Thursday, August 25, 2011

A journey through Chocolate Cake

This particular story begins on an ordinary day when a young girl walked into her first Year 8 food technology practical class which, like the rest of the class, she was looking forward to. They were baking chocolate cake today, using a simple melt and mix recipe, and since the lesson was only 50 minutes, the ingredients were already measured and prepared. It couldn’t have been any easier or fool-proof.

By the end of the lesson, the whole room smelt of sugar and chocolate as everyone pulled a beautiful (it a little ordinary) chocolate cake out of their ovens. It was soft, it was chocolatey- it was delicious!

The girl was simply amazed.

What? Wasn’t cake making supposed involve many years of practice and learning? Wasn’t there supposed to be some sort of skill involved? How could she have just made such a delicious cake using such simple ingredients?

So amazed was this little girl that the first thing she did when she went home, was to fumble through her pantry to find the ingredients required for this magical cake and give it a go herself. If she could replicate the recipe at home, it would be perfect as it was her mother’s birthday- it would be the first birthday cake she had ever made for her mother!

After carefully measuring out each ingredient, and following the recipe precisely (and making much of a mess in her kitchen), she eventually managed to prepare the batter and put it in the oven where she waited optimistically for her cake to finish baking. Unfortunately, it did not turn out quite as well as expected.....

(try not to laugh!)

What the girl didn’t realise, was that her (seemingly clever) substitution of Nesquik milk chocolate powder for cocoa powder was not the best idea, contributing to only the slightest chocolate flavour in the cake. That, and perhaps some over mixing of the batter, resulted in a strange looking cake with an even stranger texture and flavour which was barely edible.

Oh’s the thought that counts right? ;)

Not completely disheartened at her unexpected failure, she bought a box of cocoa powder on her next supermarket trip and attempt number 2 and 3 followed a few weeks later. But still no successes. The cake was never sweet, nor chocolaty enough (perhaps the fault of the recipe) and of course, the girl was not quite daring enough to change the amount of sugar or cocoa powder in the recipe.

Taking the easy way out, she decided to start with box mixes instead, and not surprisingly managed to create a few, tasty cake-looking cakes out of them.

Convinced she had gained some experience, knowledge and perhaps skill in the kitchen, she decided to tackle the chocolate cake again- this time with a new recipe, from the back of the cocoa box. The recipe itself was simple- another melt and mix recipe quite similar to the one she had been using from school. Expecting a failure once again, you could imagine her surprise when out of the oven popped a beautiful looking chocolate cake!

one of the later attempts at this recipe (the first one wasn't that pretty...)

It was from that moment that she was hooked onto baking. There was something indescribably satisfying about successfully creating a cake from scratch that lured her back into the kitchen time and time again. She started to find herself flicking through cookbooks, as this interest slowly spread from cakes, to cookies, to desserts, and eventually to food in general.

One day, she started a food blog....and the rest is history ;)

* * * *

It’s my blog’s 2nd birthday (two days ago actually), and I thought it would be a little fitting to look back to where it all started and see how far I’ve come. I started this blog when things were sort of going downhill- I’d been met with countless failures and decided that it would be nice to begin documenting everything, hoping that it would also force me to put more effort into ensuring successes- or at least try to make my bakes look a little better.

Whilst that goal has pretty much been achieved, what I hadn’t quite considered was that this blog would, in turn, motivate me to bake more, try out new recipes/techniques and fuel my interest in food in general. Nor did I think that I would love blogging so much (afterall, I’ve always hated writing!) and spend so much time reading many other inspirational food blogs.

A celebration cannot pass without cake, and whilst this chocolate beetroot cake I present you with today may not be quite as exciting as perhaps some complicated dessert I could have made, it does go to show much I’ve changed since I first set foot in the kitchen, when you compare this cake, with the ones I made when I first started baking.

Oh, and it tastes absolutely amazing.

The recipe comes from Sala at Veggie belly. She says on her blog, that after she tried this recipe, she threw out all her other chocolate cake recipes!! If that’s not enough to get you wanting to try this recipe, I don’t know what is! The combination of chocolate and beetroot is quite interesting- I love that the chocolate flavour in cakes is so strong and tasty that it can cover up almost anything, like mistakes (which is probably why the first thing we baked in food tech class was chocolate cake) or, in this case, most of the beetroot flavour. The beetroot is completely unnoticeable- it sort of melts into the cake, giving the most amazing moist texture, and gives it a slight hint of its own unique sweetness.

Now, I’m not usually a beetroot fan. Infact, I’m usually one of those who scream ‘yuk!’ at the sight of beetroot, perhaps because of the fact that no-one in my family likes it and as such, this was the first time we’ve had beetroot in our kitchen. I would have liked to surprise my family with the fact that there was beetroot in the cake, the way you’re supposed to with these kind of cakes, but that wasn’t the easiest job, considering I had red stained hands after peeling the beetroot and a whole pot of beetroot left over after baking the cake.

Nevertheless, they received their surprise- it was definitely a lot tastier than anyone expected and had me planning on making a second one almost instantly. It’s one of the most exciting recipes I’ve come across for a while!

Beetroot Chocolate Cake Recipe
from Veggie Belly
Original Recipe from Ross Burden

serves about 8

for the cake
85g dark chocolate
3 medium eggs
300g sugar
240ml sunflower or vegetable oil
300g cooked and pureed beets
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30g cocoa powder
200g flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the chocolate ganache
250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
250ml heavy cream

1. Pre heat oven to 350 f.

2. Melt the chocolate (for the cake) over a double boiler. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil. Slowly add the cooked beet puree , the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture. Beat just untill combined.

3. Sift the cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to the beet batter. Fold just untill everything is combined. Dont over work or over mix the batter.

4. Spread a teaspoon of butter or oil over the surface of a 10 inch cake pan. Sprinkle some flour all over, and tap out the excess. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for about 30 minutes, or till a tooth pick or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Baking time may vary depending on the pan and oven you are using.

5. While the cake is baking, work on the ganache frosting. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a sauce pan, just till it starts to barely boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk till it forms a smooth sauce.

6. When the cake is done, cool it on a wire rack. Then pour the chocolate ganache over while the ganache is still warm. Let the ganache topping cool and set a little before serving.


grub said...

so chocolate cake started it all for you :) i'd love to see your adaption of the school recipe someday. i think the most adventurous i've went was chocolate potato muffins. those were good, but i lost the recipe!!!!

i'm no fan of beetroot either, because it's purple and i hate purple :P

ann low said...

Happy Blog 2nd anniversary! The chocolate cake looks moist and delicious :) Yummy!

chocolatesuze said...

happy blogiversary! here's to many more years to come!

laurie said...

That was a fun read!!

Unknown said...

awww happy blog birthdayyyy :) and what a journey! i learnt everything from blogging too :)

Nic@diningwithastud said...

Happy 2nd blogiversary :) you've come a very long way in cake making ;) your first cake brought a smile to my cake and made me go "nawwwww bless" haha. Your beetroot cake looks amazing!

Angie's Recipes said...

Happy Blogiversary!
Love your chocolate smooth and moist.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

happy blogiversary!That was such a lovely story to read and glad you stuck with it.Your latest cake is amazing with the beetroot.

Sashquatch said...

What a lovely post and a gorgeous recipe! Got so many beets to use in the garden I cant wait to try baking with them i beautiful cakes like this :) happy blogging anniversary indeed!

chow and chatter said...

this looks amazing and to be this post is what blogging is all about thanks for sharing how are your studies going

hugs Rebecca

Jenni said...

Happy 2nd Blogiversary!! What a wonderful story! :)

T and Tea Cake said...

Ha! Congratulations for your 2nd year of blogging! I've just managed to survive two weeks so far. ;)

This post was genuinely fun to read! I like how you built up 'suspense' and then showed that picture of your first attempt. Sorry. Could not stop me from laughing. I'm not a mean person, really. ;)

Beetroot in chocolate cake... I never thought I would hear these words together. Ever. Yet I need to try that!

About sneaking in ingredients without telling people: I just made a Zucchini-Almond loaf that is everything but good for you albeit containing veggies. Knowing that one of my friends would not touch zucchinis if her live depended on it, I did not say a word until her first bite. She just looked at me for a second, competely puzzled,stuttering "But but but - it's... sweet! And...tasty...." GOTCHA!


Juliana said...

Happy 2nd Blog Anniversary! So cute the story on your post :-)
I love the idea of beet in the chocolate cake...hope you hae a wonderful weekend Von!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Happy birthday to your blog!!! I loved your stories of chocolate're perseverance sure paid off...and for this we are all grateful. Your cake is beautiful...and it convinced me to follow your blog :)

Lynn said...

Congrats on your second year of blogging! I love your story about how you began baking. The funny thing is that I started when I made a yellow cake mix :) Your cake sounds amazing (the beet root is sorta unusual!) :D

Vivian - vxdollface said...

Happy 2nd Blogaversary! love the domo layout, so cute ^^
lol dw I was quite fail in food tech and my cakes have looked worse :P interesting combo of beet and choc though, sounds somewhat delicious haha

Esther said...

Congrats! Congrats about making it through blogging for two years! That is no easy task.

Wow, I really love your style of writing. The story was so entertaining. I admire your determination so much. :) Keep it up. That cake looks very velvety. Yum.

Victoria said...

I loved reading your story!! It's funny that you substituted Nesquik powder! I remember making cookies when I was little and substituting nacho cheese doritos for potato chips. You live and learn :) Your chocolate and beetroot cake looks a LOT better! Beautiful photography too! Congrats on your 2 year blogoversary :)

Unknown said...

Aren't you glad you stuck it out with the baking all these years? Now you can finally bake the perfect chocolate cake! Lovely story and it's great to look back at photos of your first and previous attempts. Happy 2nd blogaversary, hope there'll be many more to come!

Che-Cheh said...

Hi Von, I enjoyed reading your story about how you started baking and blogging.

I'm not a good baker. Prefer cooking than baking. I think I've only baked a chocolate cake once and that's it. I knew I gotta find a delicious recipe if I ever want to try baking another chocolate cake. Your beetroot chocolate cake looks awesome. Will go hunt for beetroot. Haha

tori said...

Happy anniversary. Nothing better than having a killer chocolate cake in your arsenal. I've become so entranced by beetroot and chocolate, I've started grating really dark chocolate over roast beetroot. Pretty great with duck...

Zoe said...

Happy 2nd anniversary...You are so good with your cooking and baking now. This chocolate cake looks very yummy.

I'm sorry that I couldn't stop laughing reading your post as I was thinking of my 1st chocolate cake too...

Yours is better than mine...My 1st chocolate cake is rubbery and flat. LOL.

Yummy Bakes said...

Congrats on your 2nd anniversary. This chocolate cake looks moist and delicious. Thanks for stopping by at my blog. You have a lovely blog.

sugarpuffi said...

awww happy second blog birthday! youve come a longggggggggggggg way when it comes to choc cakes! im wondering why isnt the first cake brown?

sensiblecooking said...

Happy blog birthday and we hope to celebrate more to come. You cake looks so wonderful specially with the addition of beet.

tigerfish said...

Happy Blog-Day! And of course, this girl can bake so well now and bake for her blog-day :)

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Happy blog birthday! Isn't it funny to look back on past cooking triumphs and failures? But it's all part of growing and learning, and - if it is something that you really want to conquer (and/or eat!) - you will keep trying over and over again.


Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Happy 2nd Blog Anniversary! Wow what a milestone! It's a nice way to celebrate with this delicious moist and chocolate rich cake!! Actually I'm first time here today and I'm so happy I could celebrate your memorable 2 year anniv. :-) I hope to celebrate more anniversaries to come!

grace said...

great post, von, and happy 2 year celebration! if only i could document each of my milestones with a tasty chocolate cake. :)

nancy at good food matters said...

Ha! A joy to read. funny funny post--great story of your culinary journey.
chocolate beetroot cake is a winner--yes.

congrats on your blogiversary, too.

Viv said...

i love this story and its sooo great you have 'proof' of your first home baked choc cake too!!! i wish i had taken pic of my first experiment too!
its very encouraging to see how far you've come with your baking and photography too! im sure you'll continue to create amazing stuff like this beetroot choc cake!

muppy said...

i love your post :) sounds like you were hooked from day one! and i am yet to try the chocolate beetroot phenomena but want to, looks great.

ping said...

I hope it isn't too late to wish you a happy 2nd bloggyversary. And I'm sorry but I did laugh at the beginning but it was such great fun reading this and all your other posts (Yup, I've been poking around your blog and finally decided to pop a comment here). Looks like you're more of a veteran than I am at this and I'd probably be looking to you for future advise. Great pics too!

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