I’m actually feeling somewhat devastated. It’s past midnight and I’ve just got to bed after finally giving up the ghost and accepting that the chocolate cake I baked earlier will not be ready for consumption tonight.
And I really, really wanted chocolate cake.
And I don’t anymore now.
And I really ought to be grateful for that seeing that I have just recently launched myself, head first into some fitness regime.
Since my last post, I’ve done several crazy things. I’ve signed up at a gym. I’ve registered for the Goodwood Roller Marathon. I actually got up at 6:30 in the morning to go for the gym induction. I walked over two miles (please don’t mock me) OUTDOORS in order to get to the cycle path where I then skated for over two miles, narrowly escaping ditches and stinging nettles.
In my realisation that I need to remedy my heart-disease magnet apple-shaped of a body where my waist measurement exceeds my hips (bootylicious is a dirty word in my books), I’ve been thinking about the inequalities surrounding women’s fitness. When I was 14, I developed an interest in weightlifting and martial arts. I aspired to look like one of those female bodybuilders. I thought they looked Goddess-like I’d always fancied the idea of being able to lift very heavy things. Essential, I thought, for the modern, third wave feminist. My father on the other hand tried very hard to convince me that these women weren’t females. This is coming from a man who literally was salivating when he saw Tina Turner’s legs in her Simply The Best music video as he proclaimed that the woman was built like a horse. It’s took me years to realise how inappropriate he was. My mother couldn’t understand why I wanted to do aggressive sport like martial arts, in fact, I don’t think she understood why any female should do any physical activities that looked like hard work and would make you sweat.
For years, I was convinced that the simple solution would be to just eat less. That’s what women did, they just ate less. Leave the sports to the men. And if that didn’t work, the nice doctor at the private clinic would happily prescribe you diet pills that would shed the weight initially but then requires ever increasing higher dosage to continue working. It took me several black-outs and a few years to realise that what I had been prescribed was effectively speed.
But this is pretty common stuff, isn’t it? Women’s fitness, like women’s health is often an afterthought. Something that has to be incorporated and made to fit current expectations. Men go off to the gym for some dedicated fitness time and women are fobbed off with special shoes that will tone their butts. Men take up sport to be faster, or bigger or stronger or all three but women diet so they can be thin.
So why am I baking a chocolate cake when I’ve just signed up for a new fitness regime? Because my problem isn’t with food. I don’t want it to be but it will be if I look at it as an enemy. Food isn’t a sin. Damn that slimming programme that labels decadent food as syn points. I don’t want to raise children who are frightened of real food. That’s the root of an unhealthy relationship with eating.
Also, in all the years of my baking, I have yet to settle with a favourite chocolate cake recipe. So I decided that this is just as good as a time to start my quest for the most perfect chocolate cake. This one ain’t it, SniffSnorter, but it is pleasant enough.
The cake calls for these ingredients.
300g light muscovado sugar
100g plain flour
100g self-raising flour
300g dark chocolate
You can read the rest of the instructions from here. However, I did make some alterations and used a different recipe for the cake covering and skipped out on the torting the cake in two and filling it.
The cake covering is a chocolate caramel ganache. It’s an adaptation of Pierre Herme’s recipe.
Chocolate Caramel Ganache
150g dark chocolate 70%, finely chopped
10g salted butter
130g double cream
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature.
Caramelise the sugar in a saucepan and stir in the salted butter carefully, avoiding the splutters. Carefully add the cream and bring to boil, ensuring that you stir constantly. Take it off the heat.
Add half the caramel on to the chocolate and sir until smooth. Combine in the rest and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Ensure that the unsalted butter is super soft but avoid whipping it or introducing air into the butter. It needs to drop like mayonnaise.
Add the butter and stir gently. You do not want to introduce air into this icing but you need to make sure that You’ve incorporated any buttery globules into the icing.
The ganache is now ready to use.
The verdict? It’s a very chocolatey cake. Akin to a mud cake, I suppose, with definite chocolate flavour. If you look at the ingredients list, you will realise that there is no vanilla extract to lessen the blow of the intense chocolate. The chocolate caramel ganache further intensifies the flavour. My squabble. With it? It took longer than the 1 1/2 hour it said it would take to bake it. I think mine took 2 hours. And the top domed, cracked and became quite crisp but not burnt.