Friday, 17 February 2012

Schokoladenkuchen a la Vera Slawinski

The Saucemaker presented me with the famous design-award-winning Konstantin Slawinski silicon cake form, which I have mentioned before, a year ago. It came with a card bearing Slawinski’s mother’s flourless chocolate cake recipe, which is magnificent, rich and darkly, Mittel-Europeanly adult, all eggs and chocolate.

The recipe is given in German with a shaky English translation underneath in paler font. I’ve never learnt German but have always wanted to and love the look and sound of it – mile-long capitalised nouns! umlauts! Die Zauberflöte! – so find it much more fun to follow. ‘Dark chocolate’, which could mean anything from Nestle Buttons down, becomes the much more specific and fabulous-sounding Zartbitter-Schokolade – who could resist getting out the 70% Callebaut Strong for that? So I’ll go with German as far as possible, if that’s okay with everyone. I would never make it too hard to follow, would I, meine Kinder?  

250g Butter
250g Zartbitter-Schokolade
200g geriebene Mandeln (okay, that’s almond meal)
8 Eier
200g Zucker
2 tablespoons cornflour
pinch salt and splash vanilla extract

Preheat oven auf 180C.

Separate Eier, beat Eigelb und Zucker until weiss und fluffy. Add die Mandeln. Soften Butter in microwave along with melting Schokolade in 10-second bursts, und add to mixture along with some vanilla extract und a pinch of salt. Sift over cornflour.

Get out die second KitchenAid bowl, beat Eiweiß until stiff und gently fold into Schokolade mixture. Pour into Konstantin Slawinski form (or a round cake tin of no less than 24cm) und backen 40 Minuten. Test with a bamboo skewer – when it withdraws clean, der Kuchen durchgebacken. Remove from form and sift over Puderzucker. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Black sesame yoghurt cake

Here is where I get a bit never-apologise-never-explain about why it’s been so long and instead jump straight to cake.

So, I amassed a range of black sesame ingredients last year, which, being sesame, won’t last forever before succumbing to the scourge that is rancidness, which successive governments have failed to eradicate. A fridge-clearing agenda led me to google black sesame cakes NOT chiffon cake (been there, done that), and among the slim pickings was this promising recipe from Haw Berries & Kumquats featuring a very beautiful eggshell lacquer bowl.

The packaging of the black sesame powdery stuff provided no clues that I could translate, but it tasted as though heavily cut with white sugar, so I lessened the original sugar amount by a third and made it brown sugar for a dark note. I threw in extra black sesame paste in case the sesame quotient was already lacking due to its unknown sugar component, really drove the point home with a tablespoon of virgin sesame oil, and sprinkled over extra whole sesame seeds for good measure. So the last few of the above may be considered optional. Hell, the whole thing’s optional – do it, don’t do it, make it all eggwhites, who am I to say?

Adapted from HawBerries & Kumquats, who adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini’s gâteau au yaourt

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup black sesame powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
250ml yoghurt
60 ml peanut oil
20 ml untoasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons black sesame paste
black sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 180° C, and line a 22-cm springform tin. Sift together the flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

Beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the yoghurt, oils, brandy, vanilla extract and sesame paste. Mix well.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into wet ingredients; mix until just combined.

Pour into prepared cake pan, sprinkle with black sesame seeds, and bake for 45 minutes, until a skewer withdraws clean.

It was very moist and tender, with a tanginess to it from the yoghurt. I wasn’t overwhelmed by a sesame flavour, and nor was anyone else; people were making all sorts of guesses at it. The two tablespoons of cocoa emerged the most strongly, surprisingly enough. In a less charitable moment, I decided it just tasted like a slightly weird, second-rate chocolate cake, but recanted this as being a bit harsh when I found myself quite enjoying another slice at afternoon-tea time. The texture was fabulous, though, and I’ll be investigating the other flavour variations  that have been imposed on this basic yoghurt cake.