Being in self isolation with my elderly mother has really caused me to think about making the best use of our provisons.
Today is her birthday. She keeps her age to herself, but I can share with you that she is in her nineties and it is a very special day that unfortunately cannot be shared by other family members due to Covid19 this year. Luckily the computer allows all the family be part of the day, if only at a distance
I have spent quite a while researching ways of making her a special and delicious cake that would, at the same time, be efficient and make best use of what we actually had in the pantry.
I finally decided on this rich chocolate cake mainly because it does not not need eggs or butter and uses a moderate quantity of flour, which I wanted to preserve for bread making. We had dark cocoa, sugar, vanilla, milk, oranges, olive oil and a recently bought packet of Dr. Oetker powder for whipping cream and some dried cranberries and Brandy in our pantry.
This recipes uses two bowls and just combines the wet into the dry ingredients. Once the measuring of the different ingredients has been done it is so easy to make.
I had thought to split the cake and decorate it as Blackforest Cake but in the end, given we were just two people celebrating, I chose to decorate it more simply, letting the great chocolate flavour be the hero and serve the cream and brandied cranberries on the side. This makes storing the cake to enjoy later so much easier.
There are so many ways to create a celebration cake even in these difficult times by just making the best of what is in your pantry. This basic rich chocolate cake can be served in many ways: as a Blackforest cake with brandied cranberries or cherries and whipped cream and shaved chocolate on the top and sides; it can also be served with your favourite icing (which my mum doesn’t like) or with ice cream and some of the cranberries with the syrup reduced till thick, on the side.
When baked it was an amazingly great chocolate flavour with a good texture that was not too dense. The extra baking powder gave it a good lift and the house was perfumed by chocolate too as a bonus.
I think we need to continue to make the best of these times and create a sense of fun and special times no matter what is in the pantry. We need to become creative and resourceful.
I had no wrapping paper or ribbon so I created a crochet square of “wrapping” that you see covering the box on the table. The raised flower is the bow. I am going to post the pattern in a couple of days for those amongst the readers who are crafty. The square can then be turned into a small pillow that can be kept as a reminder of the day. This is also a sustainable way to wrap presents. The garden that my mother tends so lovingly, provided some lovely pink autumn roses for the celebration
I hope that everyone reading this is keeping in good spirits and using the technology available to stay in touch with loved ones, sharing special moments and especially keeping in touch with vulnerable people in your community.
From our humble home we send our best wishes to you all.
Chocolate Celebration Cake
- 1 cup white sugar
- 200 g Self Raising flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 75g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 450mls full cream milk
- 2.5 Tblsp of vegetable oil ( I used Extra Virgin olive oil that we had)
- 1 Tblsp orange zest
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Cake Decoration Options:
- Powdered Icing Sugar sifted over the top as I have done
- Icing of your choice
- Dark cooking chocolate for shaving
- Whipping Cream
Brandied Dried Cranberries (or Dried Cherries)
- 1 cup dried cranberries (or half and half with dried cherries)
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 Tblsp Brandy
- 1 strip of lemon or orange rind (no pith)
- In a small saucepan add the water and sugar and bring to the boil stirring till the sugar dissolves
- Add the dried cranberries and cook for five minutes stirring
- A minute before finishing add the lemon rind cooking
- When the cooking is finished set aside the cranberries, stirring in the brandy and allow to cool
- Use in a split cake by scattering the cranberries and spooning the syrup over the cake and filling with cream of your choice or
- serve alongside a cake in spoonfuls over ice cream or with a dollop of double cream
Chocolate Celebration Cake:
- Pre heat oven to 160º C Fan Forced
- Line the bottom of a 20cm cake pan and grease the sides with butter then flour. I have used a springform cake pan but any pan of 20cm is suitable.
- Use a large bowl to proceed
- Using a large sieve, carefully sift the sugar, flour, baking powder and cocoa into the bowl keeping a good height to allow air into the mixture
- In second bowl place milk, vanilla extract orange zest and olive oil
- Use a whisk to homogenise the mixture
- The next step requires gentle handling and making sure not to over mix and deflate the air that was brought in
- Add the milk and oil mixture to the dry mixture gently as soon as you have finished whisking, using a wooden spoon and making sure there is no dry mixture left in the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and put into the oven as quickly as you can
- Bake for 40-45mins or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
- When fully cooked remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes
- Then remove from the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating
- I placed a heart shaped cookie cutter on the cake and sprinkled powdered icing sugar over the cake using a seive. I then added more carefully to the center oc the cutter to make the heart stand out. You can decorate in more elaborate ways as your taste or provisions allow to make this a great celebration cake for any occasion
- Serve with cream, ice cream and the brandied cranberries on the side