Friday, January 28, 2022


When I first started learning about baking, I was met with not a lot of support. Quite a few years have passed since, times have changed, but there still seems to be a similar notion of people way too eager to point out imperfections in novice bakers' work without giving any advice. That is something I still struggle understanding, as I firmly believe that learning any new skill requires time and patience, as well as encouragement along the way.
I also believe in celebrating victories, no matter how small they are. After all, who is the authority on the grandness of our success, other than ourselves? Celebrate yourself and your victories, because only you know what it took to get there.
With that in mind, I proudly share one of my earliest creations; perfect for novice bakers and anyone in need of an uncomplicated sweet treat. A supremely soft, lightly spiced chocolate cake, with a freshly made tangy strawberry sauce. Effortless to make, and wonderful to enjoy. Indeed, best served with a tiny dessert fork and a cup of coffee.

For the strawberry sauce
350 grams strawberries, fresh or defrosted
100 grams light brown sugar
15 millilitres fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
For the chocolate cake layers
120 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of salt
120 grams light brown sugar
50 grams strawberry sauce
25 millilitres vegetable oil
150 millilitres warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate glaze
100 grams cooking chocolate (50% cocoa solids)
20 millilitres vegetable oil

Start by making the strawberry sauce, as it requires time to cool down. Place the strawberries in a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the sugar and lemon juice, and mash them lightly with a fork. Set the stove to medium high heat, and let the fruit come to a light boil. Once it starts boiling, mash it into a purée, using either a wooden spoon, or even an immersion blender, for a completely smooth sauce. Add in the vanilla and let it slowly bubble for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked down to about half of the initial volume. Remove from the heat, add in the small pinch of salt, mix well, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the soft chocolate cake, sift the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and ground cinnamon into a large bowl. Whisk very well, add in the salt and sugar, whisk well once again, and set it aside. Take 50 grams of the cooked strawberry sauce and place it into a medium bowl, and add in the oil. Whisk them together very well, and if necessary, use an immersion blender to make the batter perfectly smooth. Once blended, add in the water and the vanilla, and mix again. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and whisk until only combined.
Take a small square baking pan (20x20 cm), and line it with baking parchment. Pour in the batter, tap it lightly on the counter, and level it as much as possible. It is a rather thin batter, so it should distribute itself well. Bake the cake in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the very centre comes out clean. The cake will be very soft, so let it cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then remove it to a wire rack, with the baking parchment still attached, and let it cool to room temperature.
Gently and evenly, divide the cooled cake into three thin layers. This is best done by a thin cake wire slicer, but a serrated blade can also be used. Take the time to do this; it does not need to be rushed. Gently whisk the strawberry sauce, and heat it up to loosen it slightly, for easier spreading. Place the first cake layer onto the cake platter, or back into the baking pan, and spread half of the remaining strawberry sauce on top. Place the next cake layer, and repeat the stacking once again. Place the final layer on top, and refrigerate the cake for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Once the cake is chilled and ready, take it out of the refrigerator, and slice it into twelve servings. Set them aside or return to the refrigerator. Chop the chocolate into fine shards, so it melts easily, and place it into a medium saucepan. Add in the vegetable oil, and melt it very slowly over low heat. It is important to whisk the glaze well so the oil does not show up once it sets. Once again, an immersion blender can be used, but a good whisking help as well. Glaze each serving of the cake, and serve immediately, even before the chocolate has set. Yields 12 servings.