You Have to Try Amy Chaplin's Triple-Decker Vegan Coconut Cake
We've been fans of indie food magazine Cherry Bombe since its launch in 2013 (long before Martha was on the cover!). Not only do we share the biannual publication's mission -- to celebrate food and women -- but we also love that founders Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu put women front and center behind the scenes, working with mostly female writers, photographers, and illustrators. Their just-released first cookbook is a beautiful extension of the magazine, with a striking bubble-gum pink cover and a compilation of recipes from women Diamond and Wu admire, from chefs and bakers to food stylists and farmers. The book is also dedicated to a group of "domestic goddesses, culinary trailblazers, and queens of the kitchens," that have inspired the authors, including Alice Waters, Madhur Jaffrey, and none other than our own mighty boss.
Another name we were excited to see: Amy Chaplin, private chef, cookbook author, and the genius behind some of our favorite vegan desserts on marthastewart.com, such as White Chocolate-Cardamom Mousse and Dutch Apple Pie. Here, we excerpt the recipe she contributed to "Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook," a naturally sweetened three-layer cake filled with jammy berries and finished with creamy coconut-vanilla frosting. As Chaplin says in the book, "I've served this cake to friends and family on special occasions for years and the look of sheer delight on their faces is always a thrill. Although I've made many variations, this version is my most requested." It might just become your most requested recipe, too.
Coconut Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting & Berry Filling
Makes one 8-inch three-layer cake
3 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
1/2 cup agar flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 vanilla bean
4 teaspoons arrowroot
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pans
3 1/2 cups whole-grain flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups unsweetened, shredded, and full-fat dried coconut
1 1/2 cups grade A maple syrup
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
3/4 cup fruit juice-sweetened raspberry jam
1 teaspoon arrowroot
2 teaspoons filtered water
1. The night before, make the frosting: Combine the coconut milk, agar flakes, salt, maple syrup, and rice syrup in a medium pot. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pot; add the pod. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking every minute or so. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the agar flakes have completely dissolved. To check that they have dissolved, remove a small amount of the mixture with a spoon and slowly pour it back into the pot. If you see any translucent pieces of agar, cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes more before checking again.
2. Dissolve the arrowroot in the filtered water and slowly pour it into the pan with the coconut milk mixture, whisking continuously. Raise the heat to medium and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture begins to boil again. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour the mixture into a baking dish or large shallow bowl and let cool. Once the mixture has stopped steaming, remove the vanilla bean pod and refrigerate until cold and solid, about 2 hours.
3. Cut the frosting into rough 1-inch pieces. They will resemble firm tofu. Transfer them to a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary and check for lumps. If the frosting separates, just keep blending until it comes together again -- it can take up to 5 minutes to get completely uniform and smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate overnight or until completely cool.
4. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of each with parchment paper cut to fit.
5. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Blend 2 cups of the shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground. (Be careful not to blend too long, as it will turn into coconut butter.) Add the ground coconut to the flour mixture along with the remaining 1/2 cup coconut, using a whisk to stir and making sure everything is well combined. Set aside.
6. In another bowl, whisk the maple syrup, filtered water, oil, vinegar, salt, and vanilla until emulsified. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture and use the whisk to gently stir everything together. Don't overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and check that there are no lumps of flour at the bottom.
7. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cakes begin to pull away from the edges of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cakes should be a deep golden color.
8. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool completely in the pans before turning them out onto individual plates and gently removing the parchment paper.
9. Make the berry filling: Put the berries and jam in a medium pot and place over medium-high heat. Stir until the mixture begins to simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until the blueberries burst. Dissolve the arrowroot in the filtered water and slowly drizzle it into the pot, stirring continuously. Once the mixture thickens and begins to simmer again, remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
10. Assemble the cake: Be sure that the cake and the berry filling are completely cool and the frosting is well chilled before you begin assembly. Set aside 1 cup of the frosting to decorate the top.
11. On a flat plate or cake stand, place one cake top-side down. Spread about 1/2 cup of the frosting over the top, then cover with half of the berry filling. Don't spread the berries all the way to the edges. Repeat with the next layer, then place the third layer on top. Ice the top with frosting. Leave the sides naked; if you prefer, or go ahead and frost them.
12. Place the reserved frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a metal flower tip. Pipe decorations of your choice around the perimeter of the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. As vegan cakes can crumble at room temperature, this cake is best served chilled.