30 June 2007

Marie Antoinette was right!

Or, rather, Marie-Therese was, when she encouraged the commoners to eat rich, expensive desserts. I recently procured a copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible, a book I highly recommend. Ultimately, I hope to try every cake she suggests; over the last two weeks, I began that project with the first five of her recipes, in order, and also a few of her cakes later on. We've had almost one cake a night — no mean feat for a family of five.

It was with great pleasure, then, that I came upon an easy vegan gem. Beranbaum loves her butter, and her ingredient-sorted categories include All Egg Yolks, All Egg Whites, and Safe For Passover, but not, for instance, Low Fat (low saturated fat, yes, e.g. meringue). So when I saw a recipe from the '50s — she says it's an original, although I will paraphrase — that was safe for my godmother's birthday (my godmother tries to avoid dairy), I knew I had to try it. It turned out fantastic.

Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven 350°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
until smooth, and allow to cool. Whisk in
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise*.

In bowl of standing mixer with padle (or by hand in a large bowl, I guess), combine dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups (sifted) cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt.
Add chocolate mixture, and mix on low until everything is moistened. Increase to medium and beat 1 minute to aerate.

Prepare two 8-inch cake pans, by (spray) greasing, and then lining the bottoms with circles of baker's parchment, and greasing again. Scrape batter (very liquidy) into prepared pans; it should only fill about 1/3 full (cake expands significantly). Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Having cherries on hand, and having made a cake with brandied cherries earlier last week, I combined some cherry preserves and the brandy-cherry-syrup in a small frypan over low heat to dissolve. After turning out the first cake, I poured a thin layer of glaze over it, so that I could glue the top layer on. I then poured more glaze on the top of the cake, so that little bits rolled down the sides, and lined the outer edge of the cake top with cherry halves.

* Note: I used only 1/3 cup mayonnaise, since I misread the recipe. It worked fine. More will only make it richer. And I'm sure that vegan mayonnaise substitutes, such as Nayonnaise would work just as well. I would even be interested in trying this cake with Wildwood Garlic Aioli — I've had a mayonnaise cake made with garlic aioli before (a plain yellow cake; the cook also substituted rice flour for cake flour to make it gluten free, and it still turned out good), and Khymos suggests that chocolate and garlic might go well together with the addition of coffee. This recipe would definitely be good with some added instant espresso (I'd put in between a tsp and a Tbsp in the first step with the cocoa powder).

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