Entry 17: A Fresh Start

It’s been something of a rough time for me at work lately, as I think I mentioned last week. Things are starting to smooth out again and the whole “stress-rawr-argh” stuff is starting to subside a bit, which is nice. Unfortunately, one of my friends had her last week at work this week and she’s moving on to bigger, brighter and considerably better paid things. As a result, I thought I would send her on her way with a delicious cake. This week’s cake comes from a baking book I bought sometime ago; The Clandestine Cake Club.  It’s been a while since I’ve made anything from it (in fact now that I think about it, the last thing I made was the chocolate nut rum cake) so I flicked through it to see if anything caught my eye.

Eventually, I settled on a dark chocolate and amaretto sponge with a few extra bits and pieces. Over to you, glamorous assistant:

I think it's actually impossible to come up with a pun based on "amaretto".

I think it’s actually impossible to come up with a pun based on “amaretto”.

Unusually, the first step of baking this cake involves beating eggs and sugar together, rather than the usual butter and sugar:

WP_20131006_15_43_45_SmartShoot

One day, I’ll actually get a proper camera for all this. I might even learn about things like “exposure”. >.>

Probably one of the most interesting things about this recipe is that it uses amaretti biscuits:

An extremely rare photo of the Koala not eating everything in sight.

An extremely rare photo of the Koala not eating everything in sight.

When I first saw these biscuits, they immediately put me in mind of the pfefferkuchen I made on here a few weeks ago. These biscuits are quite a bit different, despite looking similar. As to be expected they have the signature amaretto taste to them and my tastebuds also picked up a couple of spices in them as well. Nothing as strong as the cinnamon or ginger used in the pfefferkuchen but definitely there. The texture of these biscuits is also quite a lot harder as well. The recipe calls for 200g of them and clearly they’re not all going to fit into the pan intact. Fortunately, I have a solution to the problem:

When it comes to the crunch, use a Koala.

When it comes to the crunch, use a Koala.

When breaking up the biscuits, it’s important to make sure they’re as finely broken as possible. The smaller the fragments are, the easier the sponge will form around them and the cake will bake more evenly. Ideally, something along these lines:

"Hey, I think we missed a few. Want me to get the sledgehammer?"

“Hey, I think we missed a few. Want me to get the sledgehammer?”

…not until it’s been properly washed in the kitchen sink.

Once the biscuits were broken up, it was time to get to work on the sponge itself. The sponge is fairly similar to that found in banana cake or carrot cake. As such I thought this recipe would use sunflower oil or something similar but instead it has a much better idea:

It's like the lab in Breaking Bad, except with delicious cakes instead of crystal meth.

It’s like the lab in Breaking Bad, except with delicious cakes instead of crystal meth.

In the bowl are the eggs and sugar from earlier, together with 200g of ground almonds. In the pan is the butter but it’s been melted down. I think this is the secret to it as it gives the cake mix a slightly oily texture when putting it all together but as the cake heats up through the baking, you don’t have the same oily texture at the end. The flour quickly followed the molten butter into the bowl and it was time to get the dark chocolate ready:

Cautiously chopped chocolate chunks. Try saying *that* after a few glasses of amaretto.

Cautiously chopped chocolate chunks. Try saying *that* after a few glasses of amaretto.

The cake was really starting to take shape now and I had a good feeling about it:

Almost there....

Almost there….

The finished cake...or is it?

The finished cake…or is it?

As you can see, the finished cake was looking really good at this point. However, I was slightly concerned that it was possibly a little overbaked. The top didn’t seem very spongey, although the sides were fine and the skewer went in and out cleanly. Then I had a brainwave – I still had quite a lot of amaretto left over, so I might as well make some icing with it. I trimmed the top of the cake very slightly and much to my relief, the inside was very spongey and light as I had hoped. With the icing, I used the same method as I did for the father’s day chocolate cake. The method essentially involves adding a small amount of butter and amaretto liqueur, then pouring in unholy amounts of icing sugar. While this method allows you to get the icing exactly the way you want it, you do tend to end up with a surplus of the stuff:

"I'm going to need a spoon, a snorkel and a swimming costume."

“I’m going to need a spoon, a snorkel and a swimming costume.”

Then came my friend’s leaving day. She’s been a keen follower of the Koala’s antics and often gave me the verbal push I need to bake something when I haven’t been in the mood. As such, I thought it’d only be fair if she got to meet the star of this blog in person:

*koalahugs*

*koalahugs*

 The cake turned out very nicely according to the feedback I received. The sponge was moist and fairly light, although I think the chocolate chunks could have benefitted from being broken down into smaller sections. The icing turned out very nicely as well.

To Marie-Claire – I really hope things go well for you in your new job and that you’ll stay in touch with all of us. =)

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