Sunday, November 14, 2004

The chocolate cake that never should have been

A post by umami prompted me to look through the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller. Something I'm not usually wont to do as the food just makes me envious and frustrated at not being able to learn and recreate the recipes that I know I could if I had the time. This week's feature was Slab Cakes. Basically home-made versions of the kinds of cakes you might buy in a supermarket in rectangular blocks. But GT gave a down-country hokey kind of spin to the whole article. Also, some of them were very prettily iced: meringue frosting, candied lime, etc.

I tried their chocolate slab cake:
butter, chocolate and water - melted and mixed
flour and baking powder - sifted
the ingredients combined, stirred with brown sugar and sour cream and baked.

Maybe the oven was too hot: I used a fan-forced setting instead of ordinary radiant heat. Maybe the recipe was totally wrong(!): Who melts dark chocolate, butter and water??

At any rate, the cake was overcooked on the outside but still soft on the inside. I figured after 45 mins at 180 dC it was done so I took it out of the oven, rested for 3 mins then inverted it on a rack to cool. After 20 mins I wanted to try it, so turned it onto a plate and discovered that approximately 10% of the very centre of the cake was still uncooked; a puddlet of thick brown gooey batter had oozed through the hole made by the cake-testing knife onto the kitchen bench.

Naturally, I was dismayed and a bit disappointed by this result. It also didn't help when my darling and supportive bf L charmingly pointed out, "Your cake's done POOS!" before laughing out loud, pointing and giggling at me. That over-under-cooked battery-brick mass just sat lumpenly before me, unanswering.

It tasted all right but deep in my stomach, I knew no one would eat it. A cake eaten out of Chinese-induced clean-up-your-plate guilt will believe it is worthless.(*) I committed the equivalent of patisserie euthansia and guiltily slid it into the bin.

Footnote: (*) This sentence is modified from a sign at the Teddy Bear Shop: A Stolen Teddy Will Believe He is Worthless.

2 comments:

spottiswoode said...

Hiyee... sorry that ur cake didn't turn out well. from my experience, i thot that fan-forced ovens are usually less hot than ordinary radiant heat. so u probably hv to cook it for longer than the recipe states. that might explain why the inside of ur cake was still soft...

as for why the outside of the cake was overcooked, maybe i can suggest placing the cake on a lower rack in the oven? that might help...

cheers!

David said...

Hi Spottisswoode. My understand of heat transfer from my chemical engineering undergrad days is that fan-forced ovens allow more heat current into the cake batter, therefore you need lower temperatures as the amount of heat energy the cake receives is greater than with a radiant oven. I also don't think placing the cake on a lower rack would work as a convective heat source means that the temperature in the entire oven cavity is the same.

I think it was more because the oven was too hot in the first place.