Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Project Chocolate Cake - the matrix

So you guys, we made a chocolate cake matrix. You can check it out for reals here! Basically we broke down seven recipes we were interested in as previously reported.

The recipe were:
Dan Lepard's sour cream chocolate cake
David Lebovitz's devil's food cake
Felicity Cloake's perfect chocolate cake
Nigella's old fashioned chocolate cake
Smitten Kitchen's everyday chocolate cake
Add A Pinch's best chocolate cake ever
Skye Gyngell's chocolate cake

J:  Ok, so looking at the matrix what are your initial thoughts?

K:  Ok, the first thing that comes to my mind is...I don't think I'm pro-oil in a chocolate cake. That's seriously the first thing that comes to mind for me. What's your oil position?

J:  Interesting. I don't mind that so much. I mean, sure, butter is great, but I quite like the texture that oil gives cake. I guess my first thought is that lots of fat really makes cake moist and delicious, and I guess I have been trying to figure out what the most important factor is for me. Though I guess there is no single factor

K: Fat has got to be up there. It's got to be way up there. And personally I think some actual chocolate is important. But the fact that only three of seven recipes has real chocolate makes me think that it's not essential for chocolate flavour. I think one of us should make a recipe with chocolate and one without...

J:  You know I was thinking about this recently. As in every day this week. I don't think chocolate is necessary at all. For a brownie that requires fudgeyness, YES! But for cake, no. I make this self-saucing chocolate pudding from Te Cooks Companion sometimes with just cocoa and it is so chocolatey and delicious! I make chocolate ice-cream with just cocoa. I think that chocolate in a cake of the everyday variety I am after is not necessary and I am more than happy to make one.

K: Ok excellent. Let's put this shit to the test.  I agree with you about the chocolateyness of self-saucing pudding, and that has no chocolate anywhere near it. That makes me think that maybe chocolate cake doesn't need it, and it's just my perception that it does. And obviously when the doors of perception are cleansed we can see things as they really are. Or whatever.

Let's talk sugar. Are you a caster, white or brown girl?

J:  Well, I like the depth of flavour of brown sugar, obvs, but to be honest when it comes to baking I just use whatever I am told to or whatever I have on hand, I tend to feel that when you bake the subtletly of sugar flavour is lost so it doesn't matter. But maybe I am wrong. Shit, am I wrong? On the sugar vibe though I have to say that my main concern when I look at the matrix is the fucking quantity! 400grams! 320 grams! These people are kidding me.

K I agree. There are some real sugar fiends out there. They need to lay of the gear.

J Yeah, I confess that when following American recipes I usually use about 75% of their recommended dosage.

K Smart.

What are your thoughts about additions like coffee and vanilla? I suspect these are the sorts of flavours that aren't meant to be noticed, but to make the chocolate aspect taste more chocolatey.

J Yes I agree and I am all for it!

K Ok great. Should we try one recipe with and one without?

J Almost all the recipes have at least one of them. Let's not limit ourselves on this factor. Is there a recipe you are most drawn to? And if yes, is it based on the matrix do you think, or your first contact with it?

K The Felicity Cloake one was my initial favourite, but that's largely a first contact interest. I still like what it's got to offer. Chocolate. Butter. Muscovado sugar. Milk. I like the way it's described as light enough for tea but rich enough for dessert. But when you look at it alongside the others, it does seem like it would be awfully rich. What do you think?

J Yeah, it would probably be delicious, but also very rich, definitely. I was quite attracted to the Nigella one at first, the simplicity, plus my love of her chocolate molten babycakes. But when I look at that in the matrix and see how little cocoa it has compared to the others it looks awfully unchocolatey.

K It sure does. You know, we don't have to be slaves to these recipes. I mean, we've already learnt some things from the matrix. You could double the cocoa in the Nigella cake and see what happens. Or, what about the David Lebovitz cake? I think that one's got a lot of potential.

J Definitely. First, I totally trust that guy! Second, I like how it has all the necessary components in respectable quantities (compared to the others). Plenty of cocoa, enough fat, not stupid amounts of sugar. DL knows whats what, yo!

K For real. And speaking of not stupid amounts of sugar, Dan Lepard has a very reasonable amount in his cake. But a fair whack of honey. And very little cocoa. But a little chocolate. I wonder what it would be like...

J Yeah, it's true, it has some interesting things going on, but I have to say the picture doesn't crab me like some of the others do. Ok, are we going to base our baking on the matrix only? Should we, for science?
K Haha. Crab  you.

J Grab me! I wish I'd intentionally said crab me!

K Oh well. What are you thinking of basing the baking on, outside the matrix?

J Oh, I just mean, can pictures come into it?

K Oh, sure. Sure they can! We're here for a good time, not a long time Mate. We would be fools to ignore an important source of evidence like pictures.

J Ok, still I don't know. I think one of us should definitely try David Lebovitz's cake.

K Agreed. Should we dismiss Smitten Kitchen and Skye Gyngell due to too much sugar?

J Yes, I think so. Also the Add a Pinch one. Too much sugar. I don't even know that website. I just know I liked the look of that cake.
The cake from 'Add a Pinch'. Looks good, right?

K Shit. That looks hot. I'm hoping that David Leb's looks like that inside. Though these photos are just a big tease. Cakes, like people, need to be judged by what's on the inside, am I right?

J So right! I was pretty disappointed by DL's lack of photographic evidence. Lucky I have evidence that he knows how to cook.

K He really, really does.

J But where does that leave us? I guess with Nigella and Dan. I guess Dan's has more of a point of difference to DL's but Nigella...I find her hard to dismiss.

K The woman's got game. It can't be ignored. What about Nigella with extra cocoa?

J Ok, let's do that. Do you want to do David and I will do Nigells. But I am not going to up the chocolate too much, because I am curious about whether she could be right about it. Maybe I'll go up to 65g.

Or 80g.

K Ha.

Next week: The cake!

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