I know I’ve been away for a while, but I’ve been doing productive things such as, moving to Berlin. I still don’t have a camera but my roomie does, and so now we have a convenient arrangement. It goes something like this:
‘Can I borrow your camera?’
‘Only if I can eat what you want to take pictures of.’
‘Ok, but you have to wait till I’ve taken the pictures first’
‘What if I can’t wait?’
‘Then there’s no point in me borrowing the camera if you’re going to eat it before I’ve taken a picture, people don’t want to see pictures of a clean plate’
‘Do I still get to eat what you want to take pictures of?’
‘Yes, but I’ve cooked it so I can take pictures’
‘Isn’t the point to eat it?’
And so on and so forth. It’s a tad circular but at least it means I can take photos. Thanks roomie. Now, on to the cake! I’ve adapted the recipe from Linda Collister’s book, Chocolate.
So, you think it can’t get naughtier than butter, chocolate, cream, sugar? Woah, ok, it’s not time to crack out the hashish recipe just yet. My secret ingredient is dark ale. Dark because the malted barley has been roasted until it’s the colour of chocolate and tastes distinctly chocolaty too. Think Maltesers. Now think about how much you love Maltesers. Now go and buy two packets of Maltesers, eat one and bring the other to me. If enough people do this, I can bury myself in Maltesers. A tasty ball pond indeed.
I’m not gwana lie to you, this cake is a faff but my-oh-my is it worth it. Let’s take it step by step. A little bit like the ‘Time Warp’ dance routine, but with fewer fishnets.
250g plain (preferably 70% cocoa solids) chocolate
150g good milk chocolate
350ml sour cream
175g muscavado sugar (I used a mixture of dark and light)
300g plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (as with the chocolate, using a good one really does make a difference)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Splosh of Vanilla extract (I prefer this to essence)
175ml dark ale
One last thing before I proceed to the methodology (bah, I sound like a scientist) I’d like to give a big belated thanks to Roly at The Brentwood Brewing Co. for donating a variety of his ales for me to play with. For this recipe, I used ‘Chockwork Orange’, which is brewed with oranges, wowee! These guys are great; they do such a wide range. On Pancake Day we did some beery/cheesy pancakes using one of their lighter ales, ‘Brentwood Gold’. To find out more go to www.brentwoodbrewing.co.uk and if you ask nicely, Roly will give you a tour of the brewery. Only if you ask nicely, mind.
Ok, here’s what to do:
- Melt on VERY low heat 110g plain chocolate, 125ml sour cream and the muscavado sugar. Blend it don’t burn it, yeah?
- While this is happening, grease and line two large sandwich cake tins.
- Sift flour, cocoa, pinch of salt and the bicarb together
- Be patient with the next bit. In a massive bowl, cream yo’ butter, then cream in the caster sugar gradually and then cream in one egg yolk at a time and finally cream in the vanilla. You really want to get as much air in here as possible; otherwise you’ll end up with a chocolate doorstop. Doorstops are ok with a ploughman’s but not at teatime, in my books anyhow.
- Then mix in the flour mixture and ale, alternately, to avoid too much similarity between your cooking and the aftermath of a volcanic explosion. Although, if you’re me, which you’re not, but hey ho, then the kitchen will undoubtedly end up looking like this anyway.
- Work in the chocolate mixture; blend thoroughly but quite quickly to try to lose as little air as possible.
- Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks (like I said about meringues, until they look like hair mousse) and fold them into your monster mix.
- Spoon into cake tins, bake for 25-30 mins at 180°C. When done, it should spring back when lightly pressed, and be slightly coming away from the sides of the tin. Go against your instinct, if it still looks a little wobbly, that’s fine. Trust.
- This cake is a little bit like brownie so will still be a bit squidgy when it’s just come out of the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Whilst your cake is cooling, make the icing, which is super easy. Melt the rest of the plain chocolate (if you haven’t eaten that as well as your own fingers in anticipation) and the milk chocolate until smooth.
- Whisk in the sour cream and chill until spreadable.
- When you’re positive that the cakes are completely cooled, generously smother the cake in chocolate gooeyness until you feel a bit like Bruce Bogtrotter from Roald Dahl’s Mathilda.
- After all that, you’ll be ready to sink into big chunk of drool-inducing goodness.
From what I’ve learnt about cake since being in Germany, I have to take back my earlier doorstop comment. It seems that it’s perfectly acceptable to have cake resembling doorstops here. The advantage being that this observation is in relation to size rather than texture. This recipe really must be taken as some kind of homage to the imperative tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake). A tradition which is so ingrained in German culture that our university cafeteria presents us with a different tray bake everyday. Such aforementioned doorstop-sized pieces of cake, so light and moist, require all my will power not to feast on cake and cake alone.
If you have any opinions on cake, please let me know. Next time, I promise I’ll do something more student friendly. My kitchen here has no oven or freezer so you can be assured there will be no fancy equipment required!