Friday 1 August 2014


Hello folks,

If you're not following the blog on Facebook yet, then what are you waiting for?! :) I'm going to be trying extra hard this month to post lots of useful/interesting links and articles, so do join in and get liking and sharing and all that good social mediary stuff. 

I recently posted up some pictures of this indulgent four-layer chocolate cake that I made for my brother's birthday. The response was great, so I hope you give it a go at home and enjoy the final results as much as my family did. Or make it for someone special and watch their eyes bug out mid-bite as you casually reveal that it is, indeed, entirely vegan! 

My brother was a massive fan. And before you say: 'Well, he has to say he likes it, you're family etc etc...', it is worth pointing out that no one tells it to me straight like he does. He has been the guinea-pig for many of my crazy kitchen experiments and he never fails to say exactly what's on his mind - whether good or bad or...outrageous. With his infamous sweet-tooth and life-long experience in tucking into more cakes than he'd probably like to admit, I was thrilled to receive his positive feedback on this one.

Also, I've never had this much fun baking a cake before. I'm not ashamed to admit that this one came with diagrams and to-do lists and revised shopping lists and... well, I got a liiitttlllee bit obsessed with the idea of what I wanted it to look and taste like. Took two days to construct: one day to bake all the layers and let them cool, another day to create the fillings and ice it up. It's technical, it's time-consuming, and there are many steps involved. Only start this if you have a free weekend or couple of days on your hands.

You'll need a 12" cake tin, cake spatula or palette knife, piping bags and nozzles. 

Enough chatter. Recipe time.

For first cake mixture:
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1.5 cups soft brown sugar
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
- 2 cups water

For second cake mixture:
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1.5 cups soft brown flour
- 6 tbsp dried/shredded coconut
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup sunflower oil
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup water

For the filling:
- 3 cans coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 6 pitted dates (or 1 cup raisins/sultanas)
- 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (or other fruit of your choice)

For the frosting:
- 6 ripe avocados
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 8 pitted dates (or 1 cup raisins/sultanas)
- 4-6 tbsp cocoa powder

For the decoration:
Go wild. Do what you want. But I used...
- dried fruits (cranberries, cherries, etc.)
- dessicated coconut
- dark chocolate squares

To make the two separate cake mixtures, always start by mixing the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder etc.) in a large bowl.  Then mix the wet ingredients (oil, water, vinegar, coconut milk, etc.) in another bowl and whisk lightly with a fork before adding it to the dry ingredients. It is important that you combine this way in order to get the right cake texture.

When you've made the first cake mixture, divide it into two equal parts and bake each part individually in a lightly greased 12" cake tin for 30 minutes in the oven, gas mark 5. Allow to cool slightly before taking out of the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat this process for the second cake mixture.

If possible, allow all 4 cake layers to cool down completely overnight before attempting the filling and frosting.

To make the filling, take the refrigerated cans of coconut milk and scoop out the coconut fat that separates to the top. Avoid adding the excess liquid that has sunk to the bottom. Blend the coconut cream, dates (or raisins/sultanas) and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth and creamy. 

Start to assemble the cake (on a cake board or tray) by spreading the cream filling between each cake layer. Arrange the chopped fresh strawberries (or other fruit) in one of the layers along with the coconut cream. I did this to have a burst of fruit freshness in each slice. Plus it adds a nice vibrant colour.

Place the stacked cake in the fridge while you make the frosting.

To make the frosting, blend the avocados, dates (or raisins/sultanas) and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

Take the cake out of the fridge and frost the cake with about 3/4 of the frosting mixture using a palette knife or cake spatula to get a smooth covering. Don't worry about getting it perfectly smooth. It's a messy job so be prepared to wipe around the base of the cake board afterwards.

Use the other 1/4 of the frosting mixture to pipe along the base or anywhere else you wish. I used the little that was left to pipe the number '24' on the top.

Decorate with a mixture of dried fruits like bright red cranberries; sprinkle on some dessicated coconut; top with chocolate squares/chunks/chips etc... 

Refrigerate for an hour or two before serving so that the frosting hardens up a little. Store in the fridge and consume within 3-4 days.

Get creative with your decorations and send me a picture of the final product. If I get responses, I will feature them on the blog at some point...