At times it begins with a thought; an idea starts to form in my mind. It may have been something I had read, smelt or tasted and in some cases it comes about from having a few egg whites leftover, a small amount of sour cream sitting in the fridge or I just generally have a wave of inspiration wash over me and allow those flood gates to open wide.
Since taking part in Anneka Manning's "The science of baking e-course" which you can have a look at over on www.bakeclub.com.au, I have found myself feeling more confident in trialling out the different recipes that pop into my head. Having an understanding about the structure certain bakes need and the way in which each ingredient plays a vital role was not only extremely interesting to learn about but it also has made me an even more observant baker in the process.
It was this luscious dark chocolate and cumquat maramlade cake that had been weaving its way to the forefront of my mind for a while. Once I was finally given the chance to bring her to life I grabbed at with both hands.
Melted velvety smooth dark chocolate rivers were swirled through feather-light meringue creating that wonderful marble effect that always has me stopping for a moment to admire. With the bowl scraped clean, a cheeky taste of the batter, the timer set. All I could do was cross my fingers and wait. With my notebook on the bench, I quickly scribbled down some words, weights and oven temperature and times.
Allowed to cool, she was then dusted in a fine layer of rich cocoa powder. her fragrance was magnificent. I carefully cut a small wedge and gave a little clap of my hands. Now all that was left to do was to taste. I took my cake fork to the pointy end and as I popped it into my mouth, my eyes closed and I could feel the flavours, the texture, the warmth dancing around every surface of my mouth. The very slight, subtle bitterness of the marmalade peeking through. And just like that, as if by magic, Ben arrived home, eyes wide as he spied the cake on the bench, "can I have some, or do I need to wait until its been photographed?" he said with longing."you can have that piece" I gestured.
As I waited, he too closed his eyes, took another mouthful, looked at me and said with a puzzled expression, "What's in it?" my shoulders slumped ever so slightly as i waited for his verdict once told that it was marmalade... "it's delicious" A sigh of relief. "I thought you were going to say something else!" I replied as he helped himself to another piece.
Two days later all that remained on the plate were crumbs.
Dark chocolate, roasted almond and cumquat marmalade cake.
Makes a 22cm cake
You can use any marmalade you like, I just so happened to have a few jars of cumquat marmalade on the shelf.
180g dark chocolate
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
140g caster sugar
zest from one orange
4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
90g sour cream
100g plain flour
150g roasted almonds
extra 2 tbsp. caster sugar
1/4 cup of marmalade of your choice
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees, fan-forced. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin with butter and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Lay the almonds out onto a baking tray and pop into the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until they have that lovely roasted taste to them. Set aside and allow to cool. Once cool, place them into a processor and blitz until they turn into a meal. Don't go too far though otherwise you will end up with a paste instead.
Pop the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pot of slowly simmering water and allow to melt until lovely and smooth. Set aside. Cream the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs and add the yolks, one at a time to the creamed mixture, mixing well between additions. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until combined. stir through the almond meal, flour and sour cream.
In a clean bowl, pour in the eggwhites and with the whisk attached and the power to low to start with start whisking. Gradually building up speed to medium once there are small bubbles appearing, add in the 2 tbsp. of sugar and continue to whisk until it reaches the soft peak stage.
Carefully fold the meringue through the chocolate mixture in two batches until just combined. Spread half of the batter into the tin and then spread the marmalade over the top, finally finishing with the remaining batter. Smooth it all out with an offset spatula or the back of the spoon and pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes.
Allow to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before removing and placing onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with a fine layer of cocoa powder and serve with crème fraiche, vanilla ice cream or simply by itself.
It can be stored in the fridge for at least 5 days but I really don't think it will last that long anyway.