Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Cakes - Day One

Welcome back to our redecorated blog! This month is certainly a time of beginnings and endings for me. However, a lot of the beginnings and ends are meeting nicely in the middle - for example, I recently finished work at my old job. To celebrate, I made book cakes, which are truly awesome B-) And because of that ending, I now have something very shiny to share in this re-beginning of the blog! :D Things balance out in the end. Or the beginning. Whichever. O:)

Anyway, book cakes. I haven't baked in a long while, and I was getting antsy to try something fancy again, and I thought that my last day at work would be the final excuse. I pondered for a while what I should make - clearly a cake, but how, and in what form? And then I came up with the perfect idea: Book cakes! I worked at a library storehouse, you see, so this was the natural choice.

I googled pictures of book cakes, found two that inspired my idea, and armed with my trusty Planet Cake cookbook that I got recently for my birthday, I set off on my cake-making adventure, chronicalled below.

Be warned. This is a loooooooong post. In fact, I might post it in several installments, for the sake of all of our brains :D It took me several days to do, given things need resting overnight, etc, so I'll break it up by days. Today, the recipe.

The Recipe

Step one: Shop for ingredients. Make sure you have consulted the recipe BEFORE you do this, lest you seriously underestimate the amount of chocolate you need and have to visit the supermarket TWICE in one evening before making the cake.

Step two: Make the ganache. Glory in its beauty. Keel over from the sheer insane richness of the smell. Put it in the back of the fridge to set overnight and vow never to eat chocolate again because it is so RICH.

Step three: Make cake. Get cake out of oven late at night (because you had to visit the shops twice, so were late starting the cooking) and cry because it burnt. Give up and go to bed, promising to make it all better in the morning.

Chocolate Ganache*
1.2kg (2lb 10oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped (53-63% cocoa)
600mL pure cream (not thickened; make sure what you're buying has no gelatin in it)

Chop the chocolate. Please, for all our sakes, use something automatic. It took me 40 minutes to finely chop 6 blocks of premium cooking chocolate; I blistered the knuckle of the finger holding the knife from bashing it against the chopping board a thousand times too often, and the first two fingers of my left hand were bruised for the next three days from pushing down in the back of the knife blade.

Bring the cream to boiling point over the stove (don't let it actually boil). Pour it over the chocolate and mix with a balloon whisk until smooth. DON'T use electric, this time, because an electric whisk will incorporate too much air. We want thick and creamy, not fluffy.

Allow to cool completely and leave to set overnight.

* Pfah. DO NOT TRUST RECIPES. They are tricksy beasts. I looked at this and went - wow, 1.2 KILOS of chocolate? That seems like rather a lot. But the book specifically said that it was enough to cover one of their cakes plus a little left over in case of mistakes.

I don't know about you, but I don't think HALF of the ganache is a little. That forty minutes of chopping and bruised fingering? It only needed to be twenty minutes!!!

Chocolate Mud Cake
220g butter
220g dark chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate drops so I didn't need to chop)
25g coffee granules (I skipped this; not a fan of coffee)
125g Self Raising Flour
125g plain (all purpose) flour
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tspn bicarb soda
480g caster (superfine) sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
7 tspn vegetable oil (I used canola)
100mL buttermilk (I used plain ordinary milk)

Preheat oven to 160C/315F. Grease 22cm/9in round or 20cm/8in square cake tin. Line the base and sides with a collar that extends 2cm (3/4in) above the top of the tin. (Ha, totally forgot to line the base, but it was all fine). Melt butter, chocolate, coffee and 160mL of water in a saucepan over a low heat.

Sift together the flours, cocoa and bicarb. Stir in sugar and make a well in the centre. Add the combined egg, oil and buttermilk and the chocolate mix. Stir with a large spoon until completely combined. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hr 40 mins** or until skewer comes out clean (though might be still sticky) and leave cake in pan until cold.

** About the baking time. Recall, at this point, that I'd spent an hour making the ganache and had the bruised and blistered fingers to prove it. Recall also that given I'd been at work all day, the cake was set to finish baking at about 11pm. Now come with me to the moment where I went to check the cake, after an hour and a half, just to be safe - and it was charcoal black and smelled ruined. I cried. Gar-stabbity! So. Make sure you know your oven, and check the cake regularly in the last half hour.

And that, dear readers, is day one. Tune in (AT SOME TIME) for the next installment!

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