Friday, March 17, 2023


My love of baking spans over three decades. And every new cake I make, I am always convinced that it is the prettiest one, the most delicious one, the most charming one yet. With each new cake, I fall in love with baking more and more.
One other thing I realised over the years is how much I adore recipe developing. It brings a whole new level of freedom and creativity.
This tall beauty is made with gorgeous maple syrup; cake layers, filling, and frosting. Such a darling cake, with a delightful caramel and pecan aroma, just perfect for the afternoon coffee.
The layers are slightly sticky and utterly soft, and the filling is smooth and full of toasted pecans. It slices fantastically and keeps soft for days; and if I do say so myself, it makes for a wonderful gift, as well.

For the cake layers
250 grams plain flour
65 grams semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
180 millilitres maple syrup
190 millilitres warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the filling
400 grams soy milk, cold
80 grams cornflour
50 millilitres maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon dark rum or rum extract
200 grams vegan block butter, room temperature
100 grams toasted pecans, ground
For the maple chocolate syrup
100 millilitres cold water
80 millilitres maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Start by making the pecan filling, as it needs a bit of time to cool down.
Pour the cold soy milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the cornflour and the maple syrup, and whisk until blended. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let it heat up slowly. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking.
Once it comes to a boil, cook it, stirring constantly, until thickened, and resembling a smooth custard, about 2-3 minutes. Remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla and rum, and cover the top with either cling film or a piece of baking parchment. Let the filling cool down to room temperature.
To make the 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 blend again. Take another large bowl, pour in the water, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla, and gently stir until dissolved. Set it aside for just a minute, and prepare the cake pans (15 cm in diameter) by lining the bottom and sides with baking parchment.

Just before baking, pour the wet over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk until blended, so the semolina does not start to absorb the liquids. As soon as the batter is ready, divide it evenly between the prepared pans, tap them a few times on the counter to pop any air bubbles, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for 12-15 minutes, checking for doneness early on. 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 pans.
When everything is cool to the touch and ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cakes, if necessary, and slice them into two layers. Set them aside. Transfer the filling into a large bowl, and blend it with an electric mixer on high until completely smooth. There should be no clumps of custard visible. Take another bowl; add in the softened vegan block butter, and whip, using an electric mixer on the highest setting, until lighter in colour and creamy.
Without stopping the mixer, add the whipped custard to the butter, a tablespoon at a time, blending until completely smooth. Add in the toasted ground pecans, and blend again. Once done, divide the filling into four equal parts, by either weight or estimation, and reserve one-fourth for the decoration.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter and carefully spread on the filling. It does not need a cake ring, as the filling is firm enough on its own. Top with another layer, add more filling, and repeat until all the cake layers are used. Cover the entire cake in the reserved filling, and place it into the refrigerator for at least eight hours.
To make the maple chocolate syrup, pour the water into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the cornflour, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, and vanilla, and place it over medium-high heat. Let it slowly come to a boil, and start whisking as soon as it boils. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. The sauce will look runny, but it will thicken up as it cools. Cooking it longer will make the sauce quite thicker later on. Let it cool down to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator.
When the cake is ready, slice it into thin slices and serve with plenty of chocolate sauce. Yields 12 rich servings. © Tina Vesić 2023