While the food world is rocked with the horsemeat scandal, I am afraid I am concerned with a slightly less dramatic, but perhaps no less important (to me, at least) issue - chocolate cake.
I jest, of course. I am horrified that an undeclared product has entered our food chain. Provided it is fit for human consumption, I have no problem with horsemeat being sold & consumed (although I probably wouldn't be rushing to buy it). I do have a problem with the fact that somewhere along the line, it has been passed off as beef, with no thought to whether it is in fact fit for human consumption. As with many other food bloggers, I cook most of our food from scratch (I won't deny that there's a box of fishfingers in the freezer, but you know what I mean). I also buy the majority of my meat from my local butcher, or a small holder, and I trust them both - but I'd like to think that Findus, and the other companies involved in this trusted their suppliers of meat too - and still this happened. Something is very wrong in our food industry.
I will carry on as before - cooking from scratch, buying from people I trust - because there is nothing else I feel I can really do at the moment, and I am not going to comment further at this point. I'd commend these two short and to the point posts by bloggers I admire immensely, The View from the Table and Pint Sized Rants on the subject. As they pretty much sum up how I feel, I'll leave it there and get back to cake.
Pink does not like chocolate cake. Once you've scraped yourself up off the floor and offered me your condolences, let me tell you that I can kind of see why. She has very eclectic tastebuds, and tends to the sour end of the scale - passion fruit, pineapple, lemon (which she will suck with not a hint of eye screwing). On Friday, after school, the kids are allowed 'sweets' from the Co-Op on the way home from school. Blue will often choose something chocolatey, but Pink will go for sweets every time. That's not to say she doesn't like chocolate, but not too much of it, and when I make a chocolate cake, it always ends to be at the dark end of the scale, and it's too much for her.
Saturday was cold and snowing. The Husband and I were out late on Friday night and we had to foray into Basingstoke on Saturday morning for tedious things like school shoes (one pair, previous pair trashed), school trousers (2 pairs, previous pairs irrevocably trashed with the patches coming off), glasses tightening (hockey stick in face incident). On return, and after lunch, I was waiting for the kettle to boil to have a cup of tea and realised that there was no cake in the house (apart from worthy stuff with fruit in it frozen for packed lunches in handy portions):
Seized by an absolute need for chocolate cake, and determined to produce something different, lighter to the usual, I consulted various tomes and came up with a cake based on Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake, using a frosting based on Dan Lepard's treacle fudge icing from Short & Sweet. Essentially, buy replacing some cocoa with Ovaltine, it makes a less totally chocolatey chocolate cake, but no less delicious when you're feeling needy on a cold wet Saturday afternoon.
Less Chocolatey Chocolate Cake
200g plain flour
200g caster sguar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g unsalted butter (at room temp)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
150ml sour cream (at room temp)
Pre-heat the oven to 180C, and grease and line 2 20cm sandwich tins with loose bottoms (as opposed to soggy bottoms).
Beat everything together in a food mixer - I have a trusty old Kenwood for the job. Nigella uses a food processor. You could do it by hand. You get quite a thick batter to divide between the tin, and smooth out, then bake for around 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out, and leave to cool while you make the frosting.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp cocoa
4 tbsp cornflour
125g dark chocolate & 125g milk chocolate, chopped (or use buttons that you can get now for cooking with)
2 tsp vanilla extract
50g soft unsalted butter
Beat together the syrup, treacle, cocoa, Ovaltine, cornflour and milk in a saucepan till smooth, then bring to the boil, stirring pretty much all the time - it's a little like custard. When it starts 'phutting' like any kind of custard/white sauce as it comes to the boil, take the pan off the heat and beat in the chopped chocolate until it's all smooth and shiny. When the heat has pretty much gone out of it, beat in the vanilla and the butter (do this in little pieces).
Use this to sandwich the cake together and then to cover the outside. This makes a little more than you will need for the cake above, but I have had some success freezing this kind of icing.
Serve with a cup of tea by a roaring fire and feel instantly better.
Did Pink like it? Well by the time the the cake was baked and frosted, she and Blue had already departed for their Harry Potter party (the Hagrid costume and the dragon eggs worked fine, thank you very much!), so it was up to the Husband and I to sample it first. We pronounced it to be mighty fine.