Tag Archives: chocolate cake

Hello, 2012

It is bad to suppress laughter. It goes back down to your hips.
~ Author unknown

Christmas has done it again. Rushed in and tiptoed out, leaving January in place of the Christmas tree. I know it’s already the 2nd, but I still feel surprised whenever I see the date on anything. Do you feel like you’ve arrived at 2012? I feel like I can see it in the distance, but I’m still on a boat bound for it.

I’m having to tell my hand to get with the times and write “2012” in my journal entries.

January! Already!

Are you still eating Christmas treats? I am, but there is no ham, no chicken, no Christmas cake. The one I am loving the most now is this spicy jar – Grandma’s potent hand-pounded shrimp and chilli paste, flown over by plane. It’s one distinct flavour that transports me instantly to a time in my life that involved mahjong, fried shallots, playgrounds and congee. Good memories. I am glad that I only need a teaspoon or two of it for each dish, so I expect it to last me through January at least…

I also wanted to tell you about this recipe I found the other day. I know many people are now in “diet mode”, having feasted excessively over Christmas. I, however, was in cake mode right after Christmas, though I did not want something too rich. I wanted good-cake-in-a-jiffy, and I knew that might be too much to ask for, even as I searched Google…

But I found it.

I found great-cake-in-a-jiffy in this cocoa and applesauce cake. It fell out of the tin in one piece, and it was moist, beckoning, gently sweet… I liked it instantly. This cake is strong enough for you to hold a slice of it in one hand and eat it like a sandwich (without spilling crumbs!), moist enough to ooze easily past your tongue and down your throat, light enough to have two slices in one go, and definitely delicious enough to make again. Thank you, The Pastry Affair.

And now I will leave you, readers, because I need to go and buy a chicken for dinner tonight. Friends are coming over, and I want dinner*** to be palatable, pleasurable if possible. ;-)

Have a beautiful day! Bake a cake to share soon, won’t you.

    1 1/2 cups flour
    3/4 cup sugar
    3 tbsp cocoa powder
    2 tsp espresso powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp vinegar
    1/4 cup applesauce
    1 cup water
    Preheat oven to 350°F (I preheated it to 180°C). Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
    In the greased pan*, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. Make 3 depressions into the flour. Place the vinegar into one depression, the vanilla extract in another, and the applesauce in the last. Pour the water over the entire mixture. Using a spatula, mix together the batter until smooth.
    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes**, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and cool completely on a cooling rack.
    [I dusted my cake with icing sugar, and served it with unsweetened yoghurt.]

    * I made the batter in a bowl before pouring it into the cake tin.

    ** Baking time may vary, depending on your oven – my cake was done in 25 minutes.

    *** [Edit] I was concentrating more on dishing up than taking pictures, but here are three photos of tonight’s dinner (thanks Jeremy for the first one!)


Chocolate fudge cake

A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.
~ Roald Dahl

As promised, here is what remains of Ottolenghi’s chocolate fudge cake. The curved strokes you see on its surface were artfully crafted by a budding two year old artist who struck before we could stop him ;-)

Today has been saturated with cake, so much so that I can barely bring myself to type the word without feeling ill. Croquembouche. Banoffie pie. Oreo ice cream cake. Blackforest cake. Chocolate guinness cake. Pecan pie. Etc… (yes this isn’t even the full list).

They were all seriously good (or good-looking, for the ones I just did not have capacity to eat), but I do not, right this second, want cake of any description to come within an inch of me.

I can’t bring myself to taste this cocoa-topped twice baked fudgey cake, but I gather from all comments received tonight that the recipe is a keeper.

    240g unsalted butter, cut into small* cubes
    265g dark chocolate** (52% cocoa solids), cut into small* pieces
    95g dark chocolate** (70% cocoa solids), cut into small* pieces
    290g light muscovado sugar***
    4 tablespoons water
    5 large free range eggs, separated
    a pinch of salt
    cocoa powder for dusting
    Preheat the oven to 170′C. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
    Place the butter and both types of chocolate in a large heatproof bowl – it should be big enough to accomodate the entire mix. Put the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan, stir to mix, then bring to the boil over a medium heat. Pour the boiling syrup over the butter and chocolate and stir well until they have melted and you are left with a runny chocolate sauce*. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Set aside until the mixture comes to room temperature.
    Put the egg whites and salt in a large bowl and whisk to a firm, but not too dry meringue. Using a rubber spatula or a large metal spoon, gently fold the meringue into the cooled chocolate mixture a third at a time. The whites should be fully incorporated but there is no harm if you see small bits of meringue in the mix.
    Pour 800g (about two-thirds) of the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level gently with a palette knife. Leave the rest of the batter for later. Place the cake in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool properly.
    Flatten the top of the cake with a palette knife. Don’t worry about breaking the crust. Pour the rest of the batter on top and level the surface again. Return to the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. The cake should still have moist crumbs when checked with a skewer. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.
    The cake will keep, covered at room temperature for 4 days.

* Seriously, cut the butter and chocolate into small pieces, or the syrup won’t melt them (in which case – suspend the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and stir till it melts. It worked for me in the end).

** I used 250g Whittaker’s 50% chocolate, and approximately 110g 72% cocoa chocolate.

*** I used approximately 1 cup dark muscovado + just under 1/3 cup caster sugar.

Chocolate Cake – take #2

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.
~ W. C. Fields
[strikethrough my own – there are certainly exceptions, but most of the time you’d be a damn fool to quit.]

So. The cake I posted about recently? – yes, the chocolate and herb one – well, perfect icing aside, it was revolting. It made me think of dead grass and stale salt, on which the luxurious quality of chocolate was totally wasted. Please don’t ever make cake with dried herbs. I am all for culinary adventures, but this is one way to make sure you waste food and scare your flatmates.

(We ate almost half of this crazy cake – a real feat. That is all we could manage, and I did not dare let it scare anyone outside my house, so against all my usual anti-food-wastage-ness, I pushed the rest of this inedible cake down the insinkerator today, pausing only to snap this quick memo before this slice met a similar fate as the rest of itself).

The road to cooking and baking well is no dream-laden path; or at the very least, it’s fraught with nightmares too. But I have often been told, and have found, that practice does help. So, with this cake being an utter failure, I decided to try making another cake – without herbs of course!

Chocolate cake is one of those seemingly common desserts, and I was surprised that it took me around half an hour to finally locate a decent recipe for one…

By decent, I mean that it 1. does not require a gazillion different tools and rare/excessive ingredients, and 2. at least sounds like the result will be worth the work.

It was such a bonus to find this recipe from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini which sounded almost too simple to be true – and which I could imagine would yield a good cake to overthrow my current invisible title at home of Chocolate Cake Disaster Extraordinaire.

Here we are – it’s now in the fridge where it will stay for a few hours, and perhaps we shall have some later tonight.

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend, wherever you are!

Chocolate and Herb Infused Imsomnia

Ever close your eyes
Ever stop and listen
Ever feel alive
And you’ve nothing missing
You don’t need a reason
Let the day go on and on
~ Enya, Wild Child lyrics

Dear Imsomnia,
I wish I could wish you away with a snap of my fingers, or drown you in a river of champagne, or set you a-sailing on the back of a yellow rubber ducky.

The minutes tick on, and you grow in my mind – a mountain reaching far beyond the highest storm clouds.

I am going to conquer you. Someday soon.

Even if meanwhile I have to bake a cake on tiptoe while my flatmates frolic in Dreamland.


* Pictured above: chocolate cake with rubbed basil, marjoram, thyme; caster & muscovado sugar. Frosting: a rich dark chocolate buttercream.

Inspirations: here and here (Thank you Camilla and Deb).