Chocolate cappuccino cake
Unbakery is my strength but when I introduce heat into the mix above 42C, I am not so self-assured when working completely from scratch. So, for this baked cake I drew inspiration from Cara Reed’s Decadent Vegan Gluten-free baking book, adapting the sponge of her German chocolate cake into a nightshade free version with coconut and espresso for even more richness and decadence. This involved augmenting the flour blend; dropping the potato starch (nightshade) and reducing the amount of arrowroot and raising the levels of brown rice and sorghum flours and introducing tapioca flour to help with the texture.
The result was a delicious rich chocolatey gluten-free vegan sponge cake that rose spectacularly in the oven like no other gluten-free vegan cake I have baked.
Whilst the sponge is a healthier version of a baked sponge, there is nothing healthy about the buttercream icing. Since this was John’s birthday cake (and he loves coffee), I made a rich cappuccino icing delicately flavoured with a combination of coffee extract and medicine flower.
You could make it healthier by using a raw ‘buttercream’ or use an avocado chocolate mousse as a filling instead.
Raw icings need to be refrigerated and I needed this cake to be able to sit on the counter at room temperature in a cake dome for a good few days whilst slices were taken into his office and distributed to friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have it in my gift to put away a cake of this calibre all on my own but since it was John’s birthday cake, I thought I should exercise a little restraint. Hence choosing a more robust and long-lasting traditional buttercream.
I decorated it with some Coco Loco 73% dark chocolate buttons that I picked up from the River Cottage Food Fair earlier this year. I was amazed there were any left, to be honest. I must have forgotten about them. I also used them to make the almond butter sea salt chocolate chip cookies.
I was thinking that this would be a once-a-year birthday kind of cake but now I am not so sure. I am thinking that without the icing, this would make a wonderful comforting sponge to have with a raw chocolate sauce and raw ice cream over the colder months.
PRO CHEF NOTES
The night before you intend to make this cake, put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator. The cream should separate and settle at the top of the can. Use the thick cream for the sponge cake, reserving the remaining coconut water at the bottom for top-up liquid should you need it – you will also use it in the icing.
Use alkalised Dutch cocoa for this recipe as it will give your baked cake a lovely smooth mellow chocolaty flavour.
I used a deodorised non-raw (but solid) coconut oil, melted, so it didn’t impact on the flavour of the cake.
Makes an 8-inch cake – 12 good slices
2 tablespoons ground linseed
250ml coconut milk* (see pro chef note)
125 ml freshly made hot espresso coffee
125ml melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
140g brown rice flour
135g sorghum flour
120g tapioca flour
60g arrowroot flour
60g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
75g soft light brown sugar
100g golden granulated sugar
115g dairy free margarine. I use Tomor.
6 tablespoons coconut milk (leftover from the can you used for making the sponge cake)
330g icing sugar
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
Pinch fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Neilson Massey coffee extract
6 drops Medicine flower coffee extract
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 packet of Coco loco’s 73% dark chocolate buttons (dairy-free)
SPONGE CAKE METHOD
Preheat your oven. Prepare your cake pans: grease two 8-inch cake tins with a tiny amount of coconut oil and line the bottom of each with baking parchment.
Mix the 2 tablespoons of round linseed with 6 tablespoons of water and leave to stand for ten minutes to thicken. Blend this together with the coconut milk, hot espresso coffee, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract.
Sieve together the flours with the cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum and fine sea salt. Combine well and add the sugars. Pour the wet batter into the dry flour blend and combine well. If you are using a kitchen stand mixer, use the whisk at a low to medium setting. Once well-combined, divide the batter equally between each of the two cake tins.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Insert a skewer or knife into the centre and see if it comes out clean. If not, return the cake to the oven for another minute and check again. When it is baked, allow the cake to sit in the cake tin for about 5 minutes before turning it onto the cooling rack.
CAPPUCCINO ICING METHOD
Allow the margarine to stand at room temperature until it softens enough to be beaten. Add it to your food mixer with the coconut milk and whisk until softened. Sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add this to the softened margarine mixture and whisk until it is well incorporated. Add the vanilla and coffee extracts. Do not be tempted to overwhip or the icing may split.
When completely cool, place one half of the sponge on the plate. Spread with half the cappuccino buttercream. Top with the second layer and slather over another layer of buttercream. Sift over the cocoa powder and top with grated chocolate or dark chocolate buttons.