Chocolate cakes are a staple for celebrations, at least when I’m making the cake. There are few people I know who have a serious aversion to chocolate, so a good chocolate cake is pretty much a safe bet. Plus, I’ve made so many that I can have one completed in an hour. (Have done that once before.)
That’s not to say I get it perfect all the time. Not in the slightest. Because I make more chocolate cakes than any other cake, it means I have more mishaps with chocolate cake. And of late, there have been far too many incidents for my liking. Let me share just two of the most recent.
When I’m in a rush, there’s just no time for creaming butter and sugar, so I go for chocolate cakes that use vegetable oil instead. That way, I don’t have to get out my mixer and I can just dump all the ingredients in one large bowl.
For the first cake, I used an old trusted recipe. Making the cake was actually pretty uneventful. The troubles came with icing it. It was a super hot afternoon and my buttercream icing just did not stand a chance. It was sliding off the cake and splitting. Heart-wrenching, really.
I was so frustrated (heat got to me too) that I just dumped the whole cake in the trash and started again. In my bedroom. Yup, I lugged all my ingredients into my air-conditioned bedroom, whipped up the batter, dashed out to toss the tins into the oven. After the cakes were cooled, I made the icing on my bedroom floor and decorated the cake. The icing piped like a dream. But I was shattered by the time I finished that cake.
For the second one, I thought I’d try and find a better recipe. My old recipe was fine actually, but I wanted a veg-oil cake that was more chocolatey. And then, I stumbled upon Edd Kimber’s attempt at Ina Garten’s (a.k.a. Ms Barefoot Contessa) chocolate cake. It looked promising.
The only hitch was I could only start baking at 11pm at night. I was pretty bleary-eyed throughout the whole process, but finished a little after midnight.
The next day, I brought the cake into the office for a colleague’s birthday. When the cake was cut, it was not light fluffy sponge, but a dense mass. Tasted just fine, but its texture was a cross between a fudge brownie and an eraser. (Check out my colleague’s photo of a slice below.)
Thankfully, no one noticed anything was amiss. (Passed the cake off as an extremely fudgy one.)
When I was home later that night, I scanned the recipe carefully and realised, to my horror, that while I had put in baking powder for leavening, I had clean forgotten the baking soda. One tiny teaspoon of baking soda, and that’s all it took. No wonder the cake didn’t rise. Note to self: baking while tired can be hazardous.
So that’s about it. Will I stop making chocolate cakes? Hell no! Well, maybe I’ll give it a rest for a little while at least. Let some other cakes get their chance at disaster.