A soft breeze makes the summer curtains gently sway, outside the distant noise of a lawn mower and a bee flying by the wide open doors to my balcony. Summer has come, and later I will take a dip into the river before night falls and strange creatures surface to play and hunt.
But first I am taking the time to write these few lines and share the recipe for this cake I made my husband a few weeks ago for his birthday. It’s lots of chocolate and lots of tipsy cherries and I think we all liked it very much.
This weekend I was able to host a wonderful workshop with wonderful people and despite the complications, I am looking forward to hosting well into the month of October. It feels so good to do what I like most after all this time of restrictions and uncertainties. And most of all, to share this haven of peace with good people. Time really has no say in our village, this has become clear over the past year, we’re stuck in 19th century with all the advantages and disadvantages it brings along.
I have three spaces that are available again for the workshop in October, the „Ride of the Valkyries“, the last feast of the season. This is probably the most rooted-down of my workshops, restoring, nostalgic and a little mysterious. It’s the time of red apples dotting the pastures and the first heavy rains chasing over the golden stubbles in the fields. We distill eau de vie, the old way, and have a rustic feast. In the evenings we will cook and gather around the large table in my dining room, light a fire in the grate, and drink ruby red burgundy wines, share our stories and three days of togetherness.
Then there’s the one day workshop on 17 of September, „Redon“, and I still can squeeze in two seats. Please get in touch with me via email@example.com if you would like to join! For „Moreau“, which takes place on 23 of October, I still have good availability. As we close the season with „Moreau“, the vibe will be very similar to the „Ride of the Valkyries“.
I sincerely hope everything will be maintained as planned, and if not, there’s always a way around. Next year’s lineup is soon ready for publishing, and I know that many of you will love the little tweaks I have made to the existing programme.
As the sun is slowly sinking, the view outside my window turns golden. The water is calling, andI will leave you here with my chocolate birthday cake recipe for the time being, yet I’d be delighted to soon open my door for you.
What you’ll need
For the cake
- 6 eggs
- 180g of sugar (less if your chocolate contains already a lot of sugar)
- 180g of dark chocolate
- 180g of butter
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
For the filling
- 1dl of cherry brandy
- 100g of tipsy cherries or just cherries
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of maize starch
For the chocolate icing
- 1dl water
- 250g sugar
- 200g dark chocolate
- 12 tipsy cherries or just cherries
How to bake it
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C with the fan on.
In a bain marie, which is a pan in a pan of hot water, melt the chocolate with the butter. Be careful to have the water just simmering in order not to burn the chocolate. This will take about 10 minutes, so patience. Beat the molten mass until it’s shiny.
Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with the sugar for at least 5 minutes until it is a lovely foamy white mass. Slowly stir in the chocolate butter, then the flour and the cocoa powder. Butter the baking mould and sprinkle the inside with flour, so the cake will come out prettily when it’s done.
Beat the egg whites with the salt to a firm mass and carefully fold under, immediately transfer to the baking mould and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool in the mould.
As soon as the cake has cooled, pop it out of the mould and put it upside down on a smooth surface. Slice it into two disks. This goes easiest with a piece of metal thread or a big sharp knife. Careful not to break the cake when you transfer the upper disk to a separate plate.
Bring the sugar and water to boil and let it cook for seven minutes. While it’s cooking, melt the chocolate in the bain marie, again at a little over body temperature.
While the chocolate is melting, mix the starch with the cherry brandy and the sugar and heat until it simmers. Stir well so you’ll obtain a lazy sweet mass. Add the cherries and let it simmer at low temperatures for two minutes. Let cool for another couple of minutes and spread over the bottom disk. Put the top disk back on it.
For the chocolate icing to get really shiny, it is important that the ingredients are about the same temperature when mixing together. At any rate, the sugar syrup should be back at a little above body temperature only before you mix it with the molten chocolate. Vigorously whisk it for a couple of minutes, you may also let the kitchen robot do the job. The whisking will make it shiny and elastic. Should the icing get grainy, just put the pan back into the Bain Marie and add little bits of butter at room temperature while stirring until it gets soft and shiny again. Scoop the icing over the cake and spread evenly over the sides with a wide metal knife. Decorate with the cherries and keep in a cool spot until serving.
How to eat it
My favourite way is with a dollop of cream and a glass of Madeira wine along, the wine picking up on the dark and mysterious aromas of chocolate and red fruit. The occasion of a birthday is beneficial yet not essential, so practically speaking you may have it whenever you feel like a hearty chocolate hug.