This is a Chocolate, Apricot and Hazelnut Cake that I made for friends last weekend. It was my first attempt and it came out really well which means it can now be added to my list of signature cakes. YAY! I adapted a Woman’s Weekly recipe so that I could make it gluten free. It would be amazing to be able to decorate my cakes and have them look like works of art. To that end, I started simple and decorated this cake with real Passion Fruit flowers.
Baking makes me happy. More than eating the end product. It is true! Okay, let me qualify that sentence, I would eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could but life balance, living best life and all does not permit me to. The pure joy in eating cake is that it is home made, fresh and delicious. It has to be moist and accompanied by an appropriate beverage.
I enjoy the process of baking. Sure, there is a recipe to follow but there is also the creative element of figuring out if the flavours and given quantities will work. Should I add more cinnamon? Water or milk if the cake mixture looks like it might come out drier than expected. Less sugar or more flour, oil or butter, pecans or walnuts and definitely toast nuts before adding them to the cake mixture.
Going shopping for the ingredients is fun, especially if it is a new recipe. Tis the only time I enjoy supermarket shopping in Melbourne. Once the ingredients are home, I wait a few days to feel just right to make my cake. One of the most important ingredients I add to my cakes is Love. If I am not feeling it, the cake never comes out quite right or the oven misbehaves. Nobody likes being in Disappointment Central so I wait patiently until I am ready.
On the day, like a brand new canvas and artist’s studio, the conditions have to be just right. No dirty dishes, no-one being helpful in the kitchen (you may stay and converse whilst seated with your hands tucked away), eggs sitting at room temperature. I have just realised that I do not usually have music on even though music is a huge part of my everyday life and I love to dance. The focus! The intensity! I had no idea until I started writing about this that I am like that.
Wooden spoon (that is only used for stirring cakes) and all other utensils are placed on the kitchen bench along with the ingredients. Yes, I use a wooden spoon and stir my mixture. No electronic gizmos for this baker.
Then a symphony starts playing in my head. Perhaps that is why I don’t have music on in the background. Hmmmmmm!
Ingredients go into the dedicated mixing bowl and are mixed with utmost care. Over mix and you have a dense, chewy cake but under mix and you may have an “eggy” cake.
Cake mixture is spooned into the greased and baking paper lined tin. Tin is placed in the centre of the pre-heated oven and the timer is set. All the processes involved from shopping to testing the cake when the timer goes off are important. The moment when the cake is cooling on a rack and the house smells of baking goodness is indescribable. Such a sense of achievement. Is that how a writer feels when their book is in print and they have a copy in their hands?
I derive pleasure from watching friends and family enjoy eating my cakes.
I think the key ingredient is Love and the second component is the hand mixing. If you have eaten one of my cakes, then you know. If you haven’t, then have a go at making a cake yourself and you will find out.