March 11, 2010
One Year On And A Chocolate Mud Cake
Through My Kitchen Window has been in the blogosphere one year today. Funny because usually people say time goes faster as one gets older. Generally I agree. However when it comes to my blog, I feel rather differently. I feel it has taken an eternity to get here. An awful lot of time has been invested in putting together many of my posts. Still, no one is holding a gun to my head or threatening to fire me because I have exceeded the deadline.
Questions niggle at me. What was it that made me commence a blog? When I commenced TMKW what was I hoping to achieve? Have my expectations been fulfilled? How do I still feel about it? Do I want to continue? Where would I like to see TMKW in one year from today? As a trained counsellor I do know the right questions to ask. As the client, I am most curious to what my answers may reveal.
What was it that made me commence a blog? I had actually been contemplating starting a blog three years earlier, but I was scared and "terrified" of the computer. All I could see was the 'delete' button and I felt certain that I would wipe all my work away in an instant. One year ago however, out of frustration I started because I figured it would be the perfect way to understand and learn how to use the computer. And if I wiped away everything, hopefully I would know what I did wrong and not do it again.
The other reason, and the most important reason, was my eldest daughter had moved out of home and I felt it would be the perfect way to keep her connected to the family and the events in our lives. For example, our 'Postie Ride' to Lake Eyre became a long series of posts so that she could "feel" and "experience" our trip through the computer screen. It was an enormous writing and uploading photo effort on my part, but it was well worth it because she loved it and she felt the love I put into it for her. A couple of other readers went along the ride too and that was a lovely bonus.
Last but definitely not least, I wanted a place to record my recipes and food experiences.
What was I hoping to achieve? I wanted to conquer my fear of the computer. I hoped that I would have my recipes in a place where I could find them easily. I realised I am mortal and with this realisation, I wanted to share my recipes and secret hints that I previously guarded more closely than my pin number. What is the point of letting things die with me. I was hoping to connect with someone in the world, a little like an old-fashioned "penfriend". I wanted to feel comfortable to be able to say whatever I wanted, be open and truthful. I wanted to find others like that too. Others who were genuine and prepared to write about their warts and all and also prepared to acknowledge when a recipe didn't turn out. I was hoping my daughter would remain attached and feel close to us.
Have my expectations been fulfilled? Mostly, yes. I'm not afraid of the 'delete' button any more. I have learnt how to use many functions on the computer but I am far from a confident user. Having come a long way, I still have a long way to go. I have made a couple of wonderful, genuine relationships in the blogosphere and that is incredibly satisfying. I have stayed in touch with one friend through my blog and we are closer now than ever even though she has moved overseas. My daughter has returned home and we are now closer than ever as well. I like to think that maybe TMKW has helped a little. As for the recipe collection, I am not too sure about that. I don't think my blog is very orderly and I don't think the recipes are in place where they can found easily. I need to work on tidying things up and creating a place to easily locate recipes.
How do I still feel about TMKW? I feel very close to my little blog. This is my space to feel free and express whatever it is I feel like sharing, be that food, family life or my thoughts. And 'my thoughts' is something that has been surprising. My thoughts have been creeping into each and every entry more and more. I have used TMKW to state my feelings at times, to express how I feel about various episodes in my life and then accompany that with a recipe. Far from the recipes being the star and the reason why I am starting a new post, I have found that often they follow on from whatever it is that struck a chord with me during the day. That is surprising to me and that's okay. TMKW is evolving and will continue to evolve. The fact that I am using this space as a personal journal at times feels right. It is what it is and by pouring out my thoughts and by releasing my energy be that positive or negative, TMKW has become a good friend. It feels liberating and it feels good.
Do I still want to continue with TMKW? Yes. However, I did experience a restless time recently and I had a good break from TMKW. I considered beginning a new blog and canning this one. Actually I did start another blog. I posted some very personal stuff on there and after three posts I haven't been back. I may hang onto that space for the really "inner core" stuff.
Where would I like to see TMKW one year from today? A new template is on the cards, so I may change my look. I recently canned the foodie blogroll. I had it posted in my sidebar and then I decided it was taking up my personal space and I had not gained any benefits at all from having it there. Right there and then I decided I didn't want any kind of advertising on my blog. I want an "uncluttered" blog. I want a visitor to come and and see ME. Nothing else. No bombardment of any kind. No advertising or monetizing. Just me. A place that is safe and has no expectations upon the reader at all. So I would like to see an even friendlier, homelier page. I guess in a year from now I would like to have a warm, cosy place for anyone who would like to drop in and feel at home. I would love to be able to tell a short story. I seem to get carried away and my story telling is very long at times. I need to be realistic. People really don't have the time to read all "my stuff". As for me it would be a good thing too. Less time on the computer means more time doing other things in life. Shorter posting coming up. Cross fingers. Ooops nearly forgot. I would like to see the recipes organised and to be easily accessed.
And one year from today, I literally would like to continue looking through my kitchen window and see my son pulling up in the drive after he has rejected Maccas, arriving home hungry so he can enjoy his Mum's cooking - because he knows the secret ingredient that he cannot get at Macca's - and that is love.
END OF INTERVIEW
The time seems fitting to have a special cake. This mud cake and I share a lot of history. I made all my children's graduation cakes when they were in primary school. I feel honoured that this cake was enjoyed by their classmates, teachers, parents and guests on their special evening. I've made it many times for special occasions including last year's 50th birthday. I can honestly say I don't think it has ever let me down. It really is a beauty. And as I sit here writing, my phone rings.
It is my very good friend Kim. I learn her son Jamie shall turn twenty one in April. She then proceeds to ask (plead may be a better word), if I would bake a couple of mud cakes for his birthday party. OH MY GOD! I am not joking. Seriously, I swear this is all true. Kim says that she hasn't tasted a better mud cake than mine and she wants the very best for Jamie. I am so flattered. Of course I will Kimbo! She does say she would like some decorating on it; basically to say twenty one. I am not too fussed at decorating but what the heck.
If that wasn't enough my other friend Dee phoned later the very same day. Apparently a lady at work wants a very special decorated mud cake for her son turning twenty one and her daughter turning eighteen on the very same day. I tell her to get the lady to give me a call. It's all too much. I can't take it. Quick, here is the recipe before the phone rings again. Besides I am going to need to access this recipe very soon myself. Hehe. Happy One To Me. Hang on - who is making me a mud cake?
The Very Best Chocolate Mud Cake
(adapted from Family Circle)
250gm dark cooking chocolate
2tbsp instant espresso coffee powder or granules
150gm self-raising flour
150gm plain flour
60gm cocoa powder
1/2tsp bicarb soda
550gm caster sugar
2tbsp vegetable oil or light olive oil
150gm dark cooking chocolate
60gm melted unsalted butter
Grease a deep 23cm round cake tin. Line the base and sides with baking paper, making sure the paper extends well above the top of the tin.
Dissolve the coffee in 185mls hot water. Put the butter, sugar, chocolate and dissolved coffee and water in a pan. Stir over a low heat until smooth, completely melted and well incorporated. Set aside.
Sift the flours, cocoa and bicarb of soda into a large bowl. Sift a couple of times. Make a well in the centre.
Add the combined eggs, oil and milk; using a large spoon or spatula mix well into the dry ingredients. Add half the cooled melted chocolate mixture; stir well till there are no lumps. Add the remaining half; make sure the mixture is well combined. It should be of a pourable consistency.
Pour the mixture into the carefully lined cake tin. Place into a preheated oven set at 130 - 150degrees celcius. No higher. I feel the mud cake requires baking a bit like a christmas cake; long, slow and low heat. Bake for approx 1 3/4 hours. It is not unusual for the top of the cake to develop a crust or for the centre to be slightly sunken. Place the cake on a rack; leave in tin until completely cold. Once cold; cover securely with a tea towel. Leave overnight.
Turn cake out, remove all of the lining. Examine the cake. You want a level cake when it comes to decorating; therefore if it is not even it may be necessary to slice off some of the crusty bits until it is level with the centre of the cake. Sometimes the cake may have a slight rise. In this instance simply cut off the risen bit in the centre. Sometimes you won't have to do a thing.
Once you have achieved a flat, top surface, turn the cake upside down. It is wise to do this on the serving plate with some cutouts of baking paper around the edges and under the cake. This alleviates any messiness and once the icing becomes firm, the baking paper can be removed leaving your cake looking immaculately decorated.
In a small glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Do not overheat. In another bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Once again, do not overheat or 'sizzle' the butter; just till almost melted. Pour this into the melted chocolate and slowly incorporate the two together. Stir until well combined and you have achieved a nice glossy, pouring chocolate.
Pour ganache onto the centre of the cake. Using a spatula or a knife, spread the ganache all over the cake. If the weather is hot or humid you can take a little more time to get it right. If the weather is cold you may have to work more quickly as the chocolate ganache may begin to harden.
Allow the topping to set at room temperature. If at any time you place it in the fridge you will lose the glossy shine. It won't affect the taste, it just won't look as silky smooth.
This cake keeps moist easily for about two weeks. After this period I'm afraid I don't know because I have never had any left to find out.