[Not unlike lost property – My grand-mother chocolate loaf cake]
Last week I told you about that chocolate cake, of the lost objects kind. And the next day, this happened:
I have a story for you today. it starts with chocolate and butter. pic.twitter.com/pIGa20VFn6
— fanny zanotti (@cacahuete) March 31, 2014
Yes, one phone call to my grand-mère later – me, describing a guessed ingredient list, and her, flicking through the pages of her stained notebook – she found the cake we’d made together five years ago. A cake she’s been making for ever. And a cake I plan on making for ever.
She told me how she reduced the quantity of sugar by half. And I did too.
However, the chocolate I used had a much higher percentage than the go-to French dark chocolate, so if you’re using 70% chocolate, I recommend increasing the sugar ever so slightly.
That day, I melted butter and chocolate together. And whipped egg whites. Egg yolks too, with caster sugar. And a little story was made on Steller.
Yes, it is my new favourite app. And probably yours too, soon.
That night, he took my hand. We put our shoes on. And left the house on our skateboards. He was wearing soft trousers and a hoodie, most likely than not. And I was all leggings and t-shirt.
I couldn’t help but remember those early winter nights, during which I was taught how to skate, late at night on tennis courts, somewhere in New Zealand.
And this time, it wasn’t any less dreamy. We could feel the magic that only comes with spring and empty streets.
We sat on that bench. With an empty square before our eyes. And a can of beer – that we’d bought with the only coins we left the house with – in our hands. One pound et des poussières [and a bit]. A few people were waiting for the night bus by the stop. And cars didn’t seem to be a thing.
On the way back home, I picked a cherry blossom, now left to dry in between two pieces of newspaper in Pictures by Tim Walker. My most loved book when it comes to dry flowers; when it comes to everything really!
Maybe one day, I’ll show you.
We came home and had a coffee. Perhaps, a slice or two of chocolate cake. And lay on a bed made of pillows – a lot – and a mattress – a little. He said we couldn’t never have enough pillows. We might have fallen asleep to the sound of nothingness.
Le cake au chocolat de grand-mère
I can’t believe I had forgotten about this cake. We’d been making it for years. Every summer spent in Fouras would mean chocolate cake for the week-ends, even thoigh at the time, every day was a week-end. Beach and bike rides. Early morning visits to le marché [the market] and oranges glacées for dessert. At times, we’d have mystère instead, a vanilla ice-cream sphere encasing meringue topped with pralin.
But you see, this cake is not one for dessert. It’s one you have for le goûter of the four o’clock kind. Or that morning cup of coffee. Or in our case, that past-midnight cup of coffee.
It’s understated. Dark with chocolate. Dense but somewhat magically light at the same time. Almost like a baked chocolate mousse. Perhaps, next time, I’ll try to substitute some of the flour for ground almonds. Or breadcrumbs.
In fact, did I ever tell you about my mom’s breadcrumb and chocolate cake? If not, please remind me to do so. It’s wonderful in every way too!
Just a quick note on the sugar: if you’re using 70% chocolate you might want to increase the sugar to 150g. However, if you go for the usual 55%, 100g of caster sugar will be more than enough.
200g dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
100 to 150g caster sugar (see note above)
70g plain flour
6 egg whites
a pinch of maldon sea salt
butter, at room temperature, to pipe on top of the loaf
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Generously butter a loaf tin and line with baking paper.
In a large heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until lighter in colour and fluffy; and gently fold into the melted chocolate. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
Finally, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they hold firm peaks. Add a third of the meringue and mix well to loosen the batter. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold in until they are no more streaks.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and pipe a thin line of softened butter accross the cake. This will get you a neat crack after baking! Bake for around 30 minutes, or until a small knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly, then unmould.
It’s pretty beautiful, reheated briefly in the microwave, with a glass of ice-cold almond milk. Or toasted with a big fat spoonful of cherry compote in the morning.