Monday, July 20, 2009

Room for one more on the bandwagon?

SO I'VE been pondering starting a blog for a while now.
I'm not the kind of cook who whips up astonishingly good meals out of her head; I can't admit to making sweets so beautiful they make you sigh with longing. I can't take a beautiful picture and, God help me, I didn't even watch MasterChef Australia! What business do I have gibbering about baking goodness among such talent?
But baking makes me happy, it's as simple as that. Trying new things, playing with dough and icing, revisiting old favourites, is a joy that's guaranteed to leave me feeling at peace with the world (well, when things go well). It never fails to amaze me that you can take butter, sugar and flour and finish with something that's completely different each time, something that's greater than the sum of its parts. And so I'm jumping on this bandwagon despite my baking faults, despite the fact the rest of the known world started a blog about 10 years ago, because it seems like the food blogging community is wide, kind and (hopefully) very forgiving.

Anyway, enough philosophy; bring on the cake!

Among my many life quests is to find myself a go-to chocolate cake recipe, learn it off by heart and always have the ingredients for it in the pantry. Oh sure, I have specific favourites - the chocolate fondant, the flourless chocolate cake, the chocolate fondant, the citrus cake, the chocolate fondant - and there's always a go-to recipe of the moment; if you rang me right now and said "I'll be at yours in an hour", there would be a chocolate cake waiting for you (or at least in the oven) when you rang the bell. But is it the best cake ever? Is it MY cake, the cake I can go to my grave being known for? Not quite yet.

Of course, looking for MY cake means I have to make, and taste-test, a lot of cakes that could be contenders. Somehow I manage to cope with this crushing burden.

I made this cake for my brother's birthday (which is around Easter, hence the egg decoration ... I did say I'd been pondering starting a blog for a while) and judging by the speed with which it disappeared, it's a fairly solid contender for MY cake. But the search continues.

Basic chocolate cake (adapted from Donna Hay)

Makes 1 20cm round cake, 12 big cupcakes or 24 mini-cupcakes.

125g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
2 tbs cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate, melted


80g butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbs cocoa

Preheat the oven to 160C and grease and line the tin of your choice. Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Sift the flour and cocoa in and beat until combined. Fold through the milk and melted chocolate and pour into the tin. Bake until cake springs back in the middle and is cooked when you test it with a skewer.

To make the icing, beat the butter until light and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa and beat until combined. If you make the cake as cupcakes, or want to layer the icing in the cake, make double the amount.

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