May 16, 2010

Cake Baking At A Molecular Level. Mr Valentino and Friends.

I finally got around to doing some baking this weekend.  I decided to try the Chocolate Pound Cake recipe from the Joy of Baking website.

I like the highly precise and technical way they present their cake recipes.  My goal today was to follow each direction to the letter.

The first step was to create a thick paste of boiling water and cocoa powder.  Had to diverge from the recipe by adding an extra tablespoon of boiling water, otherwise there would be no way I'd be able to get the paste to form.  This was then left to cool to room temperature.  I am on a mission to find a cocoa powder in Australia that, when baked, produces a darkly chocolate coloured cake.  I often find that my chocolate cakes look a little anaemic despite starting out so promisingly in the chocolate stakes.

Last night, I watched 'Valentino, The Last Emperor' - a documentary about the designer, his life long partner in business (and love) in the final years of the designer at the helm of his eponymous label.  It was a cavalcade of fashion stars - Anna W, Andre Leon, SJP, Elle, Donatella Versace, Elizabeth Hurley (where is she now?) and various Crown Princesses and muses.  Since I've stopped reading Tatler, I no longer know who any of them are.

Whilst waiting for all my hot ingredients to cool to room temp and the cooler things from the fridge to warm up to room temp (as per the recipe), I revisited some of my favourite scenes of the richly tanned designer and his friends.  When Mr Valentino does deep tan, he does not come up a shade of tandoori.  Ditto Mr Lagerfeld.  In the above photo, the last emperors of haute couture are reminiscing about Mr Valentino's immense body of work.

Progress was slow in regard to getting my eggs and butter to warm to room temperature.  Here we have dairy products out in the sun to warm up (rather than tan).

Back to Mr Valentino.  This was one of my favourite outfits of the film.  It's pink, sparkly and both fitted and voluminous.  Even Andre Leon agreed.

Karl imploring Mr Valentino to NOT RETIRE.  It was a touching scene.

But I had no time to feel the emotion, I had a cake to bake.

Following the precise direction of Joy of Baking, the room temp eggs were whisked into the cooled chocolate paste.

Yes, those dry ingredients were beaten together at low speed before adding the diced butter.

There were precise times for mixing things and how much of the chocolate to add at a time.  There was 'building' of the cake batter and the encouragement of molecular cohesion.

Then there was the matter of baking - the tin was to be covered with greased foil after 25 minutes.  To prevent over browning.

Finally, the cake.  It was well worth following the instructions.  The cake has a light texture, was evenly baked and not too 'domed' - oh and it tasted delicious and almost store bought.  I am a convert to the Joy Of Baking molecular approach to baking.


  1. Looks yum, SSG! I love the Joy of Baking site :) Wish I'd spent my Sunday afternoon making a chocolate pound cake - it would have been nice to have a slice of that to look forward to at morning tea tomorrow at work! Ah well, maybe next weekend, when I have my cooking mojo back... :)

    xx amy

  2. Love this post SSG - I am sure your cake was 11/10 (as per Faux Fuchsia) and certainly much better better than any store bought cake - it looks FABULOUS!! x

  3. I loved the way you intertwined this post SSG.
    PS. maybe you could cheat and just add some brown/black food colouring? hahahah!

  4. SSG may I have a cuppa tea and a small piece please!

  5. tanning your eggs heh heh that made me chortle

  6. I saw Valentino at the movies and loved it. Found it interesting how they didnt show case Valentino's boyfriend at all though and instead implied that Giancarlo is still with Valentino when in fact they havent been since the 80s.

  7. This is such a cute post :) Love it

  8. Thanks for all the kind comments about the cake. You are all welcome to a virtual slice.

    Elise:vinteresting point about Valentino. Thanks for that.

    Oli: thanks for stopping by.

    SSG xxx

  9. The hotter the water and the less (water) you add to your cocoa the darker it should be.
    Or you could try using a dutch process cocoa (which is less bitter)like Droste which means you can add a little more.

  10. Hi Emily,
    Thanks for the tip.

    SSG xxx


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