Friday, May 03, 2024


As we progress through spring and towards summer, more and more lovely fresh fruit is available on the market, and that makes me, someone who adores fruit desserts, tremendously happy. Berries are the epitome of spring and early summer to me, and I use every chance I get to make them a part of something delicious.
This cake is just what I deem cakes should be - light and creamy, with the perfect blend of textures. Soft pistachio cake layers, rich raspberry filling, and a gorgeous topping of strawberries and hazelnuts that almost melts into the cake. Just a wonderful spring cake.
Both fresh and defrosted berries will work wonderfully in this recipe, and they do not even have to be fully defrosted, either. If you want, you can purée and push the raspberries through a sieve to remove the pips, for a completely smooth filling, but I don’t mind them, so I left them in.
As for the fresh mint, use the quantity written in the recipe as a suggestion more than anything else. I love the combination of strawberries and mint, so I added about 10 medium leaves. If you are not as in love with it as I am, simply add a few leaves less, and it will be perfect.
The decoration was done to match the occasion, observing Orthodox Easter, and the chocolate nest is made with rice vermicelli and dark chocolate.

For the soft pistachio cake layers
160 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
160 grams granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
60 grams pistachios, ground
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
50 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
250 millilitres water
2 heaping tablespoons camomile flowers
For the strawberry hazelnut crunch
300 grams strawberries, fresh or defrosted
100 grams light brown sugar
10 fresh mint leaves
100 grams toasted hazelnuts, ground
For the rich raspberry filling
400 grams raspberries, fresh or defrosted
65 grams fresh lemon juice
50 grams cornflour
100 grams light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
80 grams vegan block butter, diced
50 grams vegan white chocolate, chopped
¼ teaspoon rosewater
200 millilitres plant-based double cream
1-2 drops vegan pink food colouring, optional

Start by making the strawberry jam. Place the strawberries into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, add in the sugar, shake the pot so everything settles nicely, and place the pot over medium heat. Separately either mash the fresh mint leaves in a mortar or simply chop them.
Let it slowly come to a boil and cook, stirring often, for about 15-20 minutes, or until thickened nicely. Once the jam reaches its setting point (105°C), remove it from the heat, add in the mint leaves, and purée everything with an immersion blender until perfectly smooth. Return the pot to the heat for just a minute or so, and then remove it and let it cool down completely.
Next, make the raspberry filling. Add the berries to a heavy-duty saucepan, tip in the sugar, cornflour, and lemon juice, and whisk very well. Place the pot over medium high heat, and once it starts to steam lightly, start whisking vigorously with a wire whisk.
Let it come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, or until thickened and quite fragrant. Remove from the heat, add in the vanilla, vegan white chocolate, and vegan butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until everything is incorporated. Cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Finally, make the soft pistachio layers. Let the oven preheat to 170°C. Place the camomile flowers into a pot, and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, pour it over the flowers, cover, and let them steep for about 10 minutes, then strain and set the tea aside. Sift the flour into a medium bowl, add in the baking soda, sugar, and salt, and whisk very well. Add in the ground pistachios, and whisk once again.
Pour in the warm tea, oil, vanilla, and the vinegar, and mix until just combined. Line two small round cake pans (15 cm) with baking parchment, and divide the batter between them evenly. It is a runny batter, so it will level on its own. Bake them immediately, in a well preheated oven, at 170°C, for about 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely in the pans.
Once everything is cool and ready, whip the chilled plant double cream until soft peaks form, and set it aside. If using food colouring, add it now. With the same beaters, whip the cooled raspberry custard and the rosewater on high until softened and creamy, add in the whipped cream, and fold it through. Once folded, blend on the highest speed for a few moments, so the filling stiffens up and firm peaks form.
Level the cakes, if needed, and slice both of them into two thin layers. Add the ground hazelnuts to the strawberry jam, and fold them through well.
Place the first cake layer onto the cake platter. Spread one-third of the strawberry jam onto it, and then spread one-fourth of the raspberry filling on top. Repeat this two more times until all of the jam is used up. Finally, top with the final layer and frost the cake as desired. As the filling is firm and pipes well, the cake is stable to be decorated immediately. Place it into the refrigerator overnight, and serve with freshly brewed coffee. Yields 16 rich servings. © Tina Vesić 2024