The rich scent of freshly baked chocolate cake wafting through the house is mesmerising, and reminds me of the sweet, sweet memories my parents gave to me. Staring at the potted geraniums through my kitchen window, I'm transported to summertime weekends in the 1960s and the front porch of my childhood home.
My mother is inside, baking, as always. Dean Martin's 45 RPM record, Memories are made of this', is playing on my brother's stereogram and mum is singing along. It's one of her favourites of Dino's — the background music having deep, deep connections to 'the homeland', Magyarország.
You see, after the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the music from the number one hit was adapted into a song known as Honvágy-Dal (or The Song of Homesickness), sung by Boros Ida.
I still have (and treasure) my mother's LP record which includes the track by Boros Ida, indeed we played it again and again at mum's wake. Over the years, my parents had explained its significance to me. A little digging has confirmed that the song was played regularly on 'underground' radio stations, when the names of those who'd been confirmed to have escaped the country were broadcast (my own family being among them).
Honvágy-Dal was a song of protest against the communist movement (the philosophies of which my father hated with a passion!). It also became something of an anthem for those who'd left everything behind (including extended families and all of their belongings), fleeing to freedom across the four corners of the globe.
The lyrics, roughly translated to English, speak of everything in the new land being strange; and mention the moonlit summers and geranium-lined window boxes from home.
Nostalgic thing that I am, I cannot help but weep bittersweet tears whenever I play either of these songs. ❤❤
However, please forgive me, for I have digressed just a little... I was going to tell you that, whilst ever mum was in the kitchen, my father was always outside pottering — pruning roses or grapevines, mowing the lawn, or tinkering in his garage with items he had foraged at the local tip. My sister was busy in her bedroom, reading books, putting curlers in her hair, or drawing pretty female profiles with high cheekbones and bouffant hairdos in her sketchbook. Meanwhile, I'd be outside on the porch, playing with the dog.
Sooner or later, mum would call us all to come into the kitchen to enjoy the spoils of her baking, which would be washed down with a glass of deliciously cold milk. A sütemény és hideg tej kész van, gyertek! Dad and I would bolt inside, meeting my sister at the hallway. We'd gather happily around the kitchen table, laughing and chatting as we ate. My older brothers, who were both out chasing girls, really didn't know what they were missing!
Artisan baker that she was, my mother's repertoire included Gerbeaud slice, walnut torta, cocoa spirals, and honey cake, among other things. Dense chocolate cake wasn't one of her more frequently-baked goods, but whenever she made one, it was always good.
I've seen numerous versions of a recipe for Chocolate Cloud Cake, originally by the late Richard Sax, on various blogs and web sites across the internet and have adapted and amended the ingredients to suit my own baking style and tastes. My version has less sugar than some of the others and there is no wastage of egg yolks. I've included some macadamia oil for a deliciously different flavour.
The rich, dense taste is reminiscent of a chocolate filling my mother used to make for her wafer slices. Enjoy it... preferably at the kitchen table... with a glass of milk.
CHOCOLATE CLOUD CAKE
100g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
a little extra butter, melted, for brushing the pan
1/2 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons vanilla infused caster sugar, extra for dusting the pan (optional)
285g dark chocolate callets (54.5% cocoa solids)
1 tablespoon macadamia oil (or vegetable oil)
6 free range eggs
2 tablespoons cacao powder
thick clotted cream or Greek yoghurt, to serve
raspberries or pomegranate seeds, to decorate
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the base and sides with baking parchment. Brush the paper with a little of the melted butter and sprinkle with the (extra) caster sugar, if using. Shake out any excess sugar. Set the pan aside.
Combine the chocolate callets and the butter in a large Pyrex bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir the chocolate and butter until both have melted. Mix until smooth. Remove bowl from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the balloon whisk on a stand mixer, whisk the whites until they are light and fluffy, then gradually beat in 1/4 cup of the caster sugar, beating well until stiff peaks have formed.
Meanwhile, to the bowl with the egg yolks, add the cacao powder and the remaining 1/4 cup of caster sugar. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and light. Now mix the yolk mixture into the chocolate and butter mixture, ensure the ingredients are well combined. Stir in the macadamia oil.
Gently fold half of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites, folding the mixture until the whites are just incorporated. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top gently with a spatula or palette knife.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the top of the cake has risen, is starting to crack and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove the tin from the oven and place it onto a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool completely before loosening the sides of the springform tin. The cake will fall beautifully as it cools. Store the cake in an airtight container.
Serve sliced with clotted cream or thick Greek yoghurt if desired. The cake is best served with a glass of milk! Serves 8-10.
Tell me dear readers, do you enjoy a glass of cold milk? Have you ever tried it with a slice of chocolate cake?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes, postcards and morsels from my adventures, conversations with cookery writers
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.