“Cake. I like it on my tongue, the word – not just the stuff itself – but even better in my throat, my stomach. Cake. It can only mean something good.”
Oh, Molly Wizenberg. You know my heart. Cake is very, very special to me. It marks the beginning of something significant – like a backdrop image to a scene – strong, supportive and the main frame would be incomplete without it. Every time I failed at a split custard or sub-standard meringue, cake had my back. Instantly, the idea of using my wooden spoon and whisk to create something warm, inviting and fail-proof made me feel safe. I couldn’t keep it all to myself so I used to send out samplers to neighbors and friends and family and somewhere along the way, the bakery was born.
This cake is simple – one bowl, no nonsense and every bit as good to eat as it is to make. My special trick to dress it up is to spread a little bit of ganache (warmed to touch) on the warm cake so it seeps it in. Then, I simply grate some chocolate over it and let it sit on the table till some vultures (read: family) descend and eat it all, even the crumbs. It is open to change – you can add liquor right into the cake, or infuse the ganache with it. I’m aching to try an orange infused version because the combination of chocolate and orange is always amazing. More so, you don’t need to restrict yourself to grated chocolate for adornment – M&Ms, sprinkles or even some crushed hazelnuts, macadamia nuts or almond flakes will do just as well. Like I said, it’s open to palate preference. The added bonus is that it is egg-free, which means everyone is happy. Sometime ago, I was having a conversation with someone, obviously centered around cake and I remember saying that there aren’t too many ‘plain jane’ cakes, you know? Beautifully simple, unadorned but gorgeous, all the same. This, people, is the chocolate version. I have an equally enticing custard-y version here.
Simple Chocolate Cake
Serves: 4 – 6
Source: Joy of Baking
1 1/2 cups (180 g) flour
1 cup (200 g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (25 g) cocoa powder (unsweetened, not dutch-process)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup (75 g) butter, melted
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the ganache:
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh cream (I used Amul)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (use the best chocolate you can)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C. Line a cookie tray with a silicon mat and line your cake tin with some parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, add flour and caster sugar. Sift the cocoa powder on top and add baking powder and soda. Whisk well to combine and add remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour into cake tin.
3. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Set aside to cool.
4. Immediately, start on the ganache – in a small saucepan, add cream and heat on medium-high heat till it comes to a boil. If you’re using a slab of chocolate, grate or chop it finely, if not turn off the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for a few seconds and whisk to combine. There should be no lumps. Finally, pour over the now warm cake and let it sit in the refrigerator till the ganache cools (about an hour or so). This cake lasts well in the fridge – and because of the humid climate, I can’t just leave it out – but I always alternate between refrigeration and removing it well before serving it so it’s just cold enough but not too firm.