Now that I am beginning to find some semblance of order amongst the kitchen chaos in my new home, I felt it was time to check out the local library – or, more specifically, their food and drink section. Anything that might help to reign in my (possibly slightly out of hand) spending habit where cookbooks are concerned can only be a good thing.
One of the books that caught my eye was Jill Dupleix’s Favourite Food, and as soon as I picked it up I came across at least two recipes that I definitely had to try. This cake was one of them. Further investigation online revealed it to be a perennial favourite; having made it, I can see why.
I loved Jill’s introductions to the various chapters, and for someone trying to streamline their copious amounts of kitchen ‘stuff’, as I am, the following really struck a chord:
Now is a good time to spring-clean our recipes, our tools and our kitchen ways;
a time to sort out what is worth taking with us into the future, and what can well be left behind.
Let us work out what we value, and dispense with the rest of the baggage.
Amen to that.
Anyway, back to the food. I had recently promised a friend that I would bake him a chocolate and almond cake after he saw it on the menu at a restaurant, and this recipe also provided a nice opportunity to try out a new piece of kitchen equipment. Win-win. It’s called Chocolate Espresso Cake in Jill’s book, but I have used the title of the original recipe on which it is based, which can be found in Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking.
Chocolate and Almond Cake, taken from Jill Dupleix’s Favourite Food
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 tablespoon strong black coffee (Jill specifies espresso, use this if you have it)
1 tablespoon rum or brandy
150g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
icing sugar for dusting
Heat oven to 180ºC. Butter and flour a 20cm diameter cake tin, ideally springform so that the cooked cake is easier to remove.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it, along with the coffee, rum or brandy, sugar and butter, in a bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir until well mixed.
Add the ground almonds and mix well. Separate the eggs and beat in the yolks one at a time. Beat the whites in another bowl until they form stiff peaks. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. The longer you cook it for, the less fudgy and more cakey it becomes.
Leave the cake to cool – don’t be alarmed if it collapses a little, this is normal – before removing it from the tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Perfect as a dessert or a teatime treat, or even for breakfast (the things I do in the name of recipe testing…), and it will keep well for several days if stored in a (locked, out-of-sight) tin. Serve with cream, ice cream, crème fraîche, summer berries, poached pears, a steaming cup of black coffee – although perhaps not all at once.
To quote Jill again:
Above all, we want food that makes people fall in love with us.
That’s what cooking is all about, as it always has been.