It’s not often that I crave cake. Usually I crave salt or chocolate, and indulge in a manic burst of crisp-scoffing or jump head-first into a box of Ferrero Rocher (my guilty pleasure). This weekend, I was determined to bake a cake. Of course, I needed to incorporate chocolate in there somewhere, seeing as I have literally piles and piles of bars lying around my house.
My husband often reminds me of this.
‘Honey, did you know you have five bars of ‘Madécasse’ on the dressing table?’…’Yes dear’.
‘Honey, did you mean to leave that bar of Duffy’s on top of the fish tank?’…’Yes dear’.
Having spent several hours pouring through my cake books, I came across a delectable recipe for Paul A Young’s Torta Gianduja in The World’s Best Cakes, by Roger Pizey . If you are wondering, Gianduja is a paste consisting of chocolate, hazelnuts and sugar and is pronounced ‘Gi-an-doo-ya’.
Roger Pizey is a renowned Chef and has worked alongside Marco Pierre White, who wrote the forward for his fabulous book. Marco describes him as ‘One of the finest pastry chefs Britain has ever known’, and going by his recipes, I couldn’t agree more.
So, on to the business of cake-making. This is a large and very rich cake, which will comfortably feed twelve peckish people or eight piggy ones!
Paul A Young’s Torte Gianduja
160g butter at room temperature
180g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids, Paul A Young uses Valrhona Guanaja, but I used Pacari Raw Organic 70%)
65ml hot water
60g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Frangelico or Amaretto (Frangelico is a hazelnut liquor, whilst Amaretto is an almond based liquor)
260g light muscovado sugar
4 eggs separated
150g ground hazelnuts
A pinch of well-crushed Maldon sea salt
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 2 ½/160oC/310oF and line an 8 inch (21cm) round cake tin.
Melt the butter with the chocolate in a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, on a low heat, stirring constantly.
Pour the hot water into a bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder until there are no lumps. I found that the cocoa powder and water mixture became a sticky ball, instead of a paste, so I added a little more water to make it ‘whiskable’. Then add the vanilla and the liquor.
Add the cocoa mixture to the chocolate and butter. Mix well to make a smooth batter.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar, until thick and light in colour. Now, as the recipe does not give you the size of egg required, I used medium eggs, and found the yolk/sugar mixture was slightly too thick to whisk. So I added a splash of water to the egg yolk mixture, to enable me to mix it properly.
Then pour in the chocolate mixture and add the ground hazelnuts. Fold well until fully incorporated.
In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt, until you have soft peaks.
Gently fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon.
Pour into the cake tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes. I found that the centre of my cake was very soft (which I didn’t mind as I like my cakes squidgy, but if you like yours cooked through, you can leave in the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.
Serve on its own, with a cup of strong coffee or as suggested in the book, with a dollop of sweet mascarpone (mascarpone cheese mixed with icing sugar).
Et Voila! My cake and sugar fix is fulfilled, and not a Ferrero Rocher wrapper in sight.