It’s not unreasonable to expect a cake that looks delicious to actually taste delicious, is it? The other day I had some cake that looked positively amazing and promised me all kinds of happiness in my mouth, but it was ….meh. I ate the whole slice even though it was strangely textured and tasteless, and with each bite I’d look at it with growing disdain and annoyance, like it was Kanye West. It was the Kanye West of cake.
Speaking of Kanye, my charming friend Nicholas and I once had brunch at a table next to him at Bills in Woollahra, with his black hoodie pulled over his head and most of his face in an attempt to stay unnoticed. Kanye that is, not Nic, although it probably wouldn’t hurt Nic to go incognito once in a while. Nic knows everyone in Sydney’s hospitality industry which means chefs, waiters and foodie people alike are delighted to see him in their establishment as though the Queen had a hankering for some scrambled eggs or late night dumplings. Anyway, if you’re familiar with the yah-yah-old-money suburb of Woollaaaahra, Kanye needn’t have worried about being recognised there because I’m fairly certain that very few of those posh old ladies have N*ggas in Paris on their playlist. How the hell did I even get on to this topic?
NOW I KNOW I said my favourite cake was the chocolate raspberry number from last week, but maybe I was being hasty in my decision because this could also be my favourite – don’t judge me for having more than one favourite, ok? Unlike the last cake, this one has no tricky embellishments except for a liberal dusting of cocoa. Admittedly there is a lot of chocolate in this cake and if you use only the strong stuff (70% cocoa as I have here), it will have the bonus effect of keeping you wide awake for ages. Also useful for giving you a kickstart in the morning or feeding to the small children of really annoying people.
And it’s flourless so great for all of you doing the gluten-free thing. Why does cake without flour sound more deliciously indulgent than cake with flour? In that case should we just not bother with flour in cakes full stop and reserve all the flour on earth for bread, pastries and pasta only?
You secretly bake this cake in two stages with the same batter so that the bottom layer is denser than the top layer which is more mousse-like. At the time of eating no one will notice the distinction between the layers but they’ll subconsciously think about the subtleties later on when they’re in bed and having trouble getting to sleep and still thinking about how the hell you managed to make a cake that looks so substantially rich but is so incredibly light at the same time? How. HOW?
If only to baffle them, please make this cake.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE
from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
240g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
265g dark chocolate (52% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
95g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
290g light muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
4 tablespoons water
5 large free-range eggs, separated
a pinch of salt
cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat the oven to 170C. 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 very large heatproof bowl. 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.