We lit a candle for Kent this morning, exactly one year after he died and the light went out of my life. I did a few things for him today, most of it involving crying, but purposely had very little planned and once again felt drawn to my kitchen. I think he'd really like that I baked a huge, outrageous cake (intermittently padding up the hallway to open the door to bunches of flowers, you lovely lot) and that I even put it on my new cake stand.
I baked Annabel Langbein's chocolate cake which has been put up for contention as the best chocolate cake recipe around. I have eaten it a couple of times in the past, not knowing it was hers, and have been wanting for a while to make it myself and cast my vote.
The results are... awkward. I baked the cake in two tins rather than one large one, so had to guess at the cooking time, and I believe I got it just right. My knife came out pretty clean, but not quite. Always keen to not overcook (a dry cake is a waste of everybody's time), I definitely didn't want to cook it any longer. But I don't think it would have wanted any less, given the remnants on the knife. Interestingly, I found the outside edge of the cake, perhaps until about 1/3 of the way in, disappointingly dry. But the further in I went, the better it got, and the middle third was gorgeous. Moist, fudgy, and all I could ever ask for. So is it better than Dana's Chocolate Cake? Well, the outside: no way. The inside: yes! Do we have a winner (so far) in the Chocolate Cake Best Recipe competition? Uummm... I don't know. If I could sort out that dry outer edge, I think this would be it. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Annabel recommends you cook this massive cake in a large 30cm tin, or two 20cm ones. I cooked mine in two 23cm ones, and it wasn't a problem. Her instructions say to just biff all the ingredients in to the mixer and turn it on. But she lists many dry ingredients first, and I just couldn't see how I could mix soft butter in to a bowlful of flour and sugar. While I would never question her brilliance on these matters, I started with the soft butter and eggs, as per usual, and so have listed the ingredients in my own order.
When cooling the cakes on racks after cooking, I recommend you put them up the right way, as one of mine collapsed a bit because it was upside down. (Ha! Or read Annabel's instructions properly and let them cool in the tin. I see now.) When it comes to all the additions, inside and out, I just suggest you do whatever you like. Jam, buttercream, chocolate ganache, whipped cream, icing sugar, fruit...
As always, I used glucose instead of sugar.
Annabel Langbein's Ultimate Chocolate Cake
200g butter, softened
2 cups sugar (or glucose)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
3 cups self raising flour (or standard flour + 3 teaspoons baking powder)
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup milk or unsweetened yoghurt
1 cup boiling hot coffee
Put all ingredients in to a bowl or food processor, mixing as you go until combined.
Pour in to greased, paper lined tins, and bake at 160 degrees. 30 minutes for 23cm tins. 1 hour for a 30cm tin (or check earlier).
Today was more about the eating and the thinking than the photos. If I remember to photograph before eating tomorrow, I''ll put some more up.