February 04, 2008

I Want It Gooey!

I was a bit occupied on the weekend when the Monarch butterflies started to hatch out of their chrysalis and kids have cried out to remind me to take pictures for them while I was wanting to try out Denise's Coconut and Lime Cupcakes which couldn't happen. We'd chosen to spend more time in the garden, watching 7 black pupa out of 92 caterpillars 'registered' (today, it is 5 more fresh-wings-butterflies!) transforming into beautiful butterflies. How could you not, while this moment is only to be happening once a year, a rare occasion indeed, if you're lucky to have them in your garden. Fortunately, it is our second year to have them in our garden, but the first year for the children to be aware of their presence with their observant minds. They're very excited to wait the black pupa to hatch. I am sure they won't forget this precious moment.

After all those pretty moments, I decided to come down to the creek down the valley. It is just beautiful as I can imagine. It's like an oasis in a dry-dry-land. So dry as far as you can see everything is brown. And this little creek gives the freshness, the green lane in the middle of wilted grounds. So lovely. Reminds me of the forest I used to play in when I was a kid, searching for twigs or watching monkeys swinging from one tree to the others, fishing in a small river sheltered by huge trees. So lovely.

However, I meant to bake something I love today, precisely on the list from weeks and weeks ago, and I want something gooey, something chocolatey, something pleasant. The thing that I've missed and craved for. Nigel Slater has the answer for me. Frankly saying, this is my second try-out of this gooey almond cake. Last week, I failed it. I think I made a mistake on the whisking the egg whites with my own balloon whisk, giving me cramps on my shoulders and I had to stop a few minutes at a time, just to rest my shoulders. One of these days, you see, you just want to go back to the old days when there were no sophisticated mixers with multi-task attachments, just to feel the feeling how hard it must be. But, I admit, I must have been spoilt by the modernity, the easy-to-get-and-operate tools and didn't give too much credit to myself doing the most labour work those ancient days that I could have done. Anyway, I suppose that I should just leave it well enough alone.

chocolate almond cake

Now, about the cake, I think I also over-baked it which then gave a dry result, I confess I really hated it. I don't like the taste of dry cake, it is just like eating a sandpaper. I'd rather to have them soaked in orange juice and hide them in the bottom of a trifle, or else, give them to the birds. So, I am very happy with the latest result which appeared as gooey as I expected and superb taste as I loved. My mood is back! YAY!!

My suggestion: make it when you crave for it rather than make it when you have to do it for other reasons (well, except you're making money out of it).


Chocolate Almond Cake

Source: Nigel Slater. The Kitchen Diaries. p. 99-100.

Enough for 10.

200g fine dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids—I use my favorite Whittaker's Dark Ghana 72%, a local production and it is pleasantly dark),
a small, hot espresso,
200g butter,
80g plain flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
2 level Tbs very good quality cocoa powder,
125g almonds,
5 eggs,
200g golden unrefined caster sugar

Prepare 23-24cm cake tin, 5cm deep, buttered and lined. Preheat the oven, 180C. Break the chocolate and put them in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (on a low heat, of course). When the chocolate starts to melt, pour in the hot espresso (I used about 70ml), then add in the butter. Don't stir. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together. Set aside. Process the almonds (not blanched) in the food processor until resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Separate the eggs. Put the white eggs in a mixer bowl (and put the yolks in another bowl), whisk until stiff and thick, fold in the sugar gently (this is the tricky part; watch out not to mix brutally, you will kill the air bubbles). Nigel suggests to use a large metal spoon and you know, that splendidly works! Now, remove the chocolate from the heat and stir the last butter which hasn't melted yet. Add in the mixed egg yolks and stir into the chocolate mixture until just combined and this will make the mixture thickened. Nigel asks us to fold in the egg whites and sugar, followed by mixed flour and then almond powder, but I did it on the other around as I do believe it's much safer to retain the bubbles in the egg whites to their best after flour and almond powder are mixed and combined. However, you do your technique that works best for you.

Bake for 25 minutes which only was done for 19 minutes in my oven. Just test with the skewer, it must be no batter should be clinging to it. Leave to cool. I just love to eat it warm.


Chris said...

I am sorry you didn't enjoy the cake. It doesn't look dry!
Your pictures are stunning. I have to show our science teachers. Nature is such a wonder. And, look at the beauty doing all that learning...:) Picturesque for sure.

Arfi Binsted said...

this cake is the second try and yes it turned out just exactly what i wanted to hehehe... first try was dry.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Your pictures are fabulous, Arfi. How did you get them so perfectly? And as for the cake, oooh, sublime.

Deborah said...

I have never seen a butterfly hatch - what an amazing experience it must be!!

Arfi Binsted said...

Susan: now now now... please, they are not perfect hehehe... but thanks anyway, that really is kind of you to give me such compliment.

Deborah: it is amazing this to observe!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Sorry about the first cake, but glad the second one came out well. It sure looks good and those some great shots of the butterflies!

katiez said...

Well I started out admiring all the lovely chocolate lace.... I am SO impressed that you did that!
Then when I scrolled down to make a comment I saw the monarchs - amazing photos.... So I kept on scrolling and saw the chocolate cake... Now I'm amazed and hungry.
Fantastic cake.... (Paused to collect recipe).
And there's zucchini....

Arfi Binsted said...

Mike: I do love the second try! Thanks for dropping by, Mike!

Katie: Ah, ya hehehe... I was a bit crazy at that time, willing to discover the real pleasure of creating something delicate like Nicholas Lodge has done. I adore him! As for the almond cake, you surely don't want to miss it, Katie, it surely is delicious when it is gooey. Can taste the chocolate intensely in the mixture!

Riana said...

I drooled over both!
Oh, torture...

Arfi Binsted said...

:P hihihi...!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

You are living in heaven on earth & you certainly make the most of it. THANKS a million for sharing such precious pictures...took my breadth away! Gotta show my kids...