Friday, April 21, 2023


Tall, intricately decorated cakes are most certainly impressive, but sometimes one only wants a soft chocolate cake with a flavourful filling, and a tiny dessert fork. And in times like those, this is the cake I would recommend. No off-cuts, no need to level it, no need to discard any part of the cake, everything is used up.
I like to affectionately call this type of cakes the cupboard cakes, as they are truly uncomplicated to make, requiring only a handful of ingredients and a few bowls. And only a few hours’ time, if need be.
The wonderful, timeless combination of soft cake layers and a rich coconut cream filling is perfect for tea, after dinner, or even for brunch. There really is no wrong way to serve it.

For the soft cake layers
250 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
200 grams granulated sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
small pinch of salt
425 millilitres boiling water
100 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the coconut cream filling
400 millilitres coconut cream
400 millilitres coconut milk
120 grams cornflour
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
200 grams granulated sugar
small pinch of salt
250 grams vegan block butter, room temperature
80 grams desiccated coconut, divided

Start by making the coconut cream filling, as it needs to cool down completely before assembling the cake.
Shake the coconut milk and cream very well, pour into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sift in the cornflour, and mix well. Add in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Place the pot over medium heat, and let it slowly heat up. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking, so it does not stick to the bottom. Let the mixture come to a strong boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Once cooked, it should resemble thick custard. As soon as you remove it from the heat, cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the soft chocolate cake, take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add in the sugars and mix very well. Line a rectangular baking pan (23x30 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set it aside. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, carefully pour in the boiling hot water, oil, and vanilla, and whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 20 minutes or so, or until done. Make sure you check the cake with a toothpick, to make sure it stays fudgy, and not dry. Let it cool completely in the pan.
Once the cooked custard has cooled, place the softened vegan block butter into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 5 minutes, so it becomes lighter in colour and airy. Whisk the cooked and cooled custard, so it is easier to incorporate. Without stopping the beaters, start adding a tablespoon of the whipped custard at a time to the butter, and blend until smooth and creamy. Add in about 50 grams of desiccated coconut, and blend again.
Once the filling is ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Slice the cooled cake into two equal layers, reserve about a quarter of the filling for the top, and place it in a separate bowl.
Place the first cake layer onto the serving platter, and close a rectangular cake frame around it. Add the larger portion of the filling on top, and gently shake the platter so the filling settles nicely. Level the filling, and top with the second cake layer. Spread the reserved filling and sprinkle with the remaining desiccated coconut.
Place the platter into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, so everything firms up nicely. When ready to serve, run a small spatula between the cake and the frame, remove the frame, and slice the cake as desired. Serve with strong coffee of your choice. Yields 16 rich servings.