Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Accidentally great cake

On settling into our new abode in Manchester, I decided that a high priority was to test the baking power of the oven.

A plan formed in my head over the course of the morning - my never-fail chocolate cake mixed with walnuts, coffee essence and a ganache topping made with half dark, half white vegan chocolate.

The usual cake recipe makes and extraordinary quantity, so I made 2/3 this time (mostly to avoid having an excess of cake in the flat). I also used no caf instead of just water as we don't have coffee, but if you wanted a fully caffeinated cake it's probably best to use real coffee! I thought the no caf lent a nice malty quality to the finished product though. It may be impossible to ever actually recreate the flavour of the cake as I made it as my coffee extract is a year out of date, but I'm pretty sure that if your coffee extract tastes of coffee, the cake will still be delicious.

Not-quite-coffee, chocolate and walnut cake

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
2 tbsp cornflour (to compensate for the denseness of the whole spelt flour)
1 1/3 cups sugar (I used 1 cup raw cane, 1/3 muscovado)
3 tbsp cocoa (more if you want more chocolatey and less coffee-y)
1 rounded tsp baking soda
1 scant tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1 1/3 tbsp vinegar
1 and a bit tsp vanilla
1 and a bit tsp coffee extract (more or less to taste)
1 1/3 cups no caf (or water, or coffee)
1/2 cups crushed walnuts

Preheat oven to 200/mark 5. Grease and flour the tin. As usual, mix wet ingredients, mix dry ingredients, then stir until just combined before adding the walnuts. Now, my book says bake 30 minutes and that's usually been fine, but i used a deeper tin and an uinknown oven, and I have to leave it in for aaaages this time. So start with 30 mins and add more in 5/10 minute increments if necessary. You can test doneness by sticking a sharp implement into the middle - if it comes out with goo on it, it's not done.

Ganache topping

1/4 cup soya milk
30g chocolate - normally just dark but this time I used half vegan white and half dark for a mellower taste (as a result I omitted any further sweetner due to the huge amount of sugar in the white choc, but if you're going with all dark, add 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave)

Heat the milk until it's just boiling, then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth and delicious-looking.

Make sure the cake is completely cool before covering it or the topping will get too runny. If you're feeling particularly decadent, the cake can probably stand a double quantity of ganache! Don't forget to add some walnuts to the top before it sets completely.

Also, we don't have a fridge yet so I couldn't do this, you might want to consider splitting the cake horizontally and adding some whipped soya cream in the middle...

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