Elizabeth David’s flourless chocolate cake – an idea for Father’s day surprise

We are a family of three and on a daily base the emotions easily become  intense, good or bad, as there is no one else to turn to – but us. The rest of the family lives around the world, so other than the yearly visits to see some of them and lots of Skype time, we rely on our little family of three. Or at least that is how I saw it. Our son needed some time to understand that mum and dad were there to share their time, love and wisdom with him – evenly. For him it was simply natural to be around mum, and sometimes his father had to work hard to get his attention. Although it required much patience to manage the feelings, I new that it was just a matter of time when my leaving the house wouldn’t bring tears and a simple “bye mum” would replace them. That has been the case for some time now and as much as I enjoy the emotional growth I do miss the obligatory hugs and kisses I used to receive. On the other hand, that gives me a better understanding of being “the other parent”. Now I admire the father’s patience and wisdom even more. He was always there when needed, and patiently waited for the child to realise that he could share some moments with his father only and by doing so make them even more precious.

This cake is only a symbol of our love but it’s a sweet one and we love it, so why not share it! The favourite cake of all times for this family will be this one but this new version might replace the favourite one at least occasionally, as we have learned that new exciting ventures are just around the corner, we just have to let them reach us.  Elisabeth David’s flourless chocolate cake is a perfect example. This particular one is for all the fathers out there who love chocolate cakes!

Elisabeth David’s flourless Chocolate cake

230 gr dark chocolate

170 gr sugar

170 gr butter

170 gr almond meal

6 eggs

2 tablespoons  black coffee

1 teaspoon rum

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a 23cm baking tin  (with removable base) with baking paper.

Melt chocolate in a double broiler, add the coffee and rum, stir and add butter. Stir the mixture gently until butter is melted. Add sugar and egg yolks (one at the time) and stir again.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the baking tin and bake for 45-50 minutes. Cake should have crust on the top and should be very soft in the middle. That means it’s perfect! Best eaten as is or you can dust it with icing sugar.

Olive oil sorghum biscuits with ginger and cinnamon

Lately, I found myself thinking how we humans have a tendency to overdo – whatever we are doing really. A cake has to have two icings, or more than two colours for decoration. A dress is too plain without an additional scarf or a necklace. Watching a movie and not having popcorn is unthinkable. Doing at least one more thing while we are on the phone, well we can’t imagine the other way around. The list can go on and on… and that is life these days.

Yes, I agree, some things give us pleasure, they don’t necessary go just under a must category. Like the popcorn we’re eating while watching a movie with our child, for example. That wasn’t my point though and the question to myself and to all of us is – can we just be? Can we create only simple things and  maybe gain extra free time? Imagine having that free time – every day. What would you do with it? How about – nothing and just be? Wouldn’t that be nice?

How many times have I done that? Not many if I want to be honest as I have the tendency to bake every chance I get. You might say that these gluten-free biscuits contributed to my tendency to overdo things, but you see, I had a good reason for baking these! A friend of ours is baby siting our son and the parents – us, are leaving the house for a movie session and a glass of wine. I had to add something sweet to their pizza and a movie at home. After all it’s one of the ways of saying thank you to such a good friend. You have to agree it’s a mighty good reason for baking biscuits.

As our friend is a gluten intolerant I planed a gluten-free treat. Although no one in our family is gluten intolerant, we enjoy all those flours for their particular taste. Sorghum flour is one of them. Lately I like to use it for biscuits more than cakes (the youngest in our family is not so crazy about cakes made with sorghum flour) and these are one of them. They go very well with Miyazaki movies and with a glass of wine afterwards.

Olive oil sorghum biscuits with ginger and cinnamon

200 g sorghum flour

50 g arrowroot flour

200 g  rice flour

1 teaspoon gf baking powder

150 g raw sugar

pinch of sea salt

150 ml olive oil

50 ml water

1 egg

1 egg yolk (I used the egg white to brush the biscuits)

1 lemon zest

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mesure and mix the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt in one bowl.

Whisk the egg yolk with the water in the food processor and add slowly olive oil until you make mayonnaise. The mayonnaise won’t be as thick as normally is so you shouldn’t worry if it looks a bit runny.

Pour the mayonnaise into the flour and mix with your hands (which is what I did) or use a stand mixer with a classic beater attachment. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and knead until you get a nice and smooth dough. Don’t overdo it; you don’t want to warm up the dough too much.

Cover with clear wrap and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Once ready, roll the dough into 5 millimetres thick sheet. Using a ruler and a pastry cutter cut the strips 4 centimetres wide. Cut again, horizontally, to make the rectangular-shape biscuits (I made mine 6 centimetres long). Use all off cuts to make the biscuits by repeating the process.

Place the biscuits onto the baking tray, leaving enough room in-between. Brush with the lightly whisked egg white and dust with the ginger powder and cinnamon powder.

Bake for 20-25 mites or until the biscuits change colour.

Once done leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.

May be kept in the airtight container for 2 weeks.

First year of bake and sorghum genoise with ricotta frosting and sesame praline

I talk to my son about learning new things/skills almost on a daily basis. He still doesn’t  fully understand that any person, even a little one, has to put some effort in, in order to achieve something. For him things happen in a blink of an eye. When he decided that he was ready to use his legs, he did it. He was 7 months old and standing! It didn’t take long and he was walking freely around the house. To be more precise, he was 9 months old. That was his speed and he hasn’t stopped since.

Until we come across our first obstacle, we don’t know how much effort is required – for my son, believe it or not, it was about not being able to use a swing on his own; It didn’t come as an easy package for him and we had our own first serious eye opening experience. Thus I believed that we needed to teach him how to understand the effort and beauty of slow learning. I believe that is the biggest advantage of our species and our developed brains. Lets fill them with knowledge and not be scared to do so.

I am talking purely from personal experience.

Bake is one year old! It’s a perfect example of starting from a blank page. It’s been an intense year of learning and then a bit more learning, through this space. One year ago I knew almost nothing about web sites and everything that goes with them. I am not saying that I know everything now, but I do know much more than I knew back then. And it is a wonderful feeling! The best ever and one I want to share with the rest of the world – for a long period of time. So here is the conclusion: not knowing is just the beginning of a wonderful journey of learning! It might be bumpy in the beginning but once it starts to sail smoothly and get back to you (and it will for sure) it is the most wonderful feeling. That is Bake to me.

Beginnings are something I want to remember and go back to every time I come across an unknown to remind and encourage me, because the learning process never stops. I am sure there will be many more beginnings, but I am particularly fond of this one! And I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this without your help!

Thank you all for being part of this wonderful journey!

I’ve adopted sorghum flour sponge cake from Alice Meldrich’s Flavour flavours book (it is an absolutely fantastic book with all the flavours in it). Sorghum is one of the new flours for me, and I’ve been using it for only a few months now. I absolutely love it so far. The frosting is from one of the recipes from fantastic Emiko Davies’ blog (actually we’ve been baking the whole cake for two Birthdays party in a row – by kid’s demand). I love the combination in this cake and I love what I have learned so far in the cake world! The recipe needed to be tested before appearing in this space so the first time I made it for my husband’s birthday dinner party just a few weeks ago. I ‘ve played a bit with the appearance but the recipe stayed pretty much the same. It was a winner from the beginning and well deserved to be shared on a such a special day!

Sorghum sponge cake with ricotta frosting

Sponge cake/Genoise:

90 gr Sorghum flour

35 gr rice flour

70 gr clarified butter or ghee

130 gr sugar

4 large eggs

a pinch of sea salt

2 tablespoon water

2 tablespoon rum

Frosting:

500 gr ricotta

150 gr butter

100 gr powdered sugar

Sesame praline:

200 gr sugar

80 ml water

100 gr sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 175C. Line 3 baking tins, 4″ in size with baking paper.

You will need clarified butter for this recipe, which is a butter, separated from milk solids and water. It’s an easy process and all you need to do is: Heat the butter in a small saucepan until sizzling. Remove the pan from the heat, wait a minute until foam settles, remove it with a spoon and pour the clear liquid to a clean jar, leaving watery/milky solids in a saucepan.

Genoise is a fancier name (originally from Genoa/Genova) for a sponge cake. Love the name and now love this Genoise made of Sorghum flour. The making of this cake is a peculiar one and all the steps should be followed precisely. This cake doesn’t have rising agent, so should be handled carefully.

Heat the clarified butter and prepare the medium size bowl to be used for the clarified butter and flour batter mix.

In a medium size bowl mix the flours with 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a different bowl break the eggs and whisk with the remaining sugar and salt for 4-5 minutes or until pale and firm. This will help the cake to rise! Add 1/3 of the flour and mix gently with spatula, add the next 1/3 of flour repeating the process and finishing with the last third of flour.

Pour clarified butter into a medium size bowl, add 1/3 of eggs and flours batter and stir gently until blended. Then pour that mixture back into the eggs and flours batter and mix gently until just folded. Pour the batter into baking tins and bake for 35 minutes.

Once baked place on a cooling rack and brush generously with water and rum liquid. Repeat the process until you use all the liquid. It’s nicer when it’s well soaked, especially in this case (original recipe ask for a 8″ tin and once cooled cake is sliced into three thiner layers).

Frosting: is made of ricotta with a touch of butter and sugar and it’s fantastic as it is. Just beat all ingredients together until well blended. Do it just before you are ready to frost the cake. This amount of ricotta frosting will be enough to fill and frost the cake but in case you decide to go with a naked looking cake, the leftovers can be served separately with every piece.

Praline: Place sugar and 80 ml water in a clean pan and simmer over low heat until sugar dissolves. All the sugar needs to be soaked in water but don’t stir it, just swell the pot if needed. Increase heat to medium (but be careful not to burn it) and cook for another few minutes or until dark caramel in colour. Add sesame seeds to caramel, stir with wooden or silicon spoon until all seeds are coated with caramel. Then pour mixture onto the lined baking sheet in a thin layer. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes, then break into pieces before use. Can be stored in an airtight container or zipper bag for a month.

Assembling the cake: place ricotta filling into a piping bag and pipe (making circles) the top of every cake. Sprinkle with sesame pralines. Assemble cakes and decorate with pralines and fresh fruit of your choice.

Gluten free hidden treasure – almond cake

Awakening – Anthony de Mello, were my first thoughts this morning. I reached for the book on my shelf, read so many times and yet needed to be read one more time. This simple and nourishing book is needed occasionally to awaken me. That would be the simple but honest reason. The other might be a sleepless night, blurred thoughts and the need for (besides a strong coffee) a straight and fast quality in my life.

The interesting part of this story though, is that  just a few shelves away from my brain cell stimulating books, I keep my other nourishing books (or at last some of them, because honestly  they are all around the house, refusing to find one place to stay). I am talking about ones with all the magic ingredients for a sweet life, the ones that give you instant relief amongst all the answers. And the right answer always is – indulge yourself! (because we are a selfish species anyway – a very rough description of much deeper thoughts of the above mentioned wise person).

So what happened here today is that I fed myself twice. Since I took two books, or to be more precise a book and a note book also known as recipe book in my house, and without a vivid explanation I reached for an almost forgotten, slightly mysterious recipe called Almond cake! What could possibly be mysterious about Almond cake ? Well you see all the recipes in my recipe book have a short explanation about their background. Even just a name of the person who gave me the recipe would tell me a lot about a desert, but in this case there was no explanation on the background subject, except for my smudgy handwriting at the right top corner, saying “Auntie’s cake”?! Don’t laugh! I spent whole morning thinking about the mysterious Auntie, since we are not talking about my Auntie here. Whose Auntie that could be and why didn’t I write a clearer explanation? No answer here: again, all the answers are in the cake. And the cake itself! Oh you need to taste this one, as my words are simply not enough!

The cake is made from four ingredients. Like many old recipes, it’s simple to make but divine in it’s simplicity and most importantly it’s gluten free! I used unblanched almonds (the only reason is laziness since I couldn’t get the blanched ones and couldn’t be bothered to blanche and dry them for a few hours) so the cake is slightly darker that it should be. Not a problem at all.  As a matter of fact, if you find yourself to be in the same situation, don’t hesitate to do the same. Also I love the almond essence twist. The cake is quite moist thus can be served as it is and enjoyed. Of course your preference may be different so you can  serve it with whipped cream or maybe adding lemon zest can make it even better. I’ll leave it to you!

Almond cake – gluten free

5 eggs

125 gr caster sugar

125 gr unsalted butter (melted and left to cool on a room temperature)

150 gr almond meal

1 1/2 teaspoon almond essence

pinch of salt

Heat oven to 180 C. Grease and line with baking paper 22cm round tin.

If you don’t use almond meal, the one you can buy at the markets you can grind the blanched (also can be both at the supermarkets) or unblanched ones until very fine.

Separate the yolks from the whites and place them in two bowls. In the one with the egg yolks add the sugar and beat 3-5 minutes or until very pale and light. Add the butter and beat until all combined. Reduce the speed of your mixer and add almond essence and almond meal. Mix until all incorporated.

Add sea salt in the bowl with the egg whites and beat for 4-5 minutes or until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Combine two mixtures by adding the egg whites to the other mix, mixing gently with a spatula so you don’t lose the air from the egg whites.

Pour into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45-50 minutes to until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar before serving.