Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Alchemist's Chocolate Cake

This is another recipe from Dan Lepard's new book Short and Sweet. I remember making it when it was first published in the Guardian, and not being too impressed with it, but that was back before I needed to reign in my baking extravagances and try to cook with less saturated fat. The book also amends the recipe to use three eggs rather than just one, which would make a richer cake, so I was interested to see if I liked it better this time round.

The cake uses tinned pears and some of the juice as a means of reducing both added sugar and fat. There is only 50mls of oil in the recipe which is a  really low amount - the recipe stipulates walnut oil, but I used hazelnut - I'm sure light olive oil would be OK to use too. The recipe was quick and easy to follow - I  used a stick blender to purée the pears with the chocolate mixture, as I don't have a large processor or blender - but the cake didn't rise as much as I'd expected from the photograph in the book.

I intended to decorate the cake with squiggles of chocolate, as suggested in the book, but my plan to mix white and plain chocolate together to give a two-colour mottled effect bombed when the white chocolate failed to melt properly. I ended up just spreading the chocolate (about 80g in total) over the top of the cake, to try to hide the small white lumps which prevented me piping the squiggles properly.

Cutting the cake revealed quite an uneven texture too - a dense layer at the bottom which might be uncooked batter, several holes and some peculiar pale patches. The flavour of the cake was better than I'd remembered; it was quite dense and moist, and not very sweet, but, on the downside, it wasn't very chocolately in flavour either. I'm sure the faults in the texture are mine -  you just need to check out the photograph of the cake Dan made to see that - but I'm not sure what I could have done differently. I can't imagine that using a stick blender rather than a blender on a processor makes that much difference, and everything else about the recipe was followed to the letter!

It was interesting to make this again, and compare with my memory of making it before, and it's quite a nice plain everyday cake, but I have better recipes for that sort of cake, so can't see this being repeated!

8 comments:

Foodycat said...

I actually would have thought that using a stick blender would give more aeration and help the rise!

Suelle said...

I think it's a fine line between enough aeration and overmixing, Foodycat!

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

I quite literally cannot wait for my copy of the book to arrive!!!!!... this cake looks too good x

Chele said...

Sounds like a very finickity recipe if the results suffer because you used a stick blender. Such a shame too, I actually really like the look of the fudgy texture in it.

Baking Addict said...

I need to get my hands on this book and give this a try then we can compare notes :)

Christy said...

Gosh, I think I am being haunted by chocolate cakes! I have the remains of my wedding cake stowed in my fridge, which by the way is chocolate cake (one of the best in my region), and now as I blog hop, I see chocolate cake everywhere!!:p

C said...

Hmm. I've been meaning to make this cake for ages (since it was first published.....) and have the pears all ready to go. I'm not so sure now but I think I'll try it anyway, and see how it compares to your cake. Always good to get your opinion on a recipe - I know I can trust it!

celia said...

I wish my book would hurry up and arrive! It hasn't even been shipped yet! Nice looking cake Suelle, I'm surprised it's not more chocolatey, because it certainly looks it! Thanks for the headsup on the recipe!