Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Boozy chocolate cake - work in progress and still delicious

I almost didn't post this case recipe.  It is more work-in-progress than brilliant recipe.  But we loved it so here it is in all its wobbly glory.  I made it on one of those days when recipes worked but not quite in the way I expected.  I forgot the oil.  I think I got the tofu quantity wrong.  The gas jet went off while cooking pasta.  I used more sugar than I meant to.  Yet it all came together eventually.

This is the sort of recipe that would horrify Martha Stewart who recently commented on bloggers not being experts and not testing recipes.  She seemed to imply that this meant recipes were not really very good.  Actually it has taken me ages to stop confusing her with that nice old lady Martha Gardener whose face is on the wool wash mix so Martha Stewart doesn't really mean much to me.  Even Google seems to think they are the same person when I try and find out anything about Martha Gardener.  But I digress.

Martha Stewart's comments made me reflect on this blog being a recipe journal rather than a recipe book.  It helps me learn about cooking.  Blogs are for punks, Martha.  And by that I don't mean the way my grandfather used it to describe an annoying young person.  I mean it is a place for people to explore and learn and become expert by doing.  It is far better and cheaper than university education.  In this spirit, I will not apologise for a recipe that is as far more scrappy notes than rigorously tested method.  I love reading about how others really cook and I hope if you are reading this, you will appreciate that this is how I cook too.

My initial intention was to bake this healthy banana bread .  Sylvia objected to the bits.  I didn't have enough honey.  I had leftover icing from my dad's birthday cake.  It also seemed a good opportunity to use the mini fudge chunks I bought at Sainsburys in December (use by date June 2013).  Somehow even though I was using the bananas from the freezer, the recipe was not what I intended.  I found the chocolate banana cake bookmarked and veered more in that direction.

I was halfway through adding dry ingredients into the mixing bowl when it struck me that perhaps here was the perfect opportunity to use up a bottle of brandy sauce in my fridge.  I bought it as a present to send by airmail to Scotland for Christmas.  Then when I got home and put on my glasses I found the use by date was the end of October 2013.  I had another brilliant idea to give it to my dad as a birthday present.  I forgot.  It had to be used.  So I chucked it into the cake with some extra cocoa to compensate for the extra sweetness.

It was no wonder I forgot about the oil.  I only remembered when I took the cake out of the oven.  It looked ok, albeit slightly sunken.  Our neighbour visited and tasted some with us.  We all loved it.  The real reason I posted the recipe was that it was lovely and fudgy, even a little chewy around the edges.  I don't know I would ever make it again like this but who knows when the opportunity will present itself again. 

I am sending this cake to Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families where she is hosting the Credit Crunch Munch event that is founded by Helen and Camilla’s blogs. I managed to use up leftovers, use lingering ingredients and use bananas that had been kept in the freezer.  And it made enough to freezer half of the cake.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago:
Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers  
Two years ago: Vegan pad see ew - with tofu omelette
Three years ago: Pea pate - sandwiches
Four years ago: Pumpkin bread pudding for interesting times
Five years ago: My Personal Vegetarian 100 List

Chocolate brandy banana cake
Adapted from The Joy of Baking

2 cups raw sugar (or less)
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
3/4 cup white self raising flour
3/4  cup cocoa (I used 1 cup)
1/2 cup fudge drops (optional)
1 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
1 cup warm water (I used brandy sauce)
1/2 cup milk (I used water)
1/2 cup neutral oil (I forgot)
Chocolate frosting (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a large jug or small mixing bowl.  Tip wet into dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Pour into a greased and lined lamington tin (9 x 13 inch). Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly.  Great warm.  Great frosted.  Half of this cake with frosting has gone into our freezer and E tells me it defrosts very well.

On the stereo:
The Best of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

17 comments:

  1. I like your view on recipe blogs as a documentation of learning how to cook. When I thought about the statement, I agree that bloggers (or most of them, however some recipe blogs look very professional) probably aren't experts on cooking, but I do think that they test their recipes. What's nice about food blogs is that often you can see pictures of the preparation process and read the blogger's thoughts about the recipe. For me, this actually seems very reliable. I mean, if I make a recipe from a cookbook I know it will never turn out as perfect as in the recipe picture (if the book has pictures - I like much better if yes!) - simply because I'm not skilled in perfectly arranging foods on a plate or in a bowl. You know, things spill etc. :D As far as I can say, food bloggers make the recipes they post and then write about it - how it went and turned out etc. I wouldn't say that food blogs are more honest, but they're definitely closer to my reality than recipes from a professional cookbook. Also, there are probably ugly-but-yummy / unspectactular-but-yummy recipes that wouldn't make it into a cookbook but are worth a try. And some recipes, like your chocolate cake, just emerge from an "accident" but turn out well nevertheless. It's good to know that accidents aren't always bad, isn't it? :) Personally, I can say that blogging about my cooking attempts made me a lot more confident and also more creative and inspired about my kitchen activities. If I didn't have my blog, I don't know whether I'd tried out so many things, and I also get a lot of ideas from other blogs which I wouldn't have if those blogs weren't there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kath - well said - I feel the same about my blog helping me building confidence and try different recipes. And I find myself reading cookbooks and wishing for my background text like I have come to love in blogs. Even the bloggers who do quite a bit of testing still have a lot of interesting reflection on the recipe and blogs also seem to offer more suggestions for variations - their recipes don't seem as fixed and didactic.

      Delete
  2. I am all for boozy chocolate cake. Martha quickly back tracked on her comments, but we now know what she really thinks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cakelaw - yes I don't think her thoughts will win her many blogging friends - but like kath talks about above, her photos always seem so nice that they seem to come out of a studio rather than a home kitchen.

      Delete
  3. Perhaps Martha doesn't understand blogging in general. I have watched her show a handful of times but, like Oprah, her interview style is terrible. Constantly interrupting the guest, often with a completely irrelevant question which then makes the guest stop what they were originally saying, then answer the new interruption. Meanwhile I'm shouting at the tv because I wanted to hear the guest finish what they were saying!

    But about testing recipes, if I posted something my mum has made since I was little, I'm not inclined to test it myself simply because my mum has done it enough times that I consider that tested, with me the consumer :)

    nice cake :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - I didn't even know you could see her show in Australia - but you don't make me feel like seeking it out :-) Though perhaps it is better to yell at a cookery show than politicians on tv (sigh!) And I think if your mum considers it a tried and true recipe than that is thoroughly tested.

      Delete
  4. I found what Martha said to be so ironic because I don't use her recipes anymore because they just don't work. Her team has great ideas certainly but she needs more recipe testing done! :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lorraine - interesting to hear your feedback on martha - perhaps she could get some bloggers to test her recipes - ha ha!

      Delete
  5. I had so much fun reading this - thank goodness you did post it. This had quite an evolution from planned banana cake to bits to actual brandied chocolate cake! I think those sorts of recipes / dishes are the best ones sometimes - fun, unexpected, and entirely embracing of possibility. I think Martha Stewart could learn a lot ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kari - I think you like processes like me - Martha Stewart just seems to like the end product :-) I swithered about posting the recipe as I am not sure I will ever make it this way again (not being the habit of buying brandy sauce) but I am glad it was entertaining!

      Delete
  6. The oil might not have gone in, but it does look wonderful. I don't think Martha did herself any favours with those comments. Maybe she feels her rather large income is under threat as bloggers post recipe for free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jac - I suspect you are right about Martha but again she doesn't really understand. My experience is that food bloggers all seem to buy a lot of magazines and cookbooks - would be interesting to compare this to non bloggers purchases

      Delete
  7. I think Veganopoulous might be right Martha these days is a business and I doubt whether she would understand the experience or the process that food blogs provide because she probably has someone writing herblogs for her. The important thing to remember is this I visit your blog on average 3 times a week and I cant remember the last time I visited hers ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Helen - that is really sweet of you to compare my blog so favourably to martha - I think you are right about her probably being removed from quite a lot of the production while bloggers like me do it all myself

      Delete
  8. Omg you are hilarious. I think it looks really lovely. I haven't baked with tofu yet but I have some in my laksa for lunch today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cass - I have a chocolate cake with tofu that I made on the blog in the early days and keep meaning to return to - though the tofu I obliquely referred to in the post was in a pasta dish that I will post about soon - glad to share a laugh

      Delete

I love hearing from you. Please feel welcome to share your feedback and questions. I have started using word verification recently to combat an avalanche of spam. Apologies for the hassle of reading the mysterious captcha code (refresh to find an easy one).