Long before Black Forest Cherry Cake became the mainstream of English Cafes, decorated with lashings of mock cream and nasty dyed red cherries, I had eaten the real McCoy . We lived in Heidelberg, I went to the University and after class went to the best Konditerei in town, namely Schafheutel, on the Haupt Strasse to sample the delights that were on display. Years later, the munchkins and I would dash from Brussels to Aachen for the Christmas Market and our first port of call would always be Kaufhoff ( the local department store ) for breakfast and being indulgent they could have what they wanted, but none of them ever chose the Black Forest cake, sometimes it would be Apfel Strudel and sometimes Pflaume Torte, ( plum cake). Also in those Germany years, we discovered another Black Forest delight, Schwarzwalder Himbeergeist ( literal translation, Black Forest Raspberry Ghost!) this was a local Schnapps, which was served by it’s producer at the bottom of his privately owned ski lift, right in the middle of the Black Forest!
Moving on from those days, Birthdays were always celebrated with a Chocolate Birthday Cake, normally in the form of a Sacher type cake. Sachertorte, is a type of chocolate cake, invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 in Vienna, Austria.The 5th of December is National Sachertorte Day. There were during the 1930’s-1950’s huge disputes over who had the rights to the name and they were finally settled by giving the name The Original Sacher Torte, to the hotel Sacher and the name Eduard Sacher Torte to the Demel Bakery. Apparently the recipe is a secret, but for many years the closest I got to making the real thing was by using an Elizabeth David recipe from her 1960 book French Provincial Cooking. In my opinion she was the first celebrity cook, and she was a cook, not a chef, the same as Julia Child in the USA, both were inspirations to many, me included . In the 1960’s in the UK Elizabeth David published several cookery books and my original copy is well thumbed.
In recent years I moved on and started using the recipe from Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey, their famous Nemesis Chocolate Cake. The difference between their version and that of Elizabeth David, was the use of flour. For the Elizabeth David version there is a very small amount of flour whereas with the Rogers/ Grey version there is absolutely none. Both cakes are covered with a rich Chocolate Ganache, which even after learning how to “Temper” chocolate , I was not always successful in keeping a shine on my chocolate. However help is at hand, if you live in the USA, or have access to American baking products, ( check out Costco). The product that will rescue the shine is PAM spray which is used to grease a frying pan or a cake tin. It comes in an aerosol and a quick spray will do the job. However the low calorie sprays that are available in the UK, do not do the job! I have been known to be rushing around London at 9 pm trying to find Pam spray, all to no avail!
So now I have moved on again and my latest version is that which was given to me by a dear friend, along with a fool proof glaze, which does not require tempering chocolate. I have also adapted her recipe slightly
- 150g butter
- 150g superfine sugar
- 200g plain chocolate (75% + cocoa) broken into small pieces
- 200g ground almonds
- 6 medium eggs separated
- 4tbs milk
- For the chocolate glaze
- 180 grms plain chocolate,again with a high cocoa content.
- 120g unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- Preheat oven to 150 C
- Grease and line a 25 cm cake pan, better still one with a loose bottom or a spring form pan.
- Melt butter, sugar and chocolate. I usually do this in the microwave ( see chocolate glaze for more information )
- Cool slightly and fold in the almonds, the egg yolks and milk.
- Whisk egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and fold into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour into the tins and bake for about 40 minutes.After 40 mins the top should be firm to the touch, but you can not test for doneness by the traditional method of inserting a skewer and seeing if it comes out clean. Remove from oven leave to cool for 10 minutes and then careful remove the spring form, leaving the cake on the base.. When fully cold, carefully slide with the help of a spatula onto the serving dish.
- Break the chocolate into small pieces into a bowl add the butter and the golden syrup and either melt on a low Microwave heat or place the bowl over a pan of hot water and let th chocolate melt. A point of interest, melted chocolate can be melted but still retains its shape!
- If desire you can add the grated zest of an orange.
- Pour the melted chocolate carefully over the cake. It will spill over the edge, using a damp cloth or kitchen paper, tidy up the edges.
- Decorate the cake as desired, mine with almond flakes, as someone poked a finger in!!
I saw in a cookery magazine recently a recipe called, Pizookie , it consisted of a pizza size chocolate chip cookie, which was served as a finale at dinner party, served warm with lashings of Ice Cream. ( this actually came out of the Waitrose Test kitchen) I really do not like the sound of this at all, and neither do I fancy Butter ( unsalted of course ) with chocolate chips in it,which I saw recently on French Supermarket shelves Ummm ? both are interesting but the word Interesting in Himselves vocabulary is very much a negative and I do not think I will be trying either anytime soon.
On a final note I saw in Marks and Spencer the other day, single clove garlic, whooppee I love it!!