The ultimate, triple layered chocolate cake

It may have been noted that I am rather partial to a bit of cake. Always have been, probably always will be. And although I have definitely cut down on my processed sugar intake in recent years, particularly since adopting a whole food plant based diet, I do still like a decadent sweet treat every now and then.

And one of my biggest concerns when going dairy free was how was I ever going to get a decent cake again? Adding on egg free as well to make it free from any animal products, seemed even more challenging. Fortunately, there are a huge amount of free from recipes out on the internet and in specialist cookery books. And what’s more, it’s actually easier to make a deliciously light and fluffy vegan cake than your standard one.

Following the clear guidelines set out by MsCupcake (check out http://www.mscupcake.co.uk/books/ for her recipe book), there are three key elements to making a great vegan cake:

               1) Mix dry and wet ingredients separately to star
               2) Combine swiftly, do not over mix
               3) Tap the bowl and tin to release the air

My son has definitely inherited my love of cake, along with my intolerance to dairy. It was his 16th birthday just before Christmas, and so to celebrate I decided to make him a huge, sumptuous dairy free birthday cake. And as he loves a bit of chocolate, it turned into the ultimate triple layer chocolate delight.

Consisting of three cake layers – a chocolate chip sponge sandwiched between two chocolate sponges – and covered with a rich chocolate cream, finished with a garnish of chocolate strands, it was enormous! Being dairy free, it was not over rich but still gave great chocolate satisfaction

I adapted this recipe from MsCupcakes Neapolitan sponge cake and it worked really well. It can be made gluten free by using non-wheat flour (make sure your baking powder is gluten free too). And remember this cake is huge, so it provides a good amount of servings (unless it’s for a group of giant-boy 16 year olds, then it disappears extremely fast!

Triple layer chocolate cake
For the chocolate chip layer:
200g self raising flour
200mls non-dairy milk
80ml flavourless oil (I use organic rapeseed)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 50g non-dairy chocolate chips
For the chocolate layers:
340g self raising flour
>4 tablespoons cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
400ml non-dairy milk160mls oil
2 tablespoons vanilla or 1 each of vanilla and chocolate extract
To finish, chocolate buttercream (see below) and chocolate strands
First, you will need three round cake 23cm cake tins, greased and base lined with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Make the chocolate chip layer first. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and chocolate chips into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, milk and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together until just combined. Do not over mix – there should be a few lumps still. Tap the bowl on the work surface (this stops the raising agents working too quickly). Pour the mix into one of the prepared tins, and then tap the tin on the work top.

Repeat the same process for the chocolate layers, mixing the dry and wet separately then combining the two quickly and pouring into the other two tins. Try to make sure you distribute evenly and remember to tap your tins.

Bake the layers for 18-22 minutes, but check after 15 if you have a fan oven as they can cook quite fiercely. Pop a toothpick into the centre of each layer – once it comes out clean then the layer is ready. Some layers may take longer than others depending on their position in the oven. Once you are happy the layer is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then tip out onto a cooling tray and leave to cool completely.

Dairy free chocolate buttercream
To finish off your mighty fine cake, you will need to make up a quantity of chocolate buttercream. Even though it contains no butter, this cream is still seriously rich and sweet, the perfect accompaniment to this super chocolate cake.
5 tablespoons of non-dairy spread (I used Vitalite)
5 tablespoons of vegetable fat (I used Trex)
500g icing sugar
100g cocoa powder
Up to 100mls non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon of chocolate extract if you have it, if not vanilla.
Put the non-dairy spread, vegetable fat and extract into a large bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until well combined and creamy. Add the cocoa powder, half the icing sugar and half of the non-dairy milk. Mix together, slowly at first otherwise you will get an icing sugar cloud! Once well combined, add the remaining icing sugar and enough non-dairy milk to get the consistency you want. It needs to be thick enough to spread and stay on the side of the cake, but not so thick you can’t spread it around easily.

Place your three cakes next to each other, base side up. Spread a good dollop of chocolate butter cream on one of the chocolate layers and place the chocolate chip layer on top of it. Put a good dollop of buttercream on this layer, then place the other chocolate layer on top. Finally, put another good dollop of the icing on top of the chocolate layer and spread it out so you have a thick coating, then use the rest to coat to fully cover the sides. Very carefully, transfer the cake onto it’s serving plate, and sprinkle with chocolate strands and decorations as required.
Enjoy your celebration, as well as your seriously chocolatey cake. It’s so delicious, unless you tell anyone, they won’t know it’s dairy free and vegan!

100g caster sugar

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