I’m kind of obsessed with loaf cakes at the moment. They have a nice homey, everyday quality that says it doesn’t have to be a special occasion for you to still eat cake. Because, there are times (like in the middle of winter) when it’s almost necessary for your mental health to eat cake. If you find yourself, for reasons of health or otherwise, needing to eat some cake, there is no better way to indulge than with this simple, dark, dense and chocolatey loaf cake.
This cake has none of the ‘ta-da’ quality of a celebration cake, but you wouldn’t serve any old loaf cake as a birthday cake. A birthday cake needs to be important looking. This cake is dark, mysterious and unassuming, you cut it into thin elegant slices (sooo French!) and it just kind of quietly creeps up on you how spectacular it is.
It’s good served as a afternoon tea treat but it’s even better served (as we have) for desert with Queensland winter strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Any kind of poached fruit – pears, quinces or any summer berries paired with cream or ice cream would turn this cake into a dinner party worthy desert.
This recipe comes via Marc Grossman, an American expat who lives in Paris, and it’s his New York style obsessive reworking of his French mother-in-law’s family recipe. I’ve re-simplified his recipe because, although following his directions would probably give you a perfect chocolate loaf every time, I’m just not that obsessive about my baking.
The other thing I love about this cake is that the technique for making it is dead simple and requires no fancy equipment. This speaks to me particularly at this moment because after years of faithful service my vintage Sunbeam mixer has just died and I’ve been unable to find a repair person brave enough to try and fix it. In the meantime, I’ve purchased a cheapo hand mixer but it does make any massive cake making enterprises I might want to go into, a bit more of a chore. I’m still not certain if I’m enough of a cake cook to warrant the purchase of a brand new stand mixer (they’re expensive, even if you don’t go for the top-of-the-line extravagance of a Kitchen Aid).
Anyway, enough talk! Simple French chocolate loaf cake – it really is simple and it really is good.
Cake au Chocolat
Adapted from Grossman and Friends.
Makes one 21cm x 9cm x 8cm loaf cake
- 150 grams unsalted butter
- 125 grams dark chocolate
- 1 scant tablespoon of cocoa powder
- 4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
- 150 grams brown OR white sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 100 grams flour sifted
- A pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 150°C (or about 140°C fan forced).
- Grease tin with butter.
- Melt butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a double boiler or in a saucepan over a very low flame (stir until chocolate and butter are just melted).
- Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until combined, then whisk in sifted flour.
- Whisk egg whites with pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold egg whites through cake mix and pour into greased tin.
- Bake for about 60 minutes until done. Check at about 50 minutes. Like most chocolate cakes, this is better slightly underdone rather than overcooked, so be careful not to over bake.
- Rest in tin for five to ten minutes turn out onto a rack and cool.
Serve in thin elegant slices.
This is one of those cakes which is actually a bit better eaten the next day, when the flavors have time to meld.