Friday, December 29, 2023

RICH VEGAN CHOCOLATE ORANGE LAYER CAKE

When it comes to flavour preferences, I will always choose a nice tart and sweet combination over pure chocolate, as I find that balance so delightful. Of course, chocolate and orange being one of my favourite pairings, I chose to embellish this cake with as much of it as I could.
Soft and rich chocolate cake layers, absolutely delightful orange filling full of sesame praline, a generous layer of marzipan, and a wonderful lightly chocolate frosting make this cake one of the best I have ever made. Everything blends so perfectly into one marvellous symphony of flavours.
It is best served after being allowed to come to room temperature, preferably with a cup of strong espresso, of course.


Ingredients
For the soft chocolate layers
200 grams plain flour
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaped teaspoon instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon salt
200 grams granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
70 millilitres sunflower oil
300 millilitres tepid water
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
For the rich orange filling
500 grams fresh orange segments
100 grams light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
80 grams cornflour
200 grams vegan block butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
40 grams extra dark chocolate (90% cocoa solids)
1 teaspoon red vegan food colouring, optional
For the sesame praline
50 grams granulated sugar
60 grams peanuts, roasted
15 grams sesame seeds
salt to taste
For the marzipan layer
200 grams vegan marzipan
75 grams candied orange peel

Preparation
Start by making the orange filling. Segment the oranges and place them in a blender with the sugar and rum. Purée the oranges completely and pour them into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the cornflour and place it over medium-high heat. Let it come to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until it becomes glossy and thick. Remove it from the heat, cover the surface with a piece of cling film or baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
For the sesame praline, toast them in a large dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment or a silicone mat, arrange the peanuts and the sesame seeds on it, and set aside. Take a heavy-bottomed saucepan, tip in the granulated sugar, and gently shake the pan to distribute the sugar. Place it over medium-high heat, and let the sugar melt and then cook for about 7-8 minutes, until it becomes a deep amber colour. Once fragrant, remove it from the heat and carefully pour it over the peanuts and sesame seeds. Let it cool down completely.
To make the soft chocolate cake layers, start by preheating the oven to 180°C. Take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt. Add in the sugar and mix very well. Line three small round baking pans (15 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set them aside.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; add in the water, oil, vanilla, orange zest, and the vinegar, and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and immediately bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 15-20 minutes, or until done. Check them with a toothpick, making sure they are fudgy. Let them cool in the pans completely.


Once everything is at room temperature, proceed to assemble the cake.
Whip the cooled orange custard with an electric mixer on high until light and creamy, and set it aside. Take a large bowl and beat the vegan block butter with the vanilla until lighter in colour and fluffy, add in the whipped custard, and blend them very well. Divide the filling into two parts, making sure one was larger, as it will be used for the decoration.
Grind the sesame praline to your preferred texture, add salt to taste, and fold it through the smaller portion of the filling, and then divide it into two equal parts by weight.
If desired, additionally chop the candied orange peel, and then knead it through the vegan marzipan. Divide it into two equal parts, and then roll each out to 15 centimetres in diameter.
Level the cakes, if necessary, and place the first one on the serving platter. Add half of the sesame and orange filling, level it nicely, and top with a layer of marzipan. Repeat this once more, and top with the final cake layer. Crumb coat the entire cake with a bit of the reserved filling and place it into the refrigerator for at least an hour. Cover the remaining filling with a piece of cling film, and refrigerate it.
Once the crumb coat is firm, melt the extra dark chocolate and let it cool down slightly. Take the cake and the filling out of the refrigerator and blend the chocolate well into the filling. If desired, use food colouring at this point, as well. Decorate the cake as desired, making sure the entire filling is used up, and return it to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Yields 16 rich servings.

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