I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with three interns over the past month. One of them, Demetria, has created a ridiculously decedant and delicious chocolate cake with thyme and blackberry salt.

This photo would not have been possible without the hand lettering talent of Victoria Bellavia, the painstaking chocolate chip styling of Caroline Newton, and the retouching assistance of intern Joey Diaz.

Take it away Demetria!

Chocolate Thyme, Chocolate Time
Thyme Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Sea Salt – – a cake by Demetria at Engrained Baking

When Vanessa asked if I would be willing to make a cake for her blog, my first thought was: umm, yes – create a delicious cake recipe and then help take beautiful photos of it – dream job!  So, I took out my favorite vegan chocolate cake recipe and began dreaming up what flavor combinations would fit just right together – one of my favorite ways to use my time.  I love combining chocolate with herbs, and honestly, being a mountain girl at heart, I really love adding herbs, teas, weird spices or even tree bark to pretty much everything.  So, I thought of the combination: chocolate, thyme, and blackberry, with a bit of sea salt and something clicked – that’s it.  A delicious combination of woodland thyme and blackberry with rich dark chocolate, and then, I mean, salty and sweet is always, good always,  right?  There are various ways to add an herb’s flavoring into a cake, but I opted to soak each layer in a bit of thyme simple syrup.  It gives just the sweet, subtle hint of thyme at the end of each decadent chocolate bite.  Then it’s all finished off with that perfect sweet, salty combination with homemade blackberry sea salt.


This photo shoot was so much fun too.  It’s one of the first times that my messiness in the kitchen has ever worked to my advantage.  Vanessa took my strewn about bowls, ladles, and kitchen tools and turned it into art.  It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to work with her and watch the process as it happens everyday.  Thanks again Vanessa! xoxo

Vegan Chocolate Cake:

3 ¾ cups spelt flour   ( 380 grams )
1 ½ cup granulated sugar   ( 285 grams )
⅔ cup cocoa powder   ( 75 grams )
2 cups apple juice  ( 455 grams )
1 cup canola oil  (210 grams  )
1 tsp b. powder
1 ½ tsp.  b. soda
1 pinch salt

Vegan Chocolate Ganache:
2 ¾ cups vegan chocolate chips         500 grams chocolate chips
2 cups soy milk            500 grams soy milk

Thyme Simple Syrup:

1 large bunch of thyme (about 3 ounces)
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Blackberry salt:
5-8 blackberries
⅓ cup sea salt

For the Cake:

I.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease three 8” pans and line the base with parchment paper.

II.  Except for the salt, sift together all of the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.  Mix together.

III.  Combine the oil, juice, and salt and whisk until the mixture is thoroughly emulsified.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

  IV.  Pour batter into the prepared cake tins until each tin is half full.  Bake for 30 -35 minutes, or until a cake tester  inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  The cake should also spring back when lightly pressed.  Place tins on wire rack and let cool.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

 First pour your chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl.   Heat the soy milk over medium low heat and stir continuously.  The milk is considered done with small bubbles have formed around the pan, but the milk has not started boiling.  Pour the milk into the bowl of chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute, allowing the chocolate chips to melt.  Then take a whisk and whisk until the ganache is smooth and fully incorporated. Leave out to cool and set or place in freezer to speed up the process, if it does not have enough time to set it will end up acting more as a glaze.

For the Thyme Simple Syrup:

Combine sugar, water and thyme in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then let simmer for 15 -20 minutes to steep the thyme.

For the Blackberry Salt:

    Place the blackberries in a bowl and mash them with a fork, spreading the juice from the blackberries around the bowl. Take the blackberry mush out of the bowl, leaving only the juice.  Pour the salt into the bowl and stir around until the salt is completely coated.

To assemble:

  Place the 1st layer of cake on an 8” cardboard circle, and then on top of a cake stand.  Trim the top off with a serrated knife so that you have a flat layer.  Take a brush and  dip it in your thyme simple syrup.  Lightly dab the thyme simple syrup on the top of the layer until you’ve covered it.  This will moisten your cake as well as getting in that delicious thyme flavor.  Allow it to soak into the cake and then spread your vegan chocolate ganache over the layer.  Gently press your second layer over the first and repeat this process until you’ve placed your 3rd layer and soaked it with your thyme simple syrup.  Ice the cake with the remaining chocolate ganache.

  If you’d like the chocolate chip detailing , pour some mini chocolate chips into a bowl.  Pick up your cake from the cardboard, making sure that the cardboard is not bigger than the cake.  Then scoop up the chocolate chips and cup them in your hand, lightly pressing them to the side of the cake, rotating the cake as you coat each area.
Then you can sprinkle your blackberry salt on top of the cake and decorate however you’d like!

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