Well, I saw this recipe from The Telegraph for a chocolate cake with a kick of ginger. Sounded good to me so I thought I’d give it a try. First let me check for ingredients. No muscovado sugar but I do have brown sugar. No double cream but I do have evaporated milk. No golden syrup but I do have light corn syrup. No chopped dark chocolate but I do have dark chocolate chips. No dairy milk but I have nut milk. I’m good to go!
Spoiler alert: This essay is about process and not the recipe. I will show you the end product and review the taste. For fans of the GBBO this did not come out as a signature bake, a show stopper, nor would it have passed the technical. I would have to leave the tent!
First of all I pulled together the ingredients for the cake. This cake used oil and not butter and had more sugar than flour which I thought was interestingly different. So I am standing in my kitchen with Google on one hand, a cookbook open to a chart of conversions from Metric to Imperial and vice versa, a calculator, and pen and paper. I have to convert grams to cups and portion of cups, weight to volume. This takes quite a bit of finagling since Siri says one thing and the chart says one thing and the calculator says another thing. Finally I decide on a formula and measure out the cake ingredients. Luckily my liquid measuring cups have ml markings. The batter comes together and is very thin, and there is not a lot of it either. This is to be baked in 20cm round pans which to my measurement were the 9-inch pans. I fit parchment paper, pour in the batter, and bake.
(I have just now double checked the 20 cm measurement and find that it is 8 inches. There is a reason for the “measure twice, cut once” truism.)
The cakes were very thin. Clearly the result of the above mentioned measurement error. But they were raised so I put them on racks to cool. They smell and look good.
While the cakes were baking I had put aside and prepped the ingredients for the ginger caramel as well as the chocolate frosting. But for the frosting I figured the cocoa would make it chocolate enough and did not put in chopped chocolate chips. Boiled (was to only melt) the frosting ingredients and set aside to cool and thicken. Which it did not do. I put the frosting in the fridge. Still liquid. I melted some chocolate chips to try to thicken it which did not really work. So I have fudge sauce for the frosting. Great.
Meanwhile I am looking at the very thin cakes and decide I’ll bake another set of cakes from a tried-and-true recipe, Best-Ever Chocolate Cake (https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2016/02/18/best-ever-chocolate-cake/) that my mom always made. I whip this up. This cake uses a cup of butter and has more flour than sugar. I bake this in two layers in the 8-inch cake pans. Why? I was not thinking properly? I wanted a cake with good height? There was much more batter than the other cake and the 8-inch pans took longer to bake than I expected and I was afraid the edges that were trying to overflow the pans would burn. They didn’t and finally the cakes were done. I now have these cooling on the racks and turn my attention to the caramel.
I do not make caramel. I cannot recall ever making caramel. The instructions did use the word “stir”. This turned into a sauce that did not thicken to drizzle state when cooled. I wondered about that when I was pouring in the ginger cream (ginger infused evaporated milk) and remember almost all GBBO bakers commenting on NOT stirring the caramel while bubbling. Live and learn.
Now I have four cake layers, fudge sauce, and caramel sauce. I put the two thin cakes together by drowning them with the fudge sauce and a few spoon of caramel. I now add the first layer of Best-Ever. This is tall enough and would be too tall with the fourth layer. So I now have to use the rest of the fudge sauce for the top of the third layer. I’m drowning the cake and the sauce is overflowing the cake plate. I busily scoop around the cake and try to spread some sauce on the sides. Then I pour the caramel over the top of it all. It dawns on me that I forgot to add the tiny bit of sea salt to the caramel so I sprinkle that on top. Cake is complete. It looks a mess. And after all that, we don’t even have a slice until the next day. I put it in the fridge overnight.
- I used the wrong sized pans for both cake batches.
- I stirred the caramel.
- The chopped chocolate was essential for the texture and thickness of the frosting.
- The fudge sauce (supposed to be frosting) was absorbed by the thin bottom cakes so they became very dense. It did not saturate the Best-Ever cake layer all the way through so there was a bit of cake texture there.
- The ginger only came through from the sauce on the top of the cake.
- The chocolate was too intense and although very rich did not result in the best tasting chocolate flavor.
- It would be helpful to have a kitchen scale.
- We’ll be eating chocolate cake all week!
Does this ever happen to you? You try something new and are disappointed. It is not certain that it is the recipe or how you carried it out? That does not mean I will stop trying. There are those home bakers who have tried-and-true cakes, pie, cookies that they consistently bake. The only one I have is Best-Ever Chocolate Cake. But I like to try new recipes and they sometimes do not turn out a well as I had hoped. I have a trove of cookbooks, I follow cooking blogs, and the internet has almost everything else. The adventure continues.