweetened cocoa powder
50 grams dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
75 grams vegan block butter, unsalted
100 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100 grams orange jam, preferably smooth
For the frosting and decoration
150 millilitres plant double cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons icing sugar, optional
1 large orange, optional

Start by making the chocolate fudge filling. Pour the soy milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sift in the cornflour and the cocoa powder, and tip in the sugar. Add in the vanilla, whisk well, place the pan over medium-high heat, and let it slowly heat up. As soon as the milk starts to steam, start whisking. Let the mixture come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until it thickens.
Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute or so. Add in the butter, salt, and the chocolate, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until incorporated. If it is easier for you, this can be blended with an immersion blender or an electric mixer on low to medium speed. Cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the spiced chocolate cake layers, take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and salt. Add in the sugar and mix very well. Line three small (15 cm) round baking pans with baking parchment, and set them aside. Take another large bowl, add in the warm water, grated orange zest, oil, vinegar, and vanilla, and whisk well. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet mixture, and blend until just combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake immediately, in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until done. Check the cakes with a toothpick, making sure they are fudgy, and not dry. They should also spring back when lightly touched. Let them cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack and let them cool to room temperature.
When the filling is cool to the touch, add a heaping tablespoon of the orange jam to it, and whip it up with an electric mixer on high, until smooth and blended, 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. Place a cake ring around the first layer, line it with a sheet of acetate, and tighten the ring so it stays in place. Divide the chocolate cream filling into two equal parts. Spread a third of the remaining jam on the cake, then carefully pipe on half of the filling, level it gently, and place another cake layer on top. Place another cake layer, followed by a layer of jam, and the second half of the filling. Spread the remaining jam on the final cake layer, and invert it, so that the side with the jam is placed on top of the filling. Cover the top with cling film, or a peace of baking parchment, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
When the cake is ready, proceed with the decoration. Whip the plant double cream until soft peaks form, sift in the cocoa powder and the icing sugar, if using, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread the cream all over the sides and top of the cake, and decorate with slices and pieces of a large orange, if so desired. Yields 16 servings. © Tina Vesić 2021