Epic vegan cake anyone? This sweet, salty, caramel number hits all the right flavour notes.
1 quantity of Vegan Chocolate Sponge mixture (see below) baked in three greased and lined 18-cm/7-inch cake pans for 30–35 minutes until an inserted cocktail stick/toothpick comes out clean, then cooled
1/2 quantity of Brilliant White Buttercream (see page 21, but replace the water with 2 tablespoons of the vegan salted caramel sauce)
2 teaspoons mixed gold, silver and bronze cake sprinkles (optional, see vegan tip)
2 teaspoons rock sea salt
200 g/1 cup caster/superfine sugar
few sprigs of lemon thyme
edible gold spray (optional, see vegan tip)
For the vegan salted caramel sauce
250 g/11/4 cups caster/superfine sugar
150 ml/2/3 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch
rock sea salt, to taste
baking sheet, greased with sunflower oil
For the vegan salted caramel sauce, place the sugar in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water, place over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir through the coconut milk (be careful as it will bubble). Return to the heat; mix the cornflour/cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of water and stir in to the pan, simmer for a further 5–7 minutes until thickened. It will thicken further on cooling. Add salt to taste. Set aside to cool completely (see cook’s tip).
If necessary, trim the tops of the cakes to make level. Sandwich together using 350 g/12 oz. of the buttercream – the bottom side of the top cake should be facing up. Place the cake on a serving plate. Crumb-coat (see page 11) the cake using the remaining buttercream. Smooth and remove the excess buttercream with a palette knife/metal spatula.
Mix the cake sprinkles (if using) with the 2 teaspoons sea salt. Set aside.
For the caramel shapes and shards, gently heat the sugar in a pan until melted and golden. Shake the pan towards the end to allow any unmelted sugar to melt. Spoon half the caramel onto the greased baking sheet, then drag it outwards with the back of the spoon to create a rough square shape with one thinner, uneven side. Sprinkle the cake sprinkle mixture over part of the rectangle. Use the spoon to drizzle the remaining caramel into spiral shapes and zig-zag patterns. Leave to harden. Break the square shape into shards.
When ready to serve, push the caramel shapes into the top of the cake, drizzle with the caramel sauce and decorate with the blackberries and lemon thyme sprigs. Spray with the edible gold spray (if using).
Cook’s tip: You’ll have some caramel sauce left over; it’s great served with the cake for those wanting an extra drizzle! It’s so delicious you’ll want to pour it over every cake and dessert – keep any remaining sauce in the fridge, covered, for up to 1 week or allow to cool for 5 minutes, reserve what you need for the cake and ladle the remaining sauce into a sterilized jar. Seal and allow to cool. It will keep for up to 3 months.
Vegan tip: Always check ingredients on individual products to ensure they are suitable for a vegan diet. Different brands may vary.
Vegan chocolate sponge
1 large ripe banana, 115 g/ 4 oz. peeled weight
250 ml/1 cup soya milk
75 ml/5 tablespoons vegetable oil
425 g/generous 2 cups
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
115 ml/scant 1/2 cup maple syrup
575 g/generous 41/4 cups self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted
75 g/3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
MAKES ENOUGH FOR 1 LARGE CAKE
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4. Place the banana in a large bowl and mash until creamy. Add the soya milk, vegetable oil, sugar, vanilla extract, white wine vinegar and maple syrup. Beat with an electric hand whisk until combined. Sift over the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold through until combined. Transfer to greased and lined pans specified in each recipe (if using 18-cm/ 7-inch cake pans, ensure they are at least 4.5 cm/13/4 inches deep and lined with a 1.5-cm/2/3-inch collar). Bake for the time specified in each recipe.
Brilliant white buttercream (vegan)
500 g/1 lb. 2 oz. vegetable fat such as Trex or Cookeen, at room temperature
1 kg/7 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
MAKES 1.5 KG/3 LB. 5 OZ.
Place the vegetable fat in a bowl with the vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons water and a few large spoonfuls of the icing/ confectioners' sugar. Whisk with an electric hand whisk until combined, then whisk in the remaining icing/confectioners’ sugar in manageable batches, until smooth and spreadable. Add another 1 tablespoon of water, if necessary.
For more fabulous cake recipes and decoration ideas, check out Fantasy Cakes by Angela Romeo.