A Recipe For Chocolate Cake
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Gwyneth Paltrow has a website where she puts recipes.
But they’re quite good recipes. I could probably have fumbled through without her recipe for a tuna sandwich, but lots of them look lovely. I like her approach to food. The tabloids constantly take the mickey out of her faddish microbiotic madness - and really ripped her apart when she printed a recipe for roast chicken when she’s “supposed to be a vegan” - but as her website quite clearly states
“I am no longer so restrictive with my diet, far from it. But some of the tenets of macrobiotics have stayed with me and they always will. I try to eat locally, seasonally and always organically. I don’t eat processed foods or red meat and I try to stay away from sugar and dairy but I have a major cheese weakness and, well, you only live once.”
That seems very reasonable to me. I know people think organic meat is a luxury for toffs; even Delia Smith seems to believe it’s a load of pretentious waffle when most of us simply NEED to scoff battery chickens as a money-saving measure. But I think that’s stupid. There have been periods of history where meat was an expensive luxury so people ate it rarely; nothing wrong with that. Much better to have good meat once a week than a daily munch on the mouldering minced carcass of a glum chemical-fed beast that lived and died in a tin box, and tastes like it.
Anyway, anything Gwyneth Paltrow can do, I can do. Except play a thin elegant WASP in a massive Hollywood blockbuster. But I can do recipes. Indeed, I have a trophy on my mantelpiece for Best Cake at the Clacton Arts Festival 2005. I know I mention that a lot. But I’m very proud of it. It nestles between two poker trophies and is just as treasured.
So, since it’s my BIRTHDAY TODAY, I thought I would put up a cake recipe. It’s not ideal for anyone who tries, like Gwyneth, to “stay away from sugar”. But, on the plus side, it doesn’t have any cheap meat in it. So, here’s the recipe.VICTORIA’S GRANDMA’S CHOCOLATE CAKE, IN JEALOUS TRIBUTE TO GWYNETH PALTROW, NOT THE PRIZE-WINNING CLACTON CAKE (WHICH WAS A FRUIT SPONGE) BUT STILL DELICIOUS, ALTHOUGH SHOULD BE AVOIDED BY ANYONE WITH A NUT ALLERGY AS IT COULD PROVE FATAL, BUT IF ANYONE WITH A NUT ALLERGY COULDN’T WORK THAT OUT FROM READING THE RECIPE THEN THEY’D HAVE TROUBLE SURVIVING DAILY LIFE ANYWAY.
Heat the oven to about 350 F or 175 C.
Mix 140g of caster sugar with 140g of soft butter. Not melted soft, not runny, but nice soft room temperature butter. Mix them together til they’re properly blended and soft and, you know, mixed.
Then separate four eggs - put the whites aside and add the yolks to the mixture along with 140g of soft chocolate. Use decent chocolate, for God’s sake. Proper dark cooking chocolate with a nice high cocoa mix. When I say “soft” I do mean melted this time, but not too runny - just melted down to a nice soft gloopy mixture in a double boiler or a bowl over a saucepan. Double boiler’s safer. I don’t want anyone to cause an explosion in their kitchen and die as the result of trying to make a chocolate cake. That would be tragic.
Then stir in a tablespoon of self-raising flour and 140g of ground nuts. That’s where it all goes wrong for those with a nut allergy. But it does need the nuts. You could use chopped hazelnuts if you really wanted, but the consistency’s better if you use ground nuts - ground hazelnuts ideal, mmm.
Now beat the eggwhites, the four eggwhites you set aside before, beat them all good and peaky, and fold them in to the mixture - FOLD, FOLD, CUT AND FOLD, don’t get impatient and stir them in, FOLD them in, use a metal spoon, don’t crush all the air out of them in the mixing.
Line a cake tin with greaseproof paper. If you don’t have a train to catch, grease the tin first. If you’re really keen, grease the paper as well. It all makes life easier at cake-removal time.
When the tin is lined (and ideally also greased), fold in the mixture, put it in the oven and fork-test it after about 40 minutes. If the cake looks lovely and risen, and the fork doesn’t have liquid on it, take the cake out of the oven. If the fork’s still liquidy, give it a bit longer but keep a close eye. When it’s done, give it a few minutes in its tin (but out of the oven) then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool.
Once it’s cooled… well, my grandma used to drizzle rum on it. A couple of tablespoons would do. She’d use a bucket. But a couple of tablespoons will do fine. Having said that, if you’re an alcoholic, you can leave off this poisoned garnish because it still tastes very nice without.
And the finished cake goes very well with cream. If you like cream. I, personally, don’t. I think it’s revolting. I think it COMPLETELY RUINS THE CAKE. You might just as well cover it in toothpaste as far as I’m concerned. Or mud. Wormy mud. But for those who like cream, I believe it goes well.