We have weekly lab meetings, in which one member presents his or her work to the group. This year, to accommodate everyone’s busy schedule, we set the meetings for (ready for this?) 7:45 am on Fridays.

Talk about a tough pill to swallow! 😉

To soften the blow I often bake something for the event, but as a result of my cake-phobia, I usually resort to cookies or breads. However, last week I baked a recipe from (gasp) The Cake Bible. Before anyone who knows me goes into shock, let me clarify that this is NOT a real cake. It’s a much safer chocolate bread. The loaf ended on a happy note, but when I was finished baking my poor kitchen looked as if a herd of  elephants had blasted through. I’m not sure why I can make bread, pasta or savory pies from scratch, and my kitchen remains neat and tidy.  Bake a cake, on the other hand, and it’s indoor tornado season (sigh).

(from Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s The Cake Bible)

0.75 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)
1.5 ounces boiling water
1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
5.25 ounces sifted cake flour
6 ounces sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
13 tablespoons (6.5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

Heat the oven to 350F. Prepare a loaf pan (8 x 4x 2.5 inch) by greasing it with butter, covering the bottom with parchment paper, greasing it with butter, and covering the pan with a dusting of flour.

Whisk together the cocoa powder and the boiling water until smooth, then let it cool to room temperature. Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Add the remaining dry ingredients to a large bowl, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend them together. Add half of the chocolate mixture and all the butter. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed to aerate it. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and beat the other ingredients in two additions, beating for 20 seconds each time. Spoon the batter in the prepared loaf pan, smooth the surface with a spoon or spatula.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Mine took 60 minutes). If the cake is browns too much, then protect it by covering it loosely with aluminum foil. If you want to have a nice slashed look on the loaf, make a cut with a serrated knife 20-25 minutes into baking time, when the loaf will be starting to form a central split. Make the shallow cut quickly, around 6 inches long.

Once the cake is baked, allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove it to a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are cake-challenged, this recipe is for you. It’s simple to prepare, and even if it doesn’t look stunning like Johnny Depp, it’s still mighty tasty.  The first bite may seem bland, but the cake slowly dissolves in your mouth – it’s the butter doing the talking – and a very pleasant chocolate flavor warms you up.  The kind of cake that makes you go back for “just another little slice”.  Surely enough,   by 10am on Friday, only crumbs were left over the conference room table.   😉

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