Brilliant Baking: My dark chocolate and cherry cake.colate
Dark and rich, creamy and moist. My chocolate and cherry cake has it all. Mixed up in about 10 minutes, done in under an hour – this cake is the perfect lazy Sunday treat. All you need to do is to say yes. Yes to chocolate. Yes to butter. Yes to cherries. And, “yes, baking is pretty easy”. Because it is. What’s not as easy is taking pictures of brown and white things.
I’ve been at odds with baking for a pretty long time. I tend to think that I’m bad at it, that it is unexciting or difficult. The truth is: none of this is true. Baking is easy, and while I’m certainly no pastry chef, I can knock out a cake or two in under an hour. And so can you. What I did realize, however, is that my plating skills have become quite rusty. Lord knows how this picture turned out as decent as it did. Let me let you in on a little secret. The cake on the picture is not the cake in the recipe – not because it looks better (or different, for that matter). But because I horrible butchered the actual photo-cake – I foolishly cut it into odd looking pieces that didn’t photograph well. Or at all. So, as a last resort, I cut up the test-cake and plated it up. It still looked horrible. Brown things don’t really look good on pictures. As I had planned, I whipped up some cream and dumped a thick ball on the cake, for the sake of contrast. What had looked nice in my mind looked like not much at all on the picture. Just a big brown mess, that crashed into a big white mess (the problem generally is that neither the cake, nor the cream has much texture to offer – different shades of the same color don’t give any depth). So I removed the cream, and the cake. Because my hands are anything but sensitive, the cake broke in half. Great. I cleaned the plate, smashed the cake halfs back together, and added another batch of cream. Hoping that things would stay together for another 10 minutes or so. Using a spoon I added some trails to the cream, so that I could dump a lot of cherry sauce on top, to add a bit of depth. Without any notice, a piece of cake fell off the slice, and wouldn’t fit back in long enough for a picture. Meh. I had originally made the first version of the cake with thick pieces of cherry poached in rose wine – the wine flavour was too overpowering, and I decided to go for plain cherries, but I still had the cherries and the sauce left. Dumping a few cherries over the plate, adding mint for contrast and drizzling over some sauce – things didn’t look all that bad anymore. I thought the cake crumble would add a nice little roughness to the picture – but now it just looks sloppy. But since I don’t retouch pictures (I only adjust colours and lighting) – this is how it is. Life is a learning curve.
My dark chocolate and cherry cake.
This basic recipe translates to a 12cm (diameter) cake – enough for two people, especially after a nice lunch or dinner. If you want to feed more people, quadruple the ingredients, or make multiple tiny cakes for each of your guests. This cake might look similar, but tasted quite differently from my crimson raspberry and dark chocolate cake. The chopped cherries add quite a bit of extra moisture, but don’t give an intense taste. Rather, I think they bring out the chocolate flavour. The cake needs about 30 minutes of baking, and a little longer in the warm oven to rest.
- 65 g of dark chocolate
- 65 g of butter
- 20 g of coco-powder
- 20 g of flour
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 80 g of sugar
- 120 g of canned (sour) cherries (eg. morello cherries)
- Set up a pan with water, fit in a bowl. Add the chocolate, butter, and sugar to the bowl and slowly melt everything. Make sure to stir well.
- Take off the heat, add the egg and whisk well.
- Mix together two pinches of salt, the flour, coco powder and baking powder. Add to the batter and stir well. Make sure to incorporate any lumps and whisk until the batter has thickened and lost its gloss.
- Chop the cherries coarsely and fold under the batter.
- Grease and flour a spring form (bottom layered with parchment paper) and scoop in the batter
- In a pre-heated oven (180°C) bake for 30 minutes (or until a toothpick, that you pierce the cake with, comes out almost dry, with little crumbles on it). Turn of the heat and leave in the warmed oven for about 10-15 minutes.
If you want to be a fancy host, or charm a date, serve this with poached cherries – making this takes about an hour, but requires no attention.
My poached cherries:
- A bottle of rosé wine (750 ml)
- Sugar (2tbsp)
- Cherries (400g – canned or fresh and destoned)
- Corn starch (1 tbsp)
- Add a bottle of wine to a sauce pan (keep about two shots), reduce to about one third on low heat. Add the sugar.
- Add the cherries to the wine, and let them simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Take out the cherries. Mix the cornstarch with some cold water, and stir the resulting runny paste into the simmering wine, until it thickens (about ten minutes). If necessary add more starch.
- Add the rosé you kept and the cherries.
- Keep well in the fridge for about a week. Glorious with greek yoghurt.