Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cake…fruit. Together? Oh yes.



On last month’s camping trip with P squared, I brought along the Autumn issue of the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine to leaf through while lazing in a lawn chair and drinking a vodka cooler. (Trust me; it was every bit as relaxing as it sounds.) I always enjoy the Autumn magazine; fall is my favourite season and the food is fantastic, all root vegetables and roasts and soups and stews and spicy desserts and cider. Mmmm, cider.

But I digress. The magazine had an article featuring fruit-based desserts, and one of them was a chocolate applesauce cake. I scoffed aloud about the heresy of such a fruity inclusion in the temple that is chocolate cake, and was mildly rebuked by my friend, who argued that it sounded delicious to her, and in fact her mother had spent her entire childhood hiding fruits and veggies in desserts, and she and her three sisters were none the worse for it. I let it go, flipped the page and forgot about it in the throes of food passion.

Until late last week, when I was trying to think of a dessert to make when P squared came for dinner on Tuesday night. That was when I remembered the half-jar of applesauce in my fridge, left over from a delicious oatmeal-applesauce loaf that I had made last week (and should blog; the other half is in my freezer and it’s yummy AND photogenic). I dug out the magazine, flipped to the recipe and realized I had all the elements already in the house. Apparently the cake was begging to be baked. So I baked it, during the commercial breaks on Monday night’s episode of Heroes. I could not get my egg whites to beat to soft peaks for the life of me. I can only conclude that I didn’t get my beaters clean enough after beating the yolks, oil and sugar together. I crossed my fingers, folded the whites into the rest of the batter gently, and tipped it into the bundt pan. And waited.

The recipe was written for a layer cake, but as I had no intention of making icing, and I only own one nine-inch round cake pan (something I really have to remedy, soon) I used the bundt and increased the baking time from 30 to 50 minutes, at which point I had a beautifully risen cake that, thanks to my canola oil sprayer, came out of the pan with nary a hitch. I placed it on a rack to cool and went to bed.

And no, the cats did not eat it. I’m fortunate in that they don’t really care for human food; if we had a dog I could not get away with that sort of thing. In any event, I placed my gorgeous cake in my glass cake dome and gazed upon it, and realized that as pretty as it was, it would need some sort of adornment. I could have just dusted it with cocoa powder, or icing sugar, but I took stock of my cupboards and realized I had just enough icing sugar to make a cocoa glaze recipe I found on the Hershey web site.

The glaze made just enough to cover the top of the cake and drizzle deliciously down the sides, and it was very sweet, but also very chocolatey, which was the point of the exercise. When we cut into the cake Tuesday night the tender crumb blew me away. It sliced stunningly and made for a beautiful presentation. The glaze upped the “fancy dessert” factor above the humble origins of the cake, which was moist but not overly rich, with a good chocolate flavour and not too much heft. It was dense, but also light and fluffy without being too crumbly. No one would use the words “decadent”, “intense”, or “death by chocolate” to describe it, but by the same token it’s a cake about which you wouldn’t feel badly having a slice for breakfast. Or with afternoon coffee. Or at midnight, straight from the platter with a knife and your fingers. It would make a stellar birthday cake for kids, too – what with the fruit-hiding and all.

Thumbs up.

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