Friday, October 28, 2022


Being a self-taught baker, one of my most cherished memories is making my very own chocolate cake. It had only two layers of cake and a simple chocolate buttercream filling, but it was a wonderful achievement of a 13-year-old me.
And now, every time I bake a chocolate cake, I like to take a look back and see how much I’ve learnt and all the progress I have made. It does my heart good.
This cake is one of those that are fancy enough to be a celebration cake, yet effortless enough for an everyday slice of sweetness. Straightforward, flavourful, full of tart berries and chocolate, and very stable for transporting.
The kind of cake that remains soft and moist for days. The kind where the dessert fork effortlessly glides through the layers.
You can use fresh berries or frozen ones, without even thawing them first. Just place everything in the pot, wait until they soften and start to bubble, and proceed with the cooking. Even though the fruit can be pureed smooth, I like when there are larger pieces of fruit still left throughout the filing.
It is perfectly tart and sweet, delicious on its own, but even better with a glass of good dessert wine or a cup of strong coffee.

For the chocolate fudge layers
250 grams plain flour
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
300 grams light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
420 millilitres tepid water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
100 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the berry filling
200 grams strawberries
100 grams raspberries
50 grams sour cherries
50 grams blackberries
120 grams granulated sugar
80 grams cornflour
100 grams cold water
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
120 grams vegan block butter, cold
For the double chocolate mousse filling
100 grams dark chocolate (70%)
100 grams vegan white chocolate
250 grams plant double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Start by making the chocolate mousse filling, as it needs a bit of time to cool down, so it can be whipped into a mousse. Chop both types of chocolate finely, and place them into a deep bowl. Heat up the plant cream, preferably over low heat, until it almost starts to boil, and pour it over the prepared chocolate. Let it stand for a minute, and then gently mix and fold, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. It will look somewhat thin, compared to a typical ganache, but this is fine, as it will be whipped later on.
Once the chocolate has melted fully, cover the surface with cling film, let it cool down to room temperature, and then place the bowl into the refrigerator for at least four hours.
To make the berry filling, place all the fruit into a heavy-bottomed pot, sprinkle in the granulated sugar, and place the pot over medium high heat. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the cornflour, water, and vanilla, and whisk very well. Once the fruit stars to simmer, break it down slightly with a whisk, and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, pour in the cornflour mixture, and whisk constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, or until thickened and fragrant.
Remove from the heat, and add in the vegan block butter. Let it stand for a minute or so, so it starts to melt, and then mix and fold until everything is incorporated. Have patience with the mixing process, as it will seem that the butter has separated from the fruit custard at one point. That is normal. Once blended, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Next, make the chocolate cake layers. Sift the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add in the sugar and the espresso powder, and mix very well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water, oil, and the vanilla, and blend it very well. Whisk until just blended, being careful not to overmix.

Line two medium round cake pans (20 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and divide the batter evenly between them. Tap the pans a few times on the counter, to remove any bubbles, and then bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 10-15 minutes.
Check it for doneness early, as every oven bakes differently, and the cakes should remain as soft and 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 them cool down in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then invert both onto a wire rack, and let them cool down completely.
When everything is cool to the touch and ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cakes, if necessary, and slice each of them in half, to create four thin layers. Set them aside for the time being.
Take the mousse filling out of the refrigerator, and whip it into a mousse, using an electric mixer on high speed. Be patient, and whip the mousse until it becomes airy and voluminous, but not overly thick and dry.
Blend the fruit filling with an electric mixer on high, as well, until smooth and creamy. It is fine if larger pieces of fruit remain throughout.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, add a layer of acetate, and close a cake ring around it. Spread half of the fruit filling, and level it. Top with another layer, and almost all of the chocolate mousse. Reserve a few tablespoons for the decoration, if desired. Tap the platter a bit, and then top with another cake layer, followed by the fruit filling, and the final layer.
Cover the top in the reserved chocolate mousse, and place it into the refrigerator for at least eight hours. When ready, remove the cake ring and the acetate, and serve the cake well chilled, with additional fruit, chocolate shavings, and strong coffee. Yields 16 servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2022