To celebrate the return of The Great British Bake Off I had a couple of friends round for drinks and cake to watch the first episode. We made Key Lime Pie cocktails (vodka, lime juice and cream soda), and I made this cake, which went perfectly with the new vintage glass cake stand I’d got while on a weekend away in Rye, East Sussex. Black Forest gateau has always been one of my favourite cakes, not least because of the goth sounding name, but I’d never thought to veganise it until now.
The chocolate cake itself is based on my favourite chocolate cake recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen, slightly adapted into a smaller size tin so it would fit on the cake stand, and doubled up to make the layer cake. This recipe works just fine in either a 7 or 8 inch tin, so just use whatever you have. The only thing that is important to look out for in this recipe is to make sure you have the right sort of coconut cream. I’ve tried the cartons of coconut cream from Sainsbury’s and they have some sort of emulsifier in them that doesn’t allow the water and cream to separate, so it doesn’t work for this (but does, as discovered after a near cake disaster, work very well for Piña Coladas). I recommend the little cans of coconut cream from Waitrose, chilled in the fridge for at least an hour, but I think full fat coconut milk, also chilled the same way, would work just as well as long as its the kind that separates. Please don’t be impatient like I was and not chill them, the cream melts very fast, especially considering there’s a heatwave going on, so my cake nearly got ruined because I didn’t want to wait!
for 2x 8inch cakes
470ml (2 cups) almond or soya milk
2 tsp cider vinegar
160ml (2/3 cup) neutral-flavour oil (sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed etc)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp chocolate extract (or more vanilla, but I really recommend using chocolate extract if you can find it)
250g plain flour
80g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
a good pinch of salt
for the cherry kirsch jam
375g frozen cherries (or fresh if you want, but frozen is cheaper and easier!)
18g chia seeds
50ml kirsch (can be swapped for water or cherry juice to make alcohol free!)
4 cans coconut cream (or 2-3 of full fat coconut milk), set in the fridge for at least an hour so the cream separates from the water
a couple of squares of chocolate to shave for decoration
glacé or maraschino cherries
Grease two 8-inch springform cake tins and line the base with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Combine the almond/soya milk with the vinegar in a large bowl and leave for a minute to curdle. Add in the sugar, oil and extracts, and mix with a balloon whisk to combine. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, baking powder and salt, and fold in until just incorporated. A few small lumps are fine and will bake out, so be careful not to over-mix.
Split the cake mix evenly between the two prepared tins and bake for about 32 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins on a wire rack.
While the cakes are in the oven, make the jam by combining all the jam ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 15mins until thick and jam-like, breaking up the cherries a bit as they cook. Bear in mind that it will thicken more as it cools, so if its thickening too fast add another splash of kirsch. Allow the jam to cool slightly at room temperature before putting in the fridge to cool completely.
Once the cakes are completely cool, remove from the tins and construct the cake. Take the coconut cream from the fridge, remove the water, and lightly whip the cream. Put one layer of cake down and top with a generous amount of jam and cream, before adding the top layer and topping with more cream. Decorate with chocolate shavings and glacé or maraschino cherries. If it is warm out, put in the fridge until ready to serve as the coconut cream can melt!
I was very happy with how this cake turned out. All the flavours are a classic combination and work well together as would be expected. The chia seeds give a lovely light jam, full of cherry flavour without overwhelming sweetness. The chocolate cake is rich and moist, and for more of a kick a drizzle of kirsch could be added to the top of the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven. The coconut cream works great here as the coconut flavour doesn’t come through at all, making it more similar to the classic, non-vegan version. Just do make sure you set it in the fridge and keep the cake in the fridge, mine melted into a landslide a few moments after I took the photograph because it’s about 30° here at the moment, but I fixed it and put it in the fridge and it set up and still tasted great.
Also, now is as good a time as any to announce my new baking project! This season of Bake Off I’m going to be veganising one challenge from the show each week and blogging about it, starting this week with a Genoise mirror glaze cake, so expect to see that (or Jaffa Cakes if that cake goes too terribly wrong!) up on the blog sometime soon!