This yummilicious cake provides a super shot of mocha, a coffee-cocoa marriage made in heaven achieved simply with diluted instant coffee and pure unsweetened cocoa powder. The sponge is light and moist with self-raising glutenfree flour or standard plain, aquafaba bean water (just drain a can of chickpeas) and unrefined light brown sugar. The mocha frosting can be made with vegan or dairy butter. I’m not vegetarian but have been very drawn to vegan desserts recently – they’re really yummy and I do enjoy a good baking experiment. Anyway you can make this cake vegan, non-vegan, glutenfree, non-glutenfree… as you like it! Whichever options you choose the result will be a delicious mocha layer cake or cupcakes. Mochalicious baby! 🙂
You can make cupcakes, a 4-layer cake or a 2-layer one (less risk of toppling or leaning!). An optional darker lower-sugar frosting (from my vegan chocolate layer cake) is great for the layers and sides, contrasting not with the sponge inside but nicely with the lighter coffee icing on top. If you fancy making two kinds of frosting it’s a yummy healthier choice. And for my friend’s birthday I decorated the cake with coffee-flavoured chocolate beans and chocolate flakes but I almost prefer plainer ‘almost-naked’ sides. These are the prototypes:
The rosettes are firmer with frosting containing more icing sugar (sad but true). For my final prototype I tried less sugar for the layers and sides then beat in extra icing sugar when decorating the top. The rosettes were still a bit droopy so a sprinkling of cocoa created a nicer effect. Do adapt the quantity of sugar to get a pipeable but not too sugary frosting.
The birthday cake went down very well (phew) and my friend who had a test cupcake said it wasn’t too sweet, with a good coffee flavour and perfectly balanced overall. And the aquafaba chickpea water whisked to very soft peak seems to promote a lovely crumb but an egg would work perfectly too. It’s a yummy cake if you’d like to make one.
Makes a mini 4-layer cake (2 x 12cm/4.7in diametre sandwich tins) or a 2-layer cake (1 x 16cm/6in diametre sandwich tin) or 12-16 muffins or cupcakes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (static, non-convection oven) or 160°C/320°F (fan-assisted, convection oven)
- Butter/grease and flour your tin(s). You can place circles of greaseproof paper at the bottom and flour the sides.
- Prepare the coffee liquid: dilute 4 teaspoons (6g) instant ground coffee granules in 4 teaspoons (20g) boiling water.
- 120g/1/2 cup + 2 tbsp + 1 tsp self-raising glutenfree flour (I use Doves Farm) or plain flour and add an extra 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- 15g/2 tbsp + 1 tsp pure unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (glutenfree or not)
- 1/4 tsp sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- pinch of salt
- 60g/4 and 1/2 tbsp vegan butter (I used a soft olive oil vegan butter)
- 85g/1/2 cup less 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar (or replace with ground xylitol)
- 20g/1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp apple purée
- 1/4 tsp (2g) pure vanilla extract
- 40ml/g almond milk (or any type of milk)
- 1/2 tsp (2g) apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 30g (2tbsp/scant 1/8 cup) aquafaba bean water (drained directly from a jar of low-sodium chickpeas, 0.1g or less salt per 100g) – you can replace with 1 beaten egg that you whisk gradually into your creamed butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- 2 tsp (8 – 9g) homemade coffee liquid or shop-bought coffee extract, to taste (you could make it less strong with 1 and 1/2 tsp)
- In a small-medium bowl whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sodium bicarbonate, cocoa and salt) to combine.
- In a small bowl combine the almond milk and vinegar or lemon juice.
- In a medium-large bowl whisk the softened butter till creamy then whisk in the sugar a few minutes till light and fluffy.
- Whisk in the apple purée and vanilla. Reserve your whisk for later use.
- Preferably with an electric whisk or mixer (or clean hand whisk), whisk up your aquafaba in a medium bowl until very soft peak consistency (it’s hard to get it firm).
- With a rubber spatula fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture until almost combined.
- Fold in half the milk mixture and 2 tsp coffee liquid until almost combined.
- The mixture may not be very pretty right now so get your whisk and slowly stir in the remaining flour mixture. Whisk very lightly to get a nice batter.
- Go back to the rubber spatula to delicately fold in the whisked aquafaba until just combined. Don’t overwork.
- You should have a lovely spongy batter. Pour into your moulds to fill around 2/3 to 3/4 and flatten a little with the back of a metal tablespoon.
- Bake the cupcakes 14-17 minutes and the 12cm diametre cake 18-20 minutes (the 16cm one should take 20-25 mins), depending on your oven. A skewer (or cake tester) inserted in the middle should come out clean and if you press the top lightly with your finger it should spring back a little.
- 120g/9 tbsp vegan butter (I used soft olive oil butter), softened
- 190g/1 and 1/2 cups icing/powdered sugar
- 1 to 1 and 1/2 tsp coffee liquid or extract, to taste
- 1 tsp almond milk (or other kind of milk)
- 1/2 tsp pure unsweetened cocoa, to taste
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
This frosting is pretty flexible so change the quantities as you like. Just whisk everything together until you get the desired taste and consistency to cover your cake.
- Slice your 2 cakes in half horizontally to get 4 layers (or your one cake into 2 layers). Make a line with icing sugar to remember how to place the slices together again and use DVDs of the correct height placed on each side to guide your long serrated bread knife. The sponge can be quite delicate so move carefully with a spatula or cake server. If one slice collapses or dies then stick it back together as a middle layer or make a 3-layer cake – yes, done that! 🙂
- Use about 2/3 of the frosting for the layers (and sides). With a small plain nozzle pipe concentric circles for the layers then spread with a small offset spatula knife or butter knife.
- Pipe thin lines around the sides and top then smooth to cover the cake.
- Add a little extra icing sugar to the remaining frosting to firm it up then place in a piping bag with something similar to a Wilton 2D piping nozzle to make rose swirls (pipe from the middle and swirl out from a height of around 1cm or more from the top of the cake). First make the rose in the middle then the ones surrounding it. Some of my roses have been better than others. Luckily everyone else usually thinks they’re cool!
- Lightly sprinkle a little cocoa powder through a sieve from a great height. This helps if you’re not totally happy with your roses! 🙂
Eating and storing
To have nicely-cut slices wait at least 4 hours or overnight before slicing. Store in airtight tupperware in the fridge up to 4 days or so, or in the freezer from 2 weeks (optimum) to a month or two. Bring to room temperature for 20 minutes or so (defrost for longer – 1 hour or more). This cake keeps really well.
Paris Cake Tour no.2
Before leaving I’m quickly going to share a second Paris cake tour with you (apologies to vegans here, please scroll down for info on a vegan pâtisserie and book). I get a great sense of nostalgia looking at this map and also feel I should thank mum for all her careful research – when we arrived in Paris she took out around 15 (or was it more?!) A4 sheets of information on pâtisseries, with maps and reviews! Bless her. Well you know where I got my love for cakes from. Here’s the map. And this time it includes a common tourist destination: the Eiffel Tower! Something to look at between cakes… or while eating cake. 🙂
And here are some of the cakes. The chocolate one is the classic Feuille d’Automne and the lemon tart has won an award! Also really loved Borissou’s green tea layer cake…
The vegan VG pâtisserie is a little off the tourist trail but not too far from le Marais or la Republique. You can find information and some lovely trip advisor reviews for VG pâtisserie here. It all looked really good but I’m afraid I need to go back to do a proper test as the apple turnover I bought got lost at the bottom of my bag and eating it two days later is not a conclusive test (oops). If you can’t go to Paris and have a little culinary French (or the willingness to use a translator) the owner of VG Bérénice Leconte has also brought out an amazingly beautiful book Pâtisserie Vegan (see here on Amazon France for more details of the bakes and reviews). It’s full of classic pâtisserie but all vegan: pastries, flans, macarons and cakes with step-by-step instructions and some photos. Although I’m not vegan I couldn’t resist buying this stunning book and will try out some recipes in the future!
Anyway I hope some of the information and maybe the map can be useful for you one day or that you enjoy looking and just imagining… My apologies if you’re dying to visit Paris and can’t right now. Snif. I miss the pâtisseries!!!
Never mind. I’m cutting slices of the vegan mocha layer cake if you’re interested?
Bidding you another fond farewell dear reader and wishing you as always a lovely yummilicious week with some cake fantasies, happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x