I love to cook, consume, and chronicle beautiful food. So it’s high time I inaugurated my food blog.
This afternoon, in lieu of studying for senior semester exams, I decided to bake a cake. A recipe from Ladies, A Plate, a cookbook acquired in New Zealand, this Viennese Chocolate Nutcake did not disappoint. Made with ground almonds instead of flour, the cake itself had a mildly sweet and wonderfully textured, nutty flavor. Its gritty chocolate buttercream – with white sugar rather than the typical confectioner’s variety – was the perfect complement. Jumbo (and standard) nonpareils topped it off, giving my cake a little bit of colorful character.
Adapted from Ladies, A Plate: Traditional Home Baking by Alexa Johnston
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 oz (115 g) ground almonds
- 1 tsp matzo meal (I used whole-wheat)
- A generous splash of vanilla (I add vanilla to anything and everything sweet, it can’t hurt, right?)
- 4 oz (115 g) butter
- A scant 1/2 cup white sugar
- 7 oz (200 g) dark chocolate, melted but not hot (use high quality since this is the main ingredient in the buttercream – côte d’or is my personal favorite)
- 1 egg
1. Start by setting your oven to 190ºC (375ºF) and greasing an 8-in diameter cake pan with butter. Line the base with a circle of oven paper.
2. To make the cake, begin by beating the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until pale yellow.
3. Next, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff but not dry.
4. Fold the ground almonds and matzo meal into the yolks. When that’s done, fold in the egg whites, adding one third to half of them at a time.
5. Pour the batter into your cake pan and cook. Alexa recommends cooking this cake for 45 min, but in my oven, 35 min was plenty. Situate the cake on a rack in the middle of your oven and rotate it after about 20 min, to ensure that it bakes evenly. The cake is done when it pulls away from the edges and is golden brown on top. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
6. Now it’s time to tackle the buttercream. First, cream the butter until smooth. Then add the sugar and vanilla.
7. Next, add the chocolate, followed by the egg.
8. After you take the cake out, let it sit for a bit (let’s say at least 5 min) in order to cool down. Then, carefully invert it onto a plate.
9. To cut it into two layers, use a serrated knife to make the first incision (the outer edge of the cake is made of sturdier stuff than the inside). Then follow through with dental floss – be careful not to use the flavored kind! I find that a large spatula really helps when it comes to lifting off the top layer.
10. Lather the bottom layer with icing. This recipe make more than enough, so there’s no need to skimp.
Hokey Pokey ice cream to finish: two commonwealth treats in one!