I cook when I am happy, I cook, when I am sad, but I cook mostly, I want to be alone, I find comfort in them.. The familiar smell of spices, the crackling of cardamom and cinnamon calms me… I feel like I am home, I am in my domain.. I could spend all day in my kitchen without being noticed with the interim humming of the songs my mother would sing while cooking and though I do not remember the words, the tune is still very familiar… Sometimes I just like to see my pots and pans on the burner, the ladle gently swirling across the sauce, just enough to create ripples, they sooth my senses.. Cooking something, is just making something nice but re-living the memories along with them… For me every food has a specific memory, if it is luchi aloor torkari, it has to be my childhood Sunday morning, Mangsho bhaat, sunday Afternoon, peyanji, rainy season summer holidays and the list is endless… Chocolate cake has a special thing to it as well..Whenever, I bake chocolate cake it is like being back in London, on a nice Sauraday morning, daddy and I in our beautiful, spotlessly white kitchen and and our pretty Bosch oven (those were meema’s pride a.k.a mother’s) all set to bake for the week.. My dad loved baking, he still does, and he use to make such wonderful cakes, simple ingredients, strong flavours, As a child and then growing up in London, I loved them..
With daddy, one of the many happy winter afternoons
Lately, I have been thinking of dad a lot, I mean, it is not like I do not think of him other times but lately I seem to miss him very much… I have always been a daddy’s girl and he has been always there for me.. He is the kind of daddy, you could talk to for hours about anything under the sun and I know it is silly, but I use to and I still do believe that he had a solution for everything, for every problem, for every issue and all I have to do is perch on his knees and go “daddy I need your help”.. Oh well except now that we live in different continents and different time zones, I have to satisfy myself with the phone. One thing Daddy always taught me was, Always see the glass half full and tomorrow is another day, new sun rise, new beginning and this lesson has become a lifelong motto.. Lately, Dad has had his share of issues, some he would share with me, many he would let go by, and just say, there is always hope and things happen for a reason and reason itself will figure it out… I guess he does not want to unnerve me… Anyway, coming back, since I was missing daddy so much, I decided I had to cook, I had to cook something to be reminded of him, to feel his presence, to reassure I myself that he is right here next to me and nothing better than a chocolate cake with a beautiful strawberry filling… so here is what I did… I took one of my favourite cake recipes by Martha Stewart and got my self in the act.. It is easy, it is quick, soft and scrumtious, but mostly, it smells of Daddy..
chocolate cake with strawberry filling
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
It is actually quite simple if you follow the steps correctly. Start by preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Then in a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in chocolate and vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pans 15 minutes; run a knife around edge of each pan, and invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Now here I slightly deviate. Her cake says it to fill it up with ganach, but daddy would not like ganache, he would says “darling it is too sweet for me, why not add a fruity flavour to balance out the chocolate.”
I start by preparing a strawberry compote, it is very simple…
- 500gms (1.1lb) of strawberry, nice red ones
- Caster sugar 1 cup
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice..
, Over medium heat, combine 2 pints of the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the fruit is soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.Remove from the heat and cool. In a blender Puree the strawberries until smooth.Turn into a mixing bowl, and add the remaining sliced strawberries.Mix well. If you have a good quality strawberry jam or the ones made at home you can add about 2-3 table spoons, gives a ticker consistency and not all watery…
Set a rimmed baking sheet upside down on a work surface. Place one cake on sheet, and spread top with compote Place second cake on top, and now for the decor bit… I happen to have kiwi’s at home and they go great with chocolate.. Though a bit laborious, I cut them in to tin round slices, like cucumber and covered the cake .. The dark brown of the cake and the green from the kiwi just make the right blend…
The cake did not physically bring my daddy , nor did he astral travel but it kind of gave me this comfort that daddy is always with me, if not physically, then through my food, through it’s familiar smell and its taste… Love you daddy…….