January has passed, in a sticky blur of mango and sand. Summer is always like this for me – Christmas whizzes by in a frenzy, then I wallow through the first month of the calendar year, letting the garden, my hair and the lists of postponed stuff and phone calls grow to unmanageable proportions. At heart I’m still on school holidays in January and this feeling doesn’t dissipate, no matter how far from actually being in school. Aside from regular games of slow-motion chasey, the small one and I have mainly lain around, on the beach, in the pool, in the wild grass of our yard, and on the floor of the living room, listening to the pock-grunt of tennis and reading Moo, Ba, La La La forty hundred times or so. The few days I’ve worked have been slow and quiet, long hours of sitting with women while they breastfeed, interrupted only to help plough through the Christmas chocolates.
But now it’s February, the true start of the year. Crammed weeks of delayed appointments, maniacal list-crossing-off activity, actual work, shonky parenting* and a happy happy return to baking. Our poor, neglected oven isn’t going to know what’s hit it. Christmas brought a heavy windfall of recipe books…Jose Marechal’s Secrets of Macarons, Tim Halket’s Five Fat Hens, a book of afternoon slices to drool over (ginger cheesecake, earl grey tea custard, oh my), The Original Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book (!!! clever, clever SF) and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. The latter alone could keep me occupied for months, and to begin – something simple and ferociously indulgent:
455 grams of your favourite dark eating chocolate, I used Old Gold which is only about 50% cocoa
225 grams of unsalted butter
300 grams of eggs (weighed without shells – 5 or 6 large)
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 fan forced)
Grease and line a 20cm springform tin and set aside with a roasting pan
Break up the chocolate and chop the butter roughly. Put them both into a large metal bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Take off the heat and set aside.
Break your eggs into a large glass bowl. Get your handheld electric mixer ready. Place the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and beat the eggs on high speed until they are warm-hot and foamy. Take off the heat and continue to beat on high speed until the eggs are cool.
Fold the eggs gently into the chocolate mixture in two-three installments, folding until no streaks remain.
Pour the mixture into the prepared springform tin. Place the tin in your roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with very hot water (up to about 3 cm up the side of the cake tin).
Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes. In the meantime, butter one side of a piece of foil.
Place the foil over the cake and bake for a further ten minutes. The cake will still look fudgy in the middle – this is good.
Take the cake out of the oven and out of the water bath. Cool on a rack, in the tin, for 45-60 minutes, then refrigerate for a few hours.
When it is nicely firm, very carefully remove the springform side of the tin. You may need to gently run a palette knife between cake and tin first. Cover a plate in cling film. Invert the cake onto the covered plate, remove the base of the tin gently. Lastly, invert the cake onto a serving plate. Slice generously.
Eat. At room temperature it is silken and ever-so-slightly melty. On a hot day, straight from the fridge, it is cold and densely fudgy. We went through two cakes in a week, with a little help from the LMFs. No sugar, no flour. Really, it’s damn near a health food.
*More on this shortly.