Dorie Greenspan relates in Baking how she quickly grew bored in her first job with making the same whisky-raisin cake every day, and tried out an Armagnac and prune version, which got her sacked. She offers this as the main recipe, but also gives the original, and as I am never without scotch in the house, but frequently without Armagnac, the original Simone Beck scotch-and-raisin it was.
The occasion was The Guitar Teacher’s birthday. He very often watches poker-faced as rich chocolate cakes go intact out the door and and off to my work, so I thought it only fair to throw nearly 300 grams of chocolate at him for once. And we needed the alcohol to settle our nerves, frayed as they are by sharing a house with a needy Siamese creeping miserably around in an Elizabethan collar.*
Mostly metricised version of Dorie Greenspan's Baking, pp279–81
¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup whisky combined in a jar to steep for at least 3 hours or up to a day in advance
80g pecans or walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
40g plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
200g bittersweet chocolate callets, or chopped
120g unsalted butter
3 eggs, separated
Line and grease a 20cm springform tin. Preheat oven to 190C. Whisk together the ground nuts, flour and salt.
Melt chocolate, butter and 3 tablespoons water in the microwave and allow to cool while getting on with the rest.
Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale; add with a spatula the melted chocolate, flours and raisons along with their whisky. Set aside and whisk the whites until stiff, folding into the chocolate batter until just incorporated and pouring into the tin. Bake for about half an hour or until a knife withdraws fairly cleanly – not too wet, not too dry is the key here.
85g bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons icing sugar (sift it – I wish I had)
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
Melt in microwave (or bain marie) and stir in the sugar then butter to form a smooth glaze. Either pour the warm glaze over the top and sides of the cooled cake, or refrigerate just to slightly set for a thicker and more controllable consistency.
*In a nutshell: a cup of freshly poured tea steeping on the bench plus a bad cat who knows better jumping up to unwittingly encounter it plus three weeks, three vet visits and three courses of antibiotics later said cat preferring to scour the fearful furless burn wound with her tongue all day long instead of letting it heal.