As I type this, I’m sitting in at the dining table, sipping a warm chamomile (my new favourite drink, it appears. What can I say… I lead a rock’n’roll life) and eating my usual breakfast, plain yogurt with homemade muesli. Today, though, Scottish strawberries and raspberries have also found their way in the bowl. I’ve worn sandals for the past 3 days in a row. My usual make up makes me look pale, because my face is lightly tanned. In other words, the unpredictable British summer is here, and, to my shame, today’s recipe is conspicuously un-summery. Oh well. It’s a chocolate cake, substantial, moist and flavoursome. Our oven broke in April and for weeks I couldn’t bake anything. At the time, I was also going through my handwritten and cut out recipes, organising them in a ring binder. I found lots of recipes I’d drafted or saved from magazines years ago, and never made. After months of not feeling like experimenting much in the kitchen, a rush to bake my way through the ring binder got me. My birthday was coming up, so I picked two recipes that I’d be able to prepare in advance, that would be easily transportable in plastic boxes, to bring to the office on the day. One was this. Luckily, a new oven arrived just in time. I jumped on the chocolate and rye flour combination bandwagon, which seemed to be mentioned everywhere this past winter, and liked it.
As I mentioned above, my birthday happened, a few weeks ago now. So much unexpected stuff happened in my life since I turned 27 last year, I almost feel less experienced and prepared for what’s ahead of me. Which, thinking about it, is probably because the ‘what’s ahead of me’ used to be a lot clearer a year ago than it is now. There has been a lot of change, compromise, rearranging and reassessing my own expectations, hopes and circumstances. It has been difficult, not least because of what I’ve inflicted upon others with my choices. Unprepared and inexperienced, perhaps, but overall more resilient, more aware of my own faults and thoughts. All of this, together with being handed over responsibility for a work project with a crazy deadline, meant that my stress levels have gone up, my brain power down, and everything has had to do with a much less energetic Roberta. I’m not complaining, I like being challenged and learning the hard way as a result. It takes some adjusting to, but it’s worth it. So, to cake, summer, unseasonal recipes, hard lessons, life and sandals. Happy birthday to me!
Grease and dust your cake tin, and turn the oven on to 175°C fan. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. In the meantime, bash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, discard the outer pod and stringy bits, and add the seeds to the chocolate mix. Once everything is melted, take away from the heat and leave to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Add ground almonds and chocolate mixture, and mix until evenly combined. Add the rye flour and baking powder last. Quickly stir to combine, then pour in the prepared tin and bake for 35/40 minutes. Start checking after 25 minutes if the tin you’re using is wider than mine. You want to take the cake out when it still has the tiniest (and I mean tiniest) wobble in the middle. Also, the sides of the cake should be shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool before unmoulding, and take care when doing so as the cake is soft and tends to break.