Chocolate Velvet Cake – The Art & Soul of Baking

I am starting to teeter precariously on the precipice of being rotund.  I used to be one of those annoying people that was always shooting my mouth off about how if you exercise and eat moderately healthy you can stay thin.  How I love fat!  I love butter!  I pity the fools who go for low fat options.

It was just a matter of time before the Universe gave me a good back hand across the face.  You think the Universe doesn’t have time for you?  You’re wrong!  How do I know?

Christopher Reeve who played Superman fell off a horse and broke his spine, he was paralysed from the neck down.  The Segway dude plummeted to his death off of a cliff on a…Segway.

The moral of the sentence above?  Don’t waggle your finger at fate and the Universe thinking it can’t hear you, because it can, you just haven’t pissed it off enough yet!

In spite of this, I seem unable to fight the compulsion to bake, bake, bake.  I love to bake, I kind of go into a happy trance.  Even little L seems more placid when I am baking something.  These days I find myself baking with one of two tunes unfurling in my head.

“I like big butts and I cannot lie, you other fellows can’t deny…”  or

“I like ‘em fat, I like ‘em hefty…”  Complete with visual imagery of the cartoon hippo from Madagascar shaking his bootie.

Ach, well.  It’s only 3 kilos right?  I will get a handle on it.  And frankly there are too many incredible recipes out there for me to try to subsist on a diet of cabbage – or whatever the deriguer diet is these days.

I recently bought the American bakery book, The Art and Soul of Baking and I am totally in love with it.  Not only does it have wonderful sounding desserts with enticing pictures but it also has huge appeal for the food nerd in me.  For example, you know how most cook books always go to the trouble of saying “room temperature” eggs, butter, etc?  Maybe you are good and put your butter out in time but most likely you decide you want to make a cake, your eggs are cold, no biggie.  Then your mixture splits.  You curse!  Clearly the baking fairy did not sprinkle “magic baking dust” on you!  More likely explanation.  Your butter was warm, you whisked it up with the sugar until it was fluffy and pale.  Then you dump in an egg that is probably 4°C and those little pieces of butter seized up and made your mix split.  Oooh!  Isn’t it nice to know that you don’t have a baking impediment?  That there are certain things that you should do to avoid failure?  If only there was a book like that about life!

Meanwhile, I know that is a shockingly inept piece of food styling.  But in my defense, the cake was so good we scoffed half of it up before I decided I had to post the recipe.  So enjoy the pretty pink roses (a birthday gift from my hubby) and get baking!

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake – The Art and Soul of Baking

Ingredients (as this is an American cookbook, I have left measurements in cups with the exception of the butter):
1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia d’Oro
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Ganache
80ml of double cream
80g of chocolate (50% is good)

Equipment
8 ½ by 4 ½-inch Loaf Pan, Parchment Paper, Stand Mixer Fitted with a Paddle Attachment or a Hand Mixer and a Medium Bowl, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Small Bowl, Fine-Mesh Strainer, Medium Bowl, Whisk, Cooling Rack

1 Preheat the oven to 175°C and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the pan with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray, and fit it with parchment paper to extend up both long sides to the top of the pan.
2 Cream the butter and sugar: Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light—almost white—in color, 4 to 5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the bowl with the spatula.
3 Add the eggs: In the small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth. Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat to blend. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next. About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then continue adding the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again.
4 Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately: With the fine-mesh strainer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand, if necessary.
5 Bake the cake: Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.
6. For ganache, bring the cream to the boil, pour over the chocolate. Stir and spoon onto the cooled cake.

Note from Foodie in Berlin – DO NOT OVER BAKE THIS CAKE, IT WILL BE DRY AND AWFUL!

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5 Responses to Chocolate Velvet Cake – The Art & Soul of Baking

  1. Sasa says:

    It’s coming into winter, it’d be RUDE not to put on alil weight!

  2. Sasa says:

    Oop, I meant “a lil”

  3. Sometimes imagination is more effective than a photo. So I will imagine how tempting and chocolate-y this cake looked, so tempting that you ate it before you took a photo. I have done the same thing more times than I can count… :) And will no doubt do it again. Meanwhile, in my imagination, your cake looks wonderful!

    Kathleen

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