I have wanted to make this cake for such a long time, and really don't know why I haven't got round to it before now. The recipe was first published in the Guardian here, in June 2008. Why, oh why haven't I made it before now? And indeed, why now after all this time? Well, this is one of the three cakes in this week's Short and Tweet challenge - there are some choices of what to make each week from now on. You can see the January schedule here. So again, thanks go to @EvidenceMatters for the prompt and prod to finally get round to making this cake. I won't be doing the other two cakes for this week though - I don't do coconut and the Saffron Peach cake, delicious though it sounds, relies on almonds for flavour and texture to an extent that I can't really sub them out.
There are some small changes from the online recipe to the one printed in Short and Sweet, and I used the book version - you'll have to buy it to find out what they are, presumably Dan tweaked it to make a better cake before publishing it in printed book form.
The alchemy of the name presumably comes from the making of a delicious, moist, marvellously chocolatey cake (can you tell that I liked this one yet?!) that is very low in fat (only 50ml of fat in the whole cake!) but doesn't taste in the slightest bit 'worthy'.
It was nice and straightforward to make - one of those cakes where it's almost more work to line the tin than make the cake (note to self, buy some of those handy silicon cake tin liners from Lakeland!) but I found that mine needed quite a bit longer for me to be sure that it was cooked. I think that actually, it possibly was cooked at the time specified in the recipe, but I probably left it about 20 minutes longer, covered with foil, to make sure it was done. The moistness doesn't seem to have suffered from this prolonged stay in the oven. The only substitution I made was to use a light olive oil instead of the specified walnut oil, for allergy reasons. Perhaps I did lose a little of the subtle flavour, but at least I could eat the cake!!!
The crumb is quite sturdy, which is perfect for me to take to work. I guess that the removal of fat means that a soft, crumbly crumb is the forfeit. I suppose I could have used some of my chocolate essence to enhance the chocolatey flavours, and maybe next time, but for the first time I just wanted to experience the cake as it was intended. The cake was lovely and chocolatey and I couldn't really taste pears at all, which I guess is the idea. I could detect a slight graininess from the pears though, which I didn't mind, as I knew what it was, but I suppose it might be slightly odd if you didn't know where it had come from.
The day after it was baked it had developed a very shiny surface. Not sure why this was, but it was actually quite pretty. I cut my cake into 16 (anticipating work colleagues not wanting cake at this time of year!) and this means that a slice of cake works out at fewer calories than two digestive biscuits. And who would choose to eat two boring digestives when they could have a slice of delicious chocolate cake instead!!!
So, since this is positively health food I'm also submitting it as my 'We Should Cocoa' entry this month. Chele at Chocolate Teapot is our host for January and the theme is chocolate with a health concious slant. I think this fits the bill perfectly!