This cake is a classic, approached in a less conventional way. If a recipe is not broken then it certainly does not need fixing but I think that the caramel notes coming in through the walnut praline are going to revolutionise your expectations of this teatime classic.
As a bonus recipe, I have also included the Chocolate & Walnut Praline Truffles used to decorate the cake too!
Oh, and it’s all vegan.
You will need 3x 8″ sandwich tins,
lined with baking parchment
180⁰C / 375⁰F / Gas Mark 4 Oven Pre-heated
Makes one 8” cake
and 24 Chocolate Walnut Praline Truffles
For the cake
250ml sunflower oil
450g caster sugar
375ml dairy-free plain yoghurt
500ml soy milk (or alternative milk of your choice)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
600g plain flour
35g instant espresso powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon pinch of salt
100g California Walnuts
For the Walnut Praline
200g California Walnuts
200g caster sugar
For the Chocolate Truffles
125g 70% dark chocolate
125ml coconut milk
½ tsp coconut oil
30ml maple syrup
150g California Walnut Praline
For the frosting
250g dairy-free block margarine
200g vegetable shortening
500g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2-3 tbsp soy milk
- Whisk oil, sugar, yoghurt, soy milk, and vanilla extract together into a smooth liquid.
- Mix flour, instant espresso powder, cocoa, raising agents, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently to combine.
Gently crumble the California Walnuts into the batter and divide between three 8” cake tins.
- Bake for 30 minutes until risen and springy. Poke a cocktail stick into the centre of the cakes to be certain – they should come out with no wet batter attached to them.
Remove the cakes from their tins as soon as they are cool enough to handle and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- While the cakes are cooling, prepare the praline by first toasting California Walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. This should only take 2-3 minutes and I like to keep the nuts moving to prevent them burning. When you are happy with the smell of toasted walnuts, tip them from the pan onto a chopping board and chop into small pieces.
- Using the same frying pan, melt the sugar into a caramel. This will take around 5 minutes over a medium heat and the sugar at the centre will turn to liquid before the outer edges. Try to resist stirring though it won’t be the end of the world if you do!
Tumble the chopped California Walnuts into the caramel and give them a good coating. Tip out onto a non-stick surface to cool.
- While the chocolate is melting, break 150g of your California Walnut Praline slab into a food processor and blitz into a fine crumb.
Stir the mixture into a smooth ganache before adding around 2/3 of your California Walnut Praline (saving the remainder for rolling) and set aside to cool, first on the side and then in the fridge until set.
- Roll teaspoon-sized portions of cold ganache in your hand to make balls of truffle. Roll the truffles in praline, cocoa, or icing sugar and set aside.
- To make the frosting, beat the margarine and vegetable shortening together until pale and creamy. I use my freestanding mixer for this job and essentially treat the whole process the same as if I was making non-vegan frosting.
- Add your icing sugar and mix in. Once fully combined, beat for a few minutes more to bring it to a nice soft consistency.
Add your vanilla and a tablespoon or two of milk (if needed) to prevent the frosting from getting too heavy and continue beating for around 5 minutes. The result should be a light and pale frosting.
- Blitz your remaining California Walnut Praline in the food processor and mix this through the frosting to flavour it and give it a gorgeous rustic texture.
- Sandwich your cake layers with frosting and spread over the top and sides of the cake too. A palette knife makes this far easier than it sounds!
Decorate the cake with your chocolate truffles, any remaining praline, and California Walnuts before serving triumphantly.