Thursday, June 23, 2022


When I was little, every year for my birthday, I would get a bespoke vanilla fruit cake, with a fancy chocolate decoration and my name on it. Very fancy, indeed. And to be frank, that particular cake was my absolute favourite for the longest time.
This beauty is its close relative, only vegan and completely to my liking. Soft cake layers, abundant vanilla cream filling, and plenty of fruit conserve. Summer in a tiny cake form.
It is quite modest in ingredients, but abundant in flavour and marvellous summer fruit. And, of course, excellent when slightly frozen; the filling almost turns into ice cream.
I kept the decoration simple, however, that is always to your preference; although I have to say, it is a very soft and light cake, and it would not be suited for fondant or heavy decoration.

For the vegan vanilla cake
250 grams plain flour
60 grams semolina
250 grams granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
250 millilitres cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the vegan vanilla cream filling
500 millilitres soy milk
50 grams plain flour
50 grams cornflour
100 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric, optional
180 grams vegan block butter, at room temperature
For the strawberry filling
300 grams fresh strawberries
80 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons cold water
For the apricot filling
300 grams fresh apricots
80 grams light brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons cold water
For the peach filling
300 grams fresh peaches
80 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons cold water

Start by making the vanilla cream filling, as it needs to cool down completely before whipping.
Pour the cold soy milk into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sift in the flour and the cornflour, mix well, and then add in the sugar, vanilla, and turmeric, if using. Place the pot over medium-high heat, and let it slowly heat up. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking. Let the mixture come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until it thickens, and resembles a thick custard. As soon as you remove it from the heat, add in 30 grams of softened vegan block butter, and whisk until melted and incorporated. This can be blended with an immersion blender or an electric mixer on low to medium speed, for convenience. Cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the vegan vanilla cake layers, take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour and the baking powder. Whisk them together, and then add in the semolina and the sugar. Set that aside for a moment, and prepare two small round cake pans (15 cm) by lining the bottom and sides with baking parchment.
Just before baking, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk until blended. As soon as the batter is ready, pour it into the prepared pans, tap it once or twice on the counter, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for 15-18 minutes, checking for doneness early. Every oven bakes differently, and the cake should remain as moist as possible. As soon as a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, it is done. Remove them from the oven and let the cakes cool down in the pan for about 10 minutes, invert them on a wire rack, and let them cool down completely.
For the strawberry filling, chop the larger strawberries into smaller pieces, but leave some whole, the texture will be nicer. Put the fruit, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, just gently agitate the fruit, do not stir vigorously, so some fruit pieces remain whole. After about 10-15 minutes, when the fruit has reduced by half and is thick and glossy, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornflour and the cold water, pour it into the fruit, and cook for a minute longer, to thicken it up further. Remove from the heat, set it aside, and gently stir it from time to time as it cools.
For the apricot and peach fillings, start by scoring each fruit with a small knife, and blanching them for about 20 seconds. As soon as you remove them from the boiling water, add them to a bowl of ice water, to easily remove the skins. Peel them and segment them as best as possible.
To make the apricot filling, place the fruit segments, light brown sugar, and the lemon juice into a heavy saucepan, and just like before, let it come to a simmer over medium heat. Gently stir as it simmers for about 10-12 minutes, or until very thick and syrupy. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornflour and the cold water, pour it into the fruit, and cook for a minute longer. Remove from the heat and set it aside.
And for the peach filling, add the segments, sugar, and lemon juice into a saucepan, and let it come to a boil, still over medium heat. Peaches are very delicate, so stir them gently as they simmer, for about 10 minutes. Some segments will fall apart, but that is fine. As soon as they start looking quite glossy, whisk together the cornflour and the cold water, pour it into the fruit, and cook for a minute longer. Remove from the heat and set it aside.
Once the vanilla cream filling has cooled down, place the remaining butter into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 5 minutes, so it becomes light and airy. Briefly whisk the cooked and cooled custard, so it is easier to incorporate. Without stopping the beaters, add a tablespoon of the custard at a time to the whipped butter, and blend them together until smooth and creamy.
Once the filling is whipped and ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cakes, if necessary, and split each of them into two layers. Divide the filling into three equal parts, as well.
Place the first cake layer onto the serving platter, put a tall sheet of acetate, and close the cake ring around it. This will hold everything in place as the cake cools. Spread a portion of the vanilla filling over the first layer, and gently top it with the apricot filling. It is fine if it sinks into the whipped custard. Place the second cake layer on top, spread another fourth of the filling, and top with the cooked strawberries. Repeat the process once more, using up the peach filling. Top with the final cake layer, and cover the top with a piece of cling film, to stop it from drying out, and then place it into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Once ready, take the cake out of the refrigerator, remove the cake ring and the acetate sheet, and decorate as desired. If using fresh fruit for decoration, place it on the cake just before serving. Serve well chilled. Yields 16 generous servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2022

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