Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Diving into Mrs. Beeton for a Questionable Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe

I recently mentioned wanting to get a bundt pan to my husband. I don't remember why exactly, but it seemed like something I needed to do, especially after making the most epicly delicious Sweet Potato Cake from an old IKEA cookbook that I bought ages ago and never used until recently. It's actually less a cookbook and more of a guide to great kitchen living, with tips on using scraps and how to sort your produce. It's more of a coffee table book chock full of delicious, Nordic recipes. The Sweet Potato Cake recipe was a huge hit with my munchkins, even with my gluten-free substitute flour. 

But back to the bundt pan.

When I mentioned it, my husband said, "Oh, I have a great recipe!" He led me into the kitchen to his ancient copy of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, a mainstay of the British world, and pulled out a barely legible chocolate bundt cake recipe written on a scrap of paper. 

We’re going out for Shabbat lunch, and I'd offered to make dessert, so make the cake I did. But not before calling and/or messaging him a half-dozen times to verify aspects of the recipe. 

"How much is in a 'packet of baking powder' exactly? We don't have packets of baking powder in America." 
“5 teaspoons of baking powder, seriously? But only 1.25 cups flour? Really?”

"The recipe says milk, but there's no milk listed in the ingredients!"  
"Really, only 1.25 cups flour, really?" 
I'll admit I fudged a bit and doubled the amount of cocoa powder it called for because it just didn't look chocolatey enough. After I got it into the bundt pan and into the oven, I made another half-batch of the batter because I didn't believe it was going to work. I put the half batch in some mini bundt pans I'd gotten and into the oven it all went. 

When I pulled them out, I was skeptical. I took a taste. It's not half bad, for being a questionable scrap-o-paper recipe made with gluten-free flour. It's not as sweet as American cakes, but honestly that's probably a good thing. 

"Let me make it," my husband says. "With real flour."

[Above written before Shabbat. Below written after.]

Luckily, the Shabbat guests loved the cake. It was different, but super tasty. We also checked in with his mum after Shabbat and found out that her packet of baking powder actually contains only 3 teaspoons of baking powder, so that might make a difference. 

Also, over Shabbat, there was discussion about the name of the pan used to make the bundt cake, and Mr. T swore up and down that there was a different name the this mom used for the pan. After Shabbat, he asked, and lo and behold, he wasn't making it all up:

So here's the recipe transcribed, in case you want to make it yourself in a gugelhupf or bundt pan:

"Choc Cake"

1 1/4 cup flour
2 Tbls cocoa powder (original recipe called for 2 tsp, but we asked; it's Tbls)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs (possibly 3, we still aren't sure)
1 packet baking powder (in UK, and the note says, "if not self raising" ... this = 3 tsp baking powder)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease tin.
  3. Mix flour, sugar.
  4. Add mix, oil, and eggs.
  5. Bake for 35 min approx.
  • It turns out self-rising flour is preferred in the UK, but whatever you have should work.
  • I used Cup4Cup Wholesome Flour for this recipe.