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tree stump cake with meringue mushrooms on top.
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Vegan Tree Stump Cake

Vegan tree stump cake with chocolate sponge, chocolate cremeux filling, coffee Swiss meringue buttercream, tempered chocolate bark, and meringue mushrooms. Completely eggless and dairy-free. This vegan woodland cake is the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table.
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 35 minutes
Chilling Time 6 hours
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 455kcal

Ingredients

Chocolate cremeux (filling) - Make the day/night before

Chocolate sponge - Make the day/night before

Chocolate bark

Garnish

Instructions

Chocolate cremeux

  • Add the almond milk, caster sugar, and cornflour to a saucepan and place on it a low heat. Whisk vigorously for a couple of minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Slice the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod to a saucepan along with the coconut milk, and salt.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, while continuously whisking. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, the custard will start to thicken. Make sure you are constantly stirring the custard to avoid it burning to the bottom of the pan. I recommend alternating between a whisk and rubber spatula.
  • Place the chopped chocolate in a large heat-resistant bowl and place a sieve on top of the bowl. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any large particles from the vanilla pod, into the bowl of chocolate.
  • Use a spatula to fold the hot custard through the chocolate, until it melts together into a smooth mixture. Then use an electric whisk or emersion blender to whisk/blend the mixture for a couple of minutes until silky smooth and lump-free. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge overnight (or for at least 6 hours).

Chocolate sponge

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F). Line the base of three 6" cake tins with a circle of parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray.
  • To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soya milk and apple cider vinegar to a jug, stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add the strong coffee and sunflower oil to the buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and use a spatula to fold everything together until you have a smooth batter.
  • Divide the batter into the lined cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Check they are ready by inserting a skewer, it should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15-20 minutes and then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool further. Refrigerate the cakes in an airtight container until ready to use. Chilling the cakes for a few hours (or overnight) makes them easier to work with and decorate.

Chocolate bark

  • Place 2 large sheets of parchment paper (approx 25" in length) on your work surface.
  • Note: If you're not bothered about tempering the chocolate you can simply melt it over a water bath (bain-marie) and skip the following 2 steps.
  • Add ⅔ of the finely chopped chocolate (200g) to a heat-resistant bowl and place on top of a saucepan that is about ¼ ways filled with simmering water (bain-marie). Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula every so often to melt it evenly. Place your candy thermometer into the chocolate and once it reaches 55°C (131°F) remove it from the heat.
  • Reserve one ⅓ of the melted chocolate and add the chopped chocolate to the remaining ⅔ of melted chocolate. Place your candy thermometer into the chocolate and keep stirring until the temperature reaches 28°C (82°F). Stir in the reserved ⅓ of melted chocolate and stir until the temperature reaches back up to 31°C (88°F).
  • Divide the melted chocolate between the 2 sheets of parchment paper and use a spatula to spread the chocolate out into an even rectangular layer. Allow the chocolate to slightly set until it is not runny but still soft enough to roll (about 5 minutes). Next, gently roll up the sheet of parchment paper into a cylinder and place it into the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes. Repeat with the second sheet of parchment.
  • Once set, very gently unroll the sheet of parchment paper. The chocolate "bark" will break off in long pieces. Sit these on a tray lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Frosting

Assembly

  • Cut the domes from the tops of the chocolate sponge cake to get them as even as possible.
  • Remove the chocolate cremeux from the fridge and give it a stir. To assemble the cake, add a little chocolate cremeux onto your turntable to secure the cake. Place the first layer of cake and follow with a layer of chocolate cremeux. Smooth out the cremeux using a spatula, making sure not to go all the way to the outer edges. Continue this process for the second layer and top with the third chocolate sponge.
  • Use a spatula to spread the coffee buttercream on top and on the sides of the cake. Use a cake scraper to smooth out the surface - it does not need to be perfect as the chocolate bark will be covering the sides.
  • To get the tree trunk effect on top of the cake, use a fork to scrape lines into the buttercream in a circular motion. Then use the back of a small spoon to create circular rings from the middle to the outer edges of the cake.
  • Wearing latex gloves, gently press the chocolate bark into the sides of the cake using the most attractive pieces. You will likely have some bark leftover, which you can reserve and melt for another recipe.
  • Optionally, you can decorate with vegan meringue mushrooms and ground pistachios.
  • Store the cake in an airtight container or cover with cling film and refrigerate it until needed. Remove it from the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

Notes

  • Chilled coconut milk: Refrigerate the canned coconut milk overnight, then use only the thick cream from the top of the can.
  • Strong coffee: Can be substituted with decaf.

Nutrition

Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 243mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 77IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 6mg