Monday, 8 April 2013

A few of my favourite things...

This is my first real post, since I actually put a cake together and I'm going to take you through how I did it. Even before I started I was thinking to myself "this blogging is hard work". I had to wash my hands again and again so that I could take photos. I had to keep the mess in the kitchen to a minimum. I have a DSLR but I was scared the whole thing would be coated in a layer of all-purpose flour by the end of this exercise. All the photos are taken with my iPad (which has been coated in a thin layer of flour and cocoa since the day I got it), in my poorly lit kitchen, at night. 

If you're one of the few people who's actually decided to stay on to read this post (thank you thank you, a 1000 times over), here's a cake with a few of my favourite things! 

A few of my favourite things - chocolate... coffee... booze... what's not to like?
Monday morning blues were creeping up on me on Sunday night, and I thought I'd bake a simple chocolate cake for my colleagues - a "morale-boosting cake" I call it. It was 11pm, and I wanted to be in and out of the kitchen and in bed my midnight. I went to my go-to chocolate cake recipe. It's a vegan chocolate cake recipe, on one of my favourite food blogs - Joy the Baker. My version here is not vegan.

I've made this cake several times - it's quick to put together. You don't have to take out your hand/stand mixer, rinse it, wipe it and then wash it again at the end. In fact, you could mix it straight in your baking tin if you wanted to. It tastes great as is, but it's also very easy to jazz-up. The intention was to keep it simple, but I ended up jazzing it up quite a bit. It all started when I realised I was out of vanilla extract. When that happens I usually substitute with a teaspoon of rum. This time I reached out for the bottle of Kahlua instead. 

Once the cake was out of the oven, I decided I want to drench it in a rich chocolate sauce, spiked with a generous glug of Kahlua. 

The cake recipe is simple and very forgiving, and it's perfect if you're new to baking! No fancy ingredients, no complicated techniques, and no special equipment. You'll need two bowls, and a baking tin - 

The Baking Tin 
The recipe calls for a 9" bundt tin. Bundt cakes look very pretty, but I kept it simple and went with a 9" round tin. I greased it with butter and dusted it with a little cocoa. If you decide to add the glaze, then you will want to use a springform tin. 

Steps 1 and 2
Turn on the oven and set it at 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.

Once you've done this, boil some water in a kettle or on the stove top. Measure out one cup of water, and mix-in a teaspoon of instant coffee. Let this cool, while you get on with the rest of the recipe.

The Big White Bowl
Sift and mix with a fork - 
1. 2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
2. 1/2 cup cocoa (the recipe calls for dutch-processed cocoa, but if you have regular cocoa, that works fine too)
3. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (that's castor sugar)
4. 1 tsp baking soda
5. 1/4 tsp baking powder

The Small Glass Bowl 
In the small glass bowl I measured out and then whisked - 
1. 1/2 cup of melted butter (the original recipe is vegan, and calls for any flavourless vegetable oil. I've made it with canola oil several times and it tastes super. This time I went with butter instead, because all I had at home was EVOO, which isn't exactly flavourless. Also, I used regular salted butter. If you use unsalted butter or oil, add about 1/4 tsp of salt to the flour-cocoa mix.)
2. 3 tsps Kahlua (the original recipe calls for 2 tsps of vanilla extract)
3. 1 cup cooled coffee

One Final Ingredient 
50 grams of chocolate chips (these are optional)

The Home Stretch
Take the liquid mixture, dump it in to the dry mix, and use a fork/whisk/spatula to mix everything together. At this point I added in about 50 grams of chocolate chips. You could also mix in some toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or a combination of these). 

Be sure to reach to the bottom and the sides of the bowl as you mix, so that you don't leave any flour-cocoa mix out of the batter. When you pour your batter in to the tin, you can give it another stir to bring everything together. 

The batter is quite thick. I don't think you can make out from this photo, but anyway - 

Pour the batter in to the tin, and bake for about 30-40 mins (The time can vary from oven to oven. If you don't know your oven too well, set the timer at 30 mins and then check for done-ness by inserting a toothpick or knife through the centre. If it doesn't come out clean, you need to bake it a little longer. But be careful, you don't want it to bake too long and dry out).

Once the cake is done, let it cool before taking it out of the baking tin, and serving.

Or if you want to add a little extra oomph, you can do what I did and leave the cake in the tin while you make a rich gooey chocolate-Kahlua sauce to use as a glaze. 

You can tell I'm new to this blogging business, because I don't really have a recipe for the sauce. I know the ingredients I used, but not how much. I just threw in a bunch of stuff that I knew had to taste good together. I took a saucepan and emptied a 200 ml tetra-pack of cream in to it, added 3-4 big pieces of cooking chocolate, some chocolate chips, 2-3 tbl spoons of cocoa, 2 tbl spoons of sugar and about third of a cup of Kahlua. I put the saucepan on a slow flame, and kept stirring until all the chocolate melted. I then took it off the heat, tasted a spoon full, and then went ahead and added a couple of more teaspoons of Kahlua. Remember, the alcohol evaporates when you cook it, so it's not thaaaat much booze. 

I poured the chocolate sauce over the cake, and let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours, and VOILA!

This is an egg-less cake, and is slightly denser than your usual cakes. But that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. However, the star of this post is not so much the cake but the sinful, rich, Kahlua spiked chocolate sauce that just takes the cake to a whole new level. The next time I'm too lazy to make a complicated dessert (I can assure you it will be sooner rather than later) I'm just going to make this sauce, and drizzle this warm sauce over some vanilla ice-cream and garnish with chopped toasted nuts. 

Chocolate-Kahlua cake sitting on my desk, in the office, under bright white light. Please imagine it on a pretty table, in soft yellow light, with a cup of frothy cappuccino sitting next to it. Please!


  1. Let me at that cake!!!!!!! No soft yellow light required - that's tempting enough for me to call the husband to get some kahlua and cocoa from the store. Methinks we're having this for dinner tonight :)

  2. Thank you Momo and Mei's Mommy! I have my first comment! And I think you should go with the vanilla extract version of this recipe. At least for now.

  3. Looks awesome. I'm definitely trying this!

    1. Please do Smriti. Would love to hear about how it turns out!

  4. Hey.. I baked the Kahlua cake by following your recipe to the T and.. a)i loved the conversational tone to your blog and that's what made me read up a food blog in the first place b)I was a 1st timer to baking c)It turned out awesome!! so thanks a ton.. :) and finally d)please continue blogging recipes - for the benefit of your reader's taste buds!!

  5. Thank you so much Roshni! Your feedback is most encouraging... I have so many recipes, and I'm very excited to share all of them. Keep reading, and keep cooking.