Vegan Birthday Sponge Cake with Strawberry Cream

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We never got THAT many messages from you about a recipe as for this one. If you haven't grown up in Germany, you probably don't know it even, but many of our German readers ate this "Benjamin Blümchen Torte" in their childhood. Benjamin Blümchen is a famous cartoon elephant and we're so happy that a lot of you shared our excitement when we announced this recipe on Instagram.

The single layers of this cake are quite simple: shortcrust pastry is the base of the cake and topped with sponge cake, chocolate cream, another layer of sponge cake, and strawberry cream which covers the whole cake. The cake is decorated with vanilla cream, sprinkles, and always had a picture of the elephant and a small toy on top (such a birthday treat!). Even though most of these layers can easily be veganized, we couldn't find any vegan recipe online. UNTIL NOW.

Here are a few things to consider before baking this cake:

Baking pans: Theoretically, you need two sizes of baking forms for the cake: a round springform pan of 24 cm and one of 20 cm. The original cake is much smaller (probably 18 cm and 16 cm), but I wanted to use baking pan sizes that you probably already have at home, so you don't have to convert amounts or buy new baking pans.

If you only have a 24 cm springform pan, bake shortcrust pastry and sponge cake one after the other in that one, then cut out a circle of 20 cm with a cake ring or place a plate on the cake and cut a 2 cm edge around it.

If you have a springform pan with a completely different diameter, use the rule of three to calculate all measurements down to 1 cm and then calculate up to your diameter again.

Vegan heavy cream: Make sure to buy whippable vegan heavy cream as there are also some vegan creams that are for cooking only. Those can not be whipped and are therefor not suitable for this recipe. In Germany, you can get some of brands like "Schlagfix" (you can find it in larger supermarkets or online) and "Soyatoo" (you can find it in organic stores or online). Just make sure to always chill your vegan heavy cream in the fridge over night. Cold vegan heavy cream is much easier to whip.

Vegan quark In Germany, you can find vegan quark in larger supermarkets or organic stores. We've already tried brands like Provamel, Alpro Skyr and Sojade. They should all work well with this cake.

Strawberry cream: I made the strawberry cream with strawberry jam (without any chunks or seeds), so you could prepare this cake in every season. If you should bake this cake during strawberry season though, you can also boil down fresh strawberries and mix them with the vegan heavy cream and vegan quaek.

Vegan crumbles: The original cake uses different types of sprinkles, but at least in Germany these are not vegan as they contain the colour E120 (real carmine from scale insects). Alternatively we used organic vegan sprinkles that are still doing the job here and are just as pretty.

Decoration: The original cake has a food-colored wafer on top, but we decided to just go with a small toy that you can buy in stores or order online. If you want to add the wafer, make sure to pay attention to vegan options.

Planning: With this cake, planning is crucial as all layers should be chilled before you assemble the cake. I baked the shortcrust pastry and the sponge cake the evening before and let them cool down overnight. I also prepared the three creams the evening before and let them cool down overnight in the fridge. This way, I was able to assemble the cake the next morning and refrigerate it for another 4-5 hours before serving it in the afternoon. This worked perfectly. You should definitely NOT bake this cake in a rush.

Vegan Birthday Sponge Cake with Strawberry Cream

1 cake
4 hours (+ cooling time overnight)

Ingredients

For the shortcrust (∅ 24 cm / 9.5 inches)

  • 200 g (1.66 cup) flour
  • 70 g (0.33 cup) sugar
  • 130 g (0.5 cup) vegan butter
  • cold water, if needed
  • butter for greasing
  • flour for dusting

For the sponge cake (∅ 20 cm / 8 inches)

  • 330 g (2.66 cup) flour
  • 150 g (0.75 cup) sugar
  • 8 g (0.5 tbsp) baking powder
  • 8 g (2 tsp) vanilla sugar
  • 375 ml (1.5 cup) sparkling water
  • 75 ml (0.33 cup) vegetable oil (canola oil or sunflower oil)
  • butter for greasing
  • flour for dusting

For the strawberry cream

  • 625 g (1.33 lbs) smooth strawberry jelly
  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegan whippable heavy cream
  • 16 g (4 tbsp) whipped cream stabilizer
  • 16 g (1.25 tbsp) vanilla sugar
  • 50 g (1.75 oz) agar-agar
  • 1000 g (2.25 lbs) vegan quark

For the chocolate part

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
  • 200 ml (1 cup) vegan whippable heavy cream
  • 8 g (2 tbsp) whipped cream stabilizer
  • 8 g (2 tsp) vanilla sugar
  • 25 g (0.25 cups) chocolate powder (unsweetend)
  • 200 g (7 oz) vegan quark
  • optional: 5 g plant-based binding agent

For the vanilla cream

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 200 ml (1 cup) vegan whippable heavy cream
  • 8 g (2 tbsp) whipped cream stabilizer
  • 8 g (2 tsp) vanilla sugar

Also

  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • vegan sprinkles
  • a playing piece (optional)

Instructions

It's best to prepare all cakes and creams the evening before, then let them chill overnight.

Shortcrust pastry

  1. Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Add butter in smaller dices and start to incorporate the butter with cold hands until fine crumbles form. Add as much cold water as neededuntil a smooth dough forms.
  2. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F (circulating air). Grease a springform pan (∅ 24 cm / 9.5 inches) with vegan butter and dust with flour. Add the chilled shortcrust pastry and press it down with your hands to get a smooth bottom. Prick with a fork several times.
  4. Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool down.

Sponge cake

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F (circulating air). Mix flour, sugar, vanilla sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. Add sparkling water and vegetable oil, but only mix shortly until you can't see any more flour.
  2. Grease a springform pan (∅ 20 cm / 8 inches) with vegan butter and dust with flour. Add the batter.
  3. Bake in the middle of the oven for approx 30 minutes. To test if it's done, insert a wooden toothpick to the cake – it should come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool down.

Strawberry cream

  1. Add vegan heavy cream, whipped cream stabilizer, and vanilla sugar to a bowl. Beat until stiff, then let chill in the fridge.
  2. Add strawberry jam to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add agar-agar and let simmer for approx. 2 minutes. The mixture will be quite thick and it will be tough to even stir it. Remove from heat.
  3. Add vegan quark and whipped cream directly to the strawberry mixture and whisk until you get a smooth mixture. Refrigerate the strawberry cream until needed.

Chocolate part

  1. Melt dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Once it's melted emove from heat and let cool down for approx. 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add vegan heavy cream, whipped cream stabilizer, cocoa powder, and vanilla sugar to a bowl. Beat until stiff.
  3. Add vegan quark and melted chocolate to the whipped heavy cream and gentlry fold in. Refrigerate until needed.

If you chill the chocolate part long enough, it should be easy to spread it onto the cake later. But if you feel like that's tricky with your cream, add some plant-based binding agent to the cold chocolate cream. That should help with assembling.

Vanilla cream

  1. Halve a vanilla bean with a knife and scrape out the pulp.
  2. Add vegan heavy cream, whipped cream stabilizer, vanilla pulp, and vanilla sugar to a bowl. Beat until stiff, then let chill in the fridge.

It's important that all parts for this cake are refrigerated and used chilled before you assemble the cake. When assembling the cake, you can also always transfer the cake to the fridge in between steps.

Assemble the cake

  1. Remove the cooled sponge cake from the springform pan and halve horizontally with a large knife to get two cake layers.
  2. First add the shortcrust pastry onto a (rotatable) cake plate. Spread with apricot jam, then add the bottom layer of the sponge cake centered on top.
  3. Spread chocolate cream in the center of the sponge cake. The layer should be approx. 3-4 cm high, but you should keep at approx. 1-2 cm left free to the outer edge of the cake.
  4. If you got one, it's now best to add a cake ring around your cake. Fill up the cake with strawberry cream until strawberry and chocolate cream finish off consisely and smooth.
  5. Add the second sponge cake layer on top of the cake, then remove the cake ring, and spread the remaining strawberry cream all around the cake to form a smooth outer layer.

Garnish

  1. Pipe 10-12 larger swirls of cream on the outer edge of the top layer of the cake. Add 10-12 more swirls of cream next to the first ones on the inside circle of the cake, so you get two rows of cream swirls.
  2. In the very center of the cake's topside either add a small toy or a wafer. Garnish with vegan sprinkles.
  3. Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours before serving.
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