Friday, December 22, 2023

VEGAN APRICOT SPICE LAYER CAKE

Recently I had the pleasure of enjoying a chocolate bar created to resemble a bar discontinued when I was a child, probably close to 30 years ago, and I found it incredible how some flavour pairings we fall in love as children stay our favourites permanently. The timeless combination of chocolate and rum will indeed forever be my first choice.
And just like the chocolate bar, this little cake is an echo of one of my absolutely dearest pairings - chocolate, cinnamon, and apricots. Such a wonderful combination, indeed perfect for a cup of coffee or tea.
I truly love this type of cakes. Soft and sticky spice cake layers, aromatic apricot cream filling, and a shiny chocolate glaze; a true slice of winter delight.
You can use fresh, frozen or tinned apricots, depending on what you have available, and they will all work perfectly. Although, I have to say I find that tinned apricots somehow lack flavour, so I advise to use a few drops of apricot extract or even some vegan apricot liqueur.
The cake is best made a whole day in advance, so the flavours can develop nicely and the cake layers can absorb some of the moisture from the filling and frosting. Always serve it after letting it come to room temperature, and with a cup of strong coffee.


Ingredients
For the spice cake layers
150 grams plain flour
100 grams rye flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
150 grams granulated sugar
big pinch of salt
180 millilitres carbonated water
200 grams apricot jam
50 grams dandelion honey
60 millilitres oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the apricot filling
450 grams apricots, fresh or tinned
100 grams brown sugar
80 grams cornflour
120 millilitres cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
180 grams vegan block butter, cubed
For the dark chocolate glaze
100 grams dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
50 millilitres plant-based double cream

Preparation
Start by making the apricot filling. Either mash the apricots with a fork or use a blender to roughly purée them. Pour into a large saucepan, add the sugar, and place it over medium-high heat. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the cornflour, water, and vanilla. Set aside. As soon as the apricots come to a boil, start stirring, and cook until some of the liquid evaporates from them, about 5 minutes.
Add in the cornflour and stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes, until the fruit cooks into a nice, glossy pudding. Remove from the heat, pour it into a large bowl, and add in the cubed vegan block butter. Let it stand for a minute or so, and then whisk it well using an electric mixer on high. Whip until everything blends together, cover the top with a piece of cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the soft cake layers, start by preheating the oven to 180°C. Next, sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and the spices into a large bowl. Add in the salt and sugar, and whisk very well. Set aside. Take a medium bowl and add in the dandelion honey and the jam, and whisk vigorously to combine. Pour in the oil and vanilla, and blend it well. Repeat the same with carbonated water. Once the wet ingredients are blended nicely, pour them over the flour and spices, and whisk until only combined.


Take a rectangle baking pan (20x30 cm), and line it with baking parchment, bottom and sides. Pour in the batter, tap it lightly on the counter, and bake immediately, at 180°C, for about 20-25 minutes. Mine usually takes 21 minutes, but do check with a toothpick inserted into the very centre. The cake is very soft, so it is best left to cool completely in the baking pan.
Once the filling is cool to the touch, whip it with an electric mixer on high once again, so it becomes smooth and easily spreadable. Place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Level the cake, if needed, and gently slice it in half crosswise and lengthwise, to create four thin rectangular layers. Take the chilled filling out of the refrigerator and set aside a third of it, to frost the cake. Divide the remaining filling into three equal parts.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, close a small cake frame around it, and add a third of the apricot filling. Repeat until everything is used up, cover the top of the cake with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and place it into the refrigerator, along with the reserved filling, for at least 8 hours.
To make the chocolate glaze, melt together the chocolate and the cream over low heat or in the microwave. Set it aside to cool down slightly. Take the cake out of the refrigerator, remove the cake frame and spread the reserved filling evenly on top and the sides of the cake. Glaze with the prepared chocolate and serve as soon as the glaze sets. Yields 12 rich slices.

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