Shannon Martinez's Black Forest cake

Photo: by Nikki To (courtesy Hardie Grant Books)

How do you banish memories of sickly sweet Black Forest cake? You look to Smith & Daughters chef Shannon Martinez, the hardest working woman in food, who has created an all-vegan, all-star recipe in her new book Vegan With Bite.

“Chocolate cake is the last thing I would choose as a dessert,” says Shannon Martinez. “But using salt and olive oil transforms this one into a decidedly adult cake. Sour cherries add another element of balance, making it one chocolate cake that could prove the exception.”

Serves 8-12


500 ml (2 cups) soy milk

2 tsp apple-cider vinegar

90 g (¾ cup) cocoa powder

300 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp salt

460 g (2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar

250 ml (1 cup) olive oil

200 g dark chocolate, melted

Dark chocolate shavings and fresh cherries (optional), to garnish

Quick cherry jam

400 g (2 cups) pitted sour cherries (jarred or fresh)

230 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract 1 bay leaf

2 strips orange zest

Coconut whip

1 × 400 ml tin coconut cream, well chilled (see Notes)

60 g (½ cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar

2 tsp vanilla paste or extract


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Grease and line two 20 cm (8 in) springform cake tins.

2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and vinegar. Add the cocoa and bring to the boil, whisking until it thickens slightly, then remove from the heat and set aside. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl, then stir in the salt and sugar.

3. Stir the olive oil through the melted chocolate, then whisk it into the warm milk. Add to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then carefully remove and cool completely on a wire rack. (You can cut the cooled cakes in half horizontally if you would like four cake layers.)

5. Meanwhile, to make the jam, place all the ingredients along with a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over a high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Remove the bay leaf and orange zest, then pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

6. For the coconut whip, take the tin of coconut cream out of the fridge, being careful not to shake it up. Gently open the tin and scoop the solid coconut cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, leaving behind the coconut water that has separated at the bottom. (Save the coconut water for another use, such as your next curry or smoothie.) Add the icing sugar and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy. Store in the fridge until needed.

7. To assemble, top one layer of cake with just under half the coconut whip, building a lip around the edge, then drizzle over a layer of cherry jam. Top with the second cake and roughly mask with the remaining coconut whip, or just pipe it on the top. Drizzle with the remaining cherry jam, then use a peeler to finish with dark chocolate shavings and fresh cherries if you have some.

8. Any leftovers will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


It’s important to use top-quality coconut cream made with only coconut extract and water (90% coconut extract content or more works the best). If you can plan ahead, chill it in the fridge for at least 24 hours before baking the cake.

If you don’t have time to make the coconut whip, just use bought whipping cream.

This is an edited extract from Vegan with Bite by Shannon Martinez, published by Hardie Grant Books (RRP $34.99) and available where all good books are sold.