Almond and blackberry cake with caramel sauce

When I first thought of this new vegan "semi" naked cake I had in mind one of my childhood best dessert experiences. Layers of génoise imbibed in rose syrup that alternates fresh berries and whipped mascarpone cream. I can still recall the light textures of the Pan di Spagna sponge (the génoise sponge was so called in honour of the king of Spain), the tangy berries and the decadent cream, that I ate in spoonfuls under the kiwi pergola, at my grandma, the light dancing on the table and the kiwi leaves gently moving over our heads.

This cake recipe resulted to be a combination of those memories of Genoa traditional patisserie and my recent discovery, the English Bakewell cake. Coming from one of the birth places of fine patisserie it is inherent a desire to make eclectic mixtures and new discoveries from the tradition. Soon rooted in my imagination the bitter-sweet taste of almond frangipane, and rather accompanied with the unforgivably tangy-ness of blackberries. So, a star was born.
The caramel idea, instead, came barely reading the label of my favourite, seasonal, coffee brand. Although I drink coffee only occasionally and I usually drink golden milk with green tea (for the sake of my health and concentration), I love coffee very much. The fall blend was labelled with blackberries and caramel scents. A perfect conjure of flavours I couldn't resist to try.

The vegan sponge is so light properly recalling the original génoise. I used an old Italian method of making holes in the dry ingredients, and fill them with the wet ingredients just before covering with milk or, like in this case, water. And from the oven comes out a fragrant, feathery light sponge. And, yea I mean: it.is.vegan + fuss free. No margarine, no nasties. And as I was hoping the lightness of the cakes goes with the rich cream and tangy berries in a happy ever-after marriage.

This cake that doesn't leave you with the sensation of have been holding back from a proper enjoyment. And such a thing make me so happy. When I started my macrobiotic and vegan path I have been missing so much the richness and the aesthetic of the fine ingredients of a dessert like this one.
Here, I promise, you won't miss a thing. From the taste palette to the colours palette, is all a ode to all the 5+1 senses.


Serves 10 - 12
Makes 4 cakes of 16 cm diameter
Cooking time 35-45 min
Easy preparation, for beginners that dare.
 

Ingredients for the 2 white cakes

1 + 1/2 light spelt flour (patisserie kind, no stone-mill flours)
1 cup of unrefined raw sugar (here I use a mix of coconut and rapadura)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tsp of almond essence
1/4 tsp salt

1Tbsp/15ml baking powder (I use Doves Farm Organic)
-
1 cup of water
1/2 lemon zest
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp apple vinegar

Ingredients for the 2 pink cakes

1 + 1/2 light spelt flour (patisserie kind, no stone-mill flours)
1 cup of unrefined raw sugar such as rapadura or coconut
1/4 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tsp of almond essence
1/4 tsp salt

1Tbsp/15ml baking powder (I use Doves Farm Organic)
-
1 cup of berries purée, from fresh or frozen fruits (I used strawberries and only a few blackberries to have a perfect shadow)
1/2 lemon zest
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp apple vinegar


Ingredients for the frosting

200 gr good quality cream cheese or follow my instructions for nut cream cheese*
2 cans of refrigerated coconut milk, the cream only
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp xylitol (or more to taste)
pich of unrefined salt

Ingredients for the filling

150 gr good quality cream cheese or follow my instructions for nut cream cheese*
6/8 blackberries made in purée
1 Tbsp xylitol
-
1/3 cup of roasted almonds roughly chopped
2 Tbsp dehydrated berries
150 gr blackberries

Ingredients for the caramel sauce

1/3 cup ofraw unrefined sugar
1/4 cup coconut cream room temperature
3 Tbsp plant milkroom temperature
pinch of salt
 


Method

We start with making the frosting and the filling

For the frostingblend the coconut cream with the coconut oil, salt and the xylitol. Then gently incorporate the cream cheese to themixture. Don't blend the cream cheese. Leave to refrigerate until creamy and buttery solid.
For the filling onlyincorporate the purée with the cream cheese. Leave to refrigerate

NOTE : Take care that all ingredients are at the same temperature or they will curdle.

For the cakes:
Preheat the oven at 180C degrees. Grease 4 tins of 16 cm diameter circa.
If you have a oven with ventilation (fan) you can cook all 4 cakes in one go.

In two separate bowl mix well each of the two cakes dry ingredients.
Make 3 "holes" in each of the dry mixtures. In one pour the oil, in the other 2 pour the vanilla essence and the vinegar. Cover with filtered or spring water and gently incorporate all ingredients together.
The more gently you fold the wet ingredients with the dry, the less rounded the top of your cakes will come.
When the batters are ready pour in the greased tins and cook ate 180 C for 35 min or until the stick comes out clean.

When cooked, let cool down for 10 min, then remove from tins and leave on a rack. Let them cool completely before starting to assemble the layered cake.


Assembling

{prepare the caramel: gently heat the cream with the milk and the salt. On alow flame melt the sugar,  when starts bubbling add the warm cream, stirring. Leave to cool down to tepid before serving with the cake.}

When the cakes are perfectly cold and the frosting and filling are quite solid to hold onto the cake, you can start to assemble.

If the cakes are rounded cut off the top, taking care to cut them straight and similar in height. 

Start with the vanilla cake, spread a measured amount of filling in the centre up to 1.5 cm from edges. All around the pink filling pipe or scoop your white frosting. Cover with a mixture of blackberries, almonds and dried berries. Than place on top one of the pink cakes and repeat, then again a vanilla cake and repeat. The last cake will be the pink, place it upside down.

Now we can start decorating. Poke a long stick in the middle, all the way down into the cakes. This hold the layered cake while you work with the frosting. If necessary put back in the fridge for some moments before starting. 

Scoop a generous amount of frosting on top of the cake and with a spatula work it all around the top and down the sides of it, scraping away the excess very gently. You want to fill up any space leaving some of the cake edges still visible.

Keep working the sides until you are happy with the result, if needing some extra directions try here. Clean the edges and smooth, then decorate with flowers or fruit.


Serve immediately. Warning: it can make you very happy!

Silvia xx


* for the nut cheese
200 gr mix of macadamia and cashews soaked overnight and rinsed
2 Tbsp very firm plant based yogurt ( if are all runny leave it, you will only miss the probiotics)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp xylitol
1/2lemon juice or to taste
1/2 tsp unrefined salt or to taste

Blend all ingredients (except the yogurt) until perfectly smooth, if needed pass through a sift. Pour in a clean container and incorporate the yogurt. Leave to refrigerate until solid. Use as cream cheese.