Flour less cakes are so easy to put together most new home bakers don't realise. Flour just provides body to the cake and the actual flavors are brought in by other ingredients. Yes the airy and porous character comes from white flour but if you have been away from white flour for as long as me you would love the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour and the rustic character provided by Ragi in the cakes. Nut meals are great substitute for cakes especially if you are baking a dark chocolate cake. I have been baking loaf style flour less cakes for the husband but I realised I haven't posted the recipe yet when some friends asked me for the recipe. I had baked this cake and iced it minimally with coffee flavored butter cream for a very dear friend of mine Varsha Tiwary who writes Wholsome Options.
The cake with dark chocolate and coffee was planned keeping in mind Varsha's favorite flavors but I was pleasantly surprised to see her kids Adi and Ana loving it, being excited for the cake while I 'iced' the cake in front of them on demand. They wanted to see it happening. We know how kids love cakes and beautiful looking cakes all the more. I had planned a beautiful cake with a chocolate lacy collar, but as the cake was taken to her place along with lace collar drawn on butter paper strips, it all melted in Delhi heat and couldn't stick to the sides. But who cares when there is so much excitement...
Talking about flour less cakes, they are easier when you aim for rich chocolate in the cake more than fluffiness. I make a lemon cake with almond meal as well and that turns out fairly fluffy. That recipe will be shared later sometime. I just wanted to communicate that flour less cakes are no scary monsters to handle.
Actually I was taken aback when a lady Chef of a five star establishment recently was asking a group of us bloggers and home bakers whether we bake flour less cakes. As if it was some rocket science and we didn't have an idea of rocket fuel. I was miffed at this question and was amused secretly when the flour less cake arrived at dessert time. The cake was so offensively eggy that no one had it after a couple of spoonfuls. But that is another story.
Look at this cake, the picture taken by my cellphone camera as I forgot to carry my camera to Varsha's place. Two excited kids around a casually dressed up cake makes you believe in real food being much much better than the artificial colour of cartoon faced or theme cakes.
Coming to the recipe, I have been baking this Torta Caprese many times with small variations and love the result every time I do it. Here is how I did it this time...
dark chocolate 500 gm (any brand you like, darker the better)
almonds and walnuts mixed 150 gm
sugar 100 gm
vanilla bean 1
(you could use vanilla powder or real vanilla extract too, but you need good vanilla, not essence)
butter 100 gm
cocoa powder 1/3 cup
eggs 5 large
- Powder the sugar along with chopped or scissor cut vanilla bean.
- Powder the nuts together in the same mixer. Keep aside.
- Chop the dark chocolate in small bits, I had kept the dark chocolate slab at room temperature for a day and it cut like pumpkin, Delhi summers I tell you.
- Line the baking tins with parchment paper, keeping a margin above the tin rim so you can pull out the cake easily. No need to grease it.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in double boiler. Whisk together along with cocoa powder till smooth and shiny.
Break the eggs in a separate bowl, whisk lightly. Add the lightly whisked eggs one by one, add the powdered vanilla and sugar and whisk them all together. It will be a dark dark gooey mix.
Add the nut powder to the batter now. I normally sieve it into the bowl so any small bits are prevented form going into the batter. I personally don't like nut bits in a nut flour cake. Whisk together again, but not too much.
Pour into the lined baking tin, I baked a 7 inch diameter round cake and a small 5 inch thinner cake for the husband. You can use any convenient size of tin or bake several small cakes or cupcakes.
Bake at 170 degree C for 40 minutes on the middle rack, keep checking the cake after 30 minutes if your tin is large and height of the cake is lesser. The margins should look dried up and the center of the cake should rise and get firm. The skewer test doesn't work with this cake as the large amount of dark chocolate keeps it gooey even when the cake is cooked. You will see a few cracks on the surface too.
Take the cake out and let it cool. The center will come to level and you can try loosening the edges by lifting the parchment edge. Invert the cake in a plate when cool and peel off the parchment very carefully.
Let it cool completely before applying the butter cream icing.
Ingredients for butter cream icing..
butter at room temperature 100 gm (salted or unsalted white, whatever available, white butter is preferred when the cakes is fruity)
powdered sugar 3-4 tbsp or more if you feel
instant coffee powder 1.5 tsp dissolved in 2 tsp hot water
Whisk the butter with a wire whisk until completely creamed and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and whip again to imbibe. Add the coffee and incorporate again by more whipping.
Cover the cake from all sides using this butter cream.
To decorate I used dark cherries. I knew kids would love it and it will still be an adult cake. I melted 1/3 cup of dark chocolate in cup and coated the cherries in it before arranging them on the base margin. On the cake margin the cherries sit by themselves owing to the butter cream consistency. Though the butter cream started turning soft and melting owing to the higher room temperature...Delhi summers again.
I had poached some strawberries with balsamic vinegar to soak the cake with, butter cream icing was done after I realised the kids were expecting an iced cake :-)
So I just poured the poached balsamic strawberries around the center cherry. The kids swooned and I felt immense pleasure at seeing kids in today's environment swooning for something so simple, real and wholesome. Wholesome options for everyone I say.
I had also made a dark chocolate collar for the cake, but transportation and then the decoration in front of curious kids left the collar melting sticky. It couldn't transfer on the butter cream icing. You would see a small part or the cake's margin with smudged collar. No one cared.
The cake was cut lovingly...
Was enjoyed by all. Pictures were shared with more friends and then came the request to share the recipe. More than the recipe the togetherness, the pleasure and some great time spent giggling, yapping incessantly and then some shopping too....
The balsamic poached strawberries were a perfect foil to round off the dark chocolate flavors with mild sweetness. The icing was also very mild sweet, hint of coffee to just like a faint whiff.
The flavors rounded off well.
And this whole exercise was pure bliss, immense therapy for me. Trust me.