Tag Archives: home

Time for a perfect chocolate cake

16 Jun
 

 

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It’s Spring time in France and as the flowers open and share their beautiful colours and perfume with the world, we begin to emerge from our homes and taste the first days of freedom, life on the ‘other side’.   

For those days inside the bubble of confinement, when masked-face trips to the shop weren’t so frequent and shelves not always so full, this Chocolate Almond Cake – comprising only a few basic ingredients, has been so easy to prepare and gives that little whoop to the spirits that only chocolate can provide.  And the added bonus – there is NO FLOUR.

I discovered this recipe many years ago, thanks to the Australian chef Stephanie Alexander , but at the time had to drop a couple of the key ingredients (I’ll explain) – and my edited version remains our family’s favourite cake.  If you are a lover of chocolate, it is perfect… 

First up. Let me explain why this cake.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate dessert.  Not hate exactly, but if it comes to ordering the Tarte aux Pommes or Crème Brûlée at a restaurant, I prefer looking up the cheese selection.  Even better, let me flick a few pages back and pore over the starters again: grilled squid, pan-fried scallops, croquetas… Imagining these small plates takes me back to the anticipatory thrill of seating yourself down at a table, excited by the unknown – ready to open that first bottle and savour that first sip.

chocolate

But!  I have a huge love for chocolate (why doesn’t everyone serve a discreet square of dark chocolate with coffee like they do in France?) – and many years ago, to mark a very important occasion, I stumbled upon this recipe.

To be honest, it was the first time I’d ever made a cake.  For the first time in my life, I had a sincere desire to bake because our baby Lilas (our first and only child) was about to turn one.  It was an important, necessary task.  There HAD to be a cake!

But where to turn with this sudden urge to take the leap and Make a Cake?  I picked up my food bible, Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ , and landed on the chapter Chocolate.  Chocolate won me over and so did the recipe’s provenance – it hailed from France’s ‘Reine de Saba’/ Queen of Sheba cake.  Lilas being an Australian-French baby, it felt right.  So was the idea that the ingredients were few and the method uncomplicated – it was a beautifully simple sounding cake.  And it was a perfect fit for a one-year-old’s toddler guests – so long as I dropped the brandy and the coffee.

So here’s the recipe, and apart from reducing the cooking time and adding more chocolate than the original recipe, we have served this same cake for many birthdays since Lilas’ ‘premier anniversaire’.

(p.s. I have not ever since added the brandy or coffee.  For me, spare the confusion, I adore savouring each one on their own)

(p.p.s. If you are a lover of wine like me, you’ll find this cake is a beautiful companion to wine, be it a sticky, sweet Rivesaltes-style dessert wine, a lovely red, a fresh white and why not, a glass of bubbles.  There’s a pretty damn good one that I like to match it with too…

VW cremant

 

Chocolate Almond Cake

(adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Chocolate and Almond Cake)

ingredients:

140g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher )

100g unsalted butter

100g ground (flour) almonds

100g castor sugar

3 eggs, separated

icing sugar (optional for sprinkling)

method:

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius

Line a 18cm baking tin with baker paper

Melt the chocolate on the stove in a double-boiler/ bain-marie

When chocolate has melted add the butter

Stir together when melted and then add almond flour and sugar, mix well

Remove from heat

Lightly beat egg yolks and stir into mixture

Beat egg whites until firm and then fold slowly into mixture, pour into tin

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Bake for 25-30 minutes for a softish centre  (the original recipe says 40-45 minutes but I find the cake is dry and too cake-like)

Cool in tin and then remove

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar or surrounded by fresh strawberries or raspberries …and some sweet or sparkling wine 😺

Et voila!

Kat xoxo

Oz

26 Jan

So how idid it feel to be home?  Wonderful.

One minute you’re here, in a flash you’re there and suddenly and wonderfully, it feels like you’ve never left.  The brown grass is the same, the clean grid of houses is the same, Mum and Dad are at the airport to pick us up and cruise us home, their dog is at the door, all the smells are the same, the beautiful trees are the same, the coffee is a lot better than you know where…  A lot of things have never changed and I love it.

But there is a weird part to coming back and this part is where you fit in with people.  Being away for most of the year means you have to step back and accept the distance from these loved people on an everyday level.  Sure, I make calls home and speak to my parents often, but it isn’t the same and I’ve had to sort of ‘train’ myself to endure the distance by allowing myself to let go.  It’s too hard for me to keep it up 100% in two places at once.  My heart is in both, but I take a step back and act less wherever I am not. Then suddenly, I come back and have to get a handle on my excitement – near-hysteria –  over seeing all these adored people in person again.  This can be really strange.  I act either overwhelmed and vague or like a babbling idiot, wanting to toast every moment with everyone with gallons of bubbles.  Not good for the head.

Look, sorry for the blah it’s hard to explain.  I’ll try and explain it better later.

For now I want to celebrate having new eyes on home.  Images and places I always took for granted seem to be so exotic now!  Australia can be so tres chic – and oh so wonderfully tres kitsch.  I always knew this I guess about home, but now I love it even more.

flying in to Adelaide

flying in to Adelaide

one of many signs around Aldinga beach - a favourite beach of ours

around Aldinga beach – a favourite place

Yellow Flowering Gum

Yellow Flowering Gum

accommodation on a friend's farm, New Year's Eve

accommodation on a friend’s farm, New Year’s Eve

New Year's day 2013, beach car park

New Year’s day 2013

yeah, yeah, a kangaroon crossing.  yawn yawn!

yeah, yeah, a kangaroon crossing. yawn yawn!

class

class

sheep shed

sheep shed

bbq'd sausages and sauce on bread (Lilas consumes a 1000 each Christmas)

bbq’d sausages and sauce on bread (Lilas consumes a couple of hundred each Christmas)

...and this is what Mum consumes

…and Mum consumes this

...and this

…and this (next time K and H!!)

spooky

spooky

oh what the hell, I love this so here it is again...

oh what the hell, I love this so here it is again

road to nowhere

road to nowhere

heading to some of my favourite beaches in South Australia

heading to some of my favourite places in South Australia

Aldinga Beach

Aldinga Beach

could do with this back in France

could do with this in France

The Capri - a much-loved movie theatre around the corner from where I used to live.  'The Mighty Wurlitzer' is played live, each Friday and Saturday night

The Capri – a much-loved movie theatre around the corner from where I used to live. Each Friday and Saturday night, ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ makes its appearance.  As the ads finish, an oompah loompah of noise begins and there, rising up through the floor before the screen, emerges the mighty organ with its pianist banging waywardly on the keys with his legs flying across the foot pedals, providing the pre-movie entertainment.

interior at the Capri

interior at the Capri

still cruisin’ in Adelaide

6 Jan

cruising in Adelaide

cruising in Adelaide

A big Hip hip to this New Year, 2013!  May it be a good one for all and a happy and healthy one.

Just thought I’d say I haven’t forgotten about the blog, just busy cruising the streets in S.A. (South Australia) and lapping up as much quality time as possible, before the annually dreaded departure.  Gotta make the most of it!

But somehow there’s those petite ‘mon Dieu’ surprises that always bring France back to mind…

les geants...

les geants… as seen at the Adelaide Central Market

Back soon…

red and yellow and pink and green…

11 Jun

a peek outside tonight

 

 

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still rockin’

10 May

check out those heels!

So what happened there?

France-Australia-France.  A few days stretched into a few months… and whammo I completely lost touch with blogging.  It wasn’t at all planned – and I didn’t realise how much I’d miss all of this.

Now I’m staying put right here and am so extremely keen to give you a glimpse of everything that keeps me ‘offline’!

It’s been a lot of fun, catching up with everyone back ‘home’ (my one of two) – long-overdue quality time with family and friends, Christmas, tasting Aussie wines, sampling Adelaide beaches, eating out Asian, English spoken all around me, dodging the sun, dodging the mozzies, listening to the magpies and cockies. And then the angst, the dreadful countdown and finally the tears at the airport.  But I am so lucky to have made it there.

…And I am very lucky to be happy here too.  Back into Winter, some snow!, back to the stove, back in my apron, hot foods to enjoy, snails to devour, red wine instead of all thse whites, vines being pruned,  back to the cleaning, back into walking the village with Mat, back to school, back to French!…  Now the flowers are out, Spring has sprung, the vines are budding, we’re nearing the end of the scary time for frost risk, Hollande is IN and Benji’s Picpoul is tasting mighty good in the sun!

Yep, the VW’s wife is back and I hope you are well!

The spring has come running back into my step – and I feel like the dancin’ lady clicking her pointy heels.  Phew.

december to may!

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