Vegan Festive Hazelnut Praline Cake

Thursday 20 December 2018

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In August, I took my baking to a brand new realm and baked my first official blog cake.

It was inspired by my love of watermelons and tasted absolutely delicious. I mentioned that I didn’t have any "traditional" cake making tools, as I was basically dipping my toe in the cake making waters.

Seeing as I knew I wanted to create the ultimate cake for Christmas, with a little help of way, way too many several Hobbycraft orders, I treated myself to a few things to make assembling a cake a little easier; a turntable and a cake scraper. Honestly, nothing that exciting, (ok, I'm lying. I was really excited about the turntable), but I am slowly adding to my baking equipment. Now that I have all the tools I need, it's time to talk about cake.

festive hazelnut praline cake

I think I may have changed my ideas on what flavour to include in this cake every day since October. Some of the flavours that didn't make the cut were chocolate orange, gingerbread, coconut, chocolate and maple, red velvet, and white chocolate and cranberry. Hopefully, the sound of a three-layer, vanilla and chocolate sponge with a hazelnut praline buttercream cake sounds like the best out of all of those options. The three-layers are split into three colours; the original vanilla, red vanilla, and chocolate. I did originally have the red vanilla layer as red velvet, but the colour wasn't as intense as I wanted it because of the added cocoa powder, so I rebaked it with just the red food dye. I love the little layer of chocolate; it's so rich and definitely enhances all the other flavours throughout the entire cake.

festive hazelnut praline cakefestive hazelnut praline cakefestive hazelnut praline cake

Even though my brand new tools have really helped me throughout making this cake, having patience and keeping organised was definitely the biggest aid for me. Also, watching endless cake baking videos. One of the biggest tips I learnt was how to bake a cake level and stop it from getting that peaked centre. It's all about how the heat from the oven cooks the outside first, but the middle will continue to rise until it's fully baked. To stop this, I made a diy cake strip, which helped keep my cakes so lovely and even. Another tip I learnt was to freeze your cakes before levelling them. There are way fewer crumbs and it was more tactile to work with. Plus it makes moving your cake a dream. Take your time, and you can honestly create the most amazing of cakes.

I'm learning how to make and decorate a festive hazelnut praline cake with @helloaycan

festive hazelnut praline cake

I am obsessed with praline, though I've got to be honest, I didn't know what praline actually was until years of enjoying it. (For those who aren't sure, it's a combination of caramelised sugar and nuts ground down to a paste). It's my absolute favourite flavour and is the best accompaniment to a very simple vanilla buttercream. I sprinkled some of the praline powder on top of the praline buttercream for a little crunch too. I used the praline buttercream between the layers of the cake and used a vanilla buttercream around the outside. This cake was originally going to be white, but how could I not make a pink cake? For the final festive finish, I coated the bottom with Baking Time Club sprinkles and fondant stars with a little bit of gold edible glitter. I decorated the top with homemade white chocolate shards, which again are decorated with Baking Time Club sprinkles, my coconut and lemon snowball truffles, more fondant stars, and candy canes. With a few basic decorations, you can make your cake look super festive (and very tasty).

I am so proud of this cake. The combination of the vanilla and chocolate sponge are so simple but so delicious, and the vanilla and nutty buttercreams just add so many new flavours and textures, I just love it!

festive hazelnut praline cakefestive hazelnut praline cake


This recipe makes 14 servings of cake.


  • 455ml / 2 cups dairy-free milk
  • 40ml / 2 tbsp + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 443g / 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 350g / 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 115ml / 1/2 cup flavourless oil
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 33g cocoa powder
  • red food gel
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 55ml water
  • 90g hazelnuts
  • Hazelnut praline paste (about 1/2 cup)
  • 125g / 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 400g / 3 cups icing sugar
  • 50g / 1/4 cup dairy-free butter
  • 125g / 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 400g / 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pink food gel (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C(fan) / 350°F / gas mark 4. Line 3 8" cake tins.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the dairy-free milk and cider vinegar, and leave for 10 minutes to curdle. In a large bowl, sift the flour, caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda, and baking powder, and mix together with a spoon.
  3. Pour the dairy-free milk and cider vinegar mix into the dry ingredients, and add the flavourless oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Split into three equal bowls. For the first, leave as. For the second, add red food gel. For the third, add cocoa powder. Evenly pour the mixture into the lined tins, and straight into the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. They should leave a knife clean when tested, but also feel springy to touch. Leave them to cool on a cooling rack.
  5. Hazelnut Praline: Heat the sugar and water in medium pan over a low heat and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn the heat up slightly and allow the mixture to caramelised - don't mix, only swirl to stop it from sticking. Once it is an amber colour, add in your hazelnuts and pour onto a lined tray.
  6. Once the sugar and hazelnut are set, break into smaller pieces, and then place into a food processor and blend until a fine crumb. Reserve a little to sprinkle over your layers. Continue to blend the remaining crumbs until it had turned into a paste. You can add a little oil if it doesn't look like your praline is combining.
  7. Hazelnut Praline Buttercream: To prepare the buttercream, in a large bowl, beat together using a hand or standing whisk, the vegetable shortening and praline paste until it's light and creamy. Gradually pour in the sifted icing sugar, half a cup at a time. If it starts to get dry, add a little dairy-free milk, one tsp at a time.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled, place one layer onto a board and pipe on your buttercream and sprinkle over your praline crumbs. Repeat with the remaining layers. Using a thin layer of buttercream, crumb coat your cake, and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  9. Vanilla Buttercream: In a large bowl, beat together the vegetable shortening and butter until it's light and creamy. Add in the vanilla extract and pink food gel and mix. Gradually pour in the icing sugar, one cup at a time.
  10. Put the icing into a piping bag and pipe the icing around the cake and smooth it over with a cake scraper or spatula. Decorate with sprinkles, fondant stars, white chocolate bark, and truffles.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of my festive cake. I think I may make a few more cakes next year, so let me know what sort of flavour combinations you like. My advent calendar is almost full, so take a look at all the festivities.