The past few days have been rather quiet where my baking is concerned. I burnt my right hand index finger while baking this cake…..don’t ask me how. Each burn scar on my hands (and there are many) has a story to tell! But then I am sure that is the case with many of us – especially scatter- brained ones like me.
This Mocha Brownie Cake recipe is from “Baking with Julia” by Dorie Greenspan and the contributing chef is the “Guru of Ganache”, Marcel Desaulniers. He is an American chef and the author of many cookbooks including the famous “Death by Chocolate”.
Anyone who is a fan of Julia Child must have this in their collection of cookbooks. The book is based on her American tv show of the same name where she invited pastry chefs, all masters in their fields, into her kitchen and baked with them. The instructions are so detailed that even a novice baker like me can pass off as a pro :-).
I normally avoid making egg based cakes because my husband, who is a vegetarian (he does not eat eggs), is unable to taste the fruit of my labour. But this cake sounded too tempting, not to say decadent, to miss up on. Besides, I was expecting guests and reasoned to myself that this would make a great dessert to serve them. (Also I WAS doing my husband a favour by not tempting him with this ….he is on a weight-loss program).
The cake is, to state the obvious, a chocolate based one using both semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolates. The ratio of flour used is less, giving the cake a brownie-like texture. The ganache is made of chocolate and coffee decoction (mocha). This is then poured between the layers and on top, making it a chocolate-coffee lover’s delight!!
I made some changes to the original recipe not because it needed any but simply because I wanted to make a smaller cake and I did not have some ingredients.
I changed all cup measures to weight where possible as I prefer weighing out the ingredients. I also used half the quantity to make a smaller cake.
The original recipe calls for 5 eggs and I used 2 whole eggs and an egg yolk.
I did not have any sour cream so I substituted hung yogurt for it.
I baked the cake in an 8″ by 4″ loaf tin and since it was a dark coloured pan, I reduced the oven temperature to 150C/300F. I baked it for 32 minutes in my oven.
One hint that I followed from a fellow baker was to leave out the sugar and butter in the ganache. It could most definitely do without the extra calories!! And the ganache and cake were sweet enough as it is.
When I first tasted the ganache, it tasted of chocolate with no hint of coffee. Maybe I had used a weak decoction. Then I had an ‘aha’ moment. I added a couple of tablespoons of Kahlua liqueur to the ganache to accentuate the coffee flavour. I think that really hit the spot!! And elicited a lot of ‘ahas’ from people who ate it :-).
To assemble, I lined the loaf tin with parchment paper which came up 1″ above the top of the pan to make it easier to remove the cake from the pan.
I also trimmed the sides of the cake and then cut it into three layers. I find it easy to cut the cake into layers using a twine.Visually divide the cake into the required number of layers and make slits at the spot with a sharp knife. Use kitchen twine (or strong sewing thread, as I did) and holding it with both hand slip it into the wedge. Hold one hand steady and slowly pull the twine with the other hand along where you want to cut the layers. Go down the entire length and slowly bring the other end of the twine to meet the first. Cross over the twine ends and pull to separate the cake layers.
To give fair warning, though the cake and ganache were easy to make, it did take time (and patience) to assemble as the cake and ganache had to be chilled before using and also between layers. So please earmark a full day to make this one.
Update- I have been remiss in my account and realized that while going through the experience of the other members of TWD. Most of us had issues with getting the cake out of the pan. Despite generously greasing and flouring the pan, my cake stuck resolutely to the pan and refused to come unstuck. I finally ran a plastic knife along the edges, upturned it and gave the tin a solid whack (OK, maybe two). To my relief (and eternal gratitude) that did the trick. Next time round I will be lining the bottom of the tin with parchment!!
The Tuesdays with Dorie group is currently baking from “Baking with Julia”. I think what I really look forward to, as the reveal day approaches, is to see how the others have tweaked the recipes and done amazing things with it. They really are a talented bunch and you must visit them to check out the Mocha Brownie cakes that they have baked.
The recipe is given on page no. 282-283 of the book.