I see her, eyebrows raised, sweat covering her forehead, shirt almost translucent, working hard in her tiny apartment kitchen in the sweltering heat of the summer. It was hot, but she didn’t care because she was baking for her family, and that made everything worthwhile. Nevermind the lingering heat, the sweat, the scarce ingredients. She was going to put her imagination to the test and come up with melt-in-your-mouth desserts for her family to enjoy. A labor of love: Isn’t this what baking is all about?
This lady was my aunt, who passed away in 1993. She was a fantastic baker and an all-around cook extraordinaire. By now, you know I like to remember her in this blog and to recreate her recipes as often as I can. The cake below is yet another trip down memory lane, to my aunt and the wonderful summers we spent together in the countryside – baking, eating, playing childhood games under the old quince tree, living a wonderful life. 🙂
I had difficulty converting the ingredient quantities from metric to imperial, and initially I used more flour than I should have used, which meant the cake turned out a bit heavy and dense. In the end I decided the best bet was to use half a cup of flour – which seems very little, but is nevertheless the right amount if you want to ensure the cake is going to have a moist and light consistency. Moreover, the egg yolk “soft crust” adds another layer of moisture, while also keeping intact the seductive appeal of the walnut & dark cocoa center. This cake is definitely worth the effort!
You start off by putting the butter, cocoa, flour and sugar in a bowl and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fluffy.
Put the beaten egg whites in the bowl with the cocoa mixture and mix well in circular motions using a spatula. Add the ground nuts and continue mixing until well combined.
Pour the mixture into a 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
While the cake is baking, it’s time to make the egg yolk “crust.” Beat the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and velvety.
Take the cake out of the oven and put it on a plain surface. Make sure you use oven gloves because the pan will be very hot!
Pour the egg yolk & sugar mixture on top of the cake.
Put the cake back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the egg yolk crust has hardened/cooked.
Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle shaved chocolate on top of the cake, then cut the cake as you wish. Sadly, I didn’t wait long enough for the cake to cool, and my shaved chocolate melted a bit. Don’t do like I did – be patient 🙂
Serve the cake as it is or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side. Mmmmmm, so good…
This cake keeps well for several days, and I usually pair it with a cup of aromatic tea or wholesome cocoa. Now that fall is upon us, I like to take the time to relax a bit, far away from the kitchen, just me, a slice of cake, and a hot and comforting drink. As my mind goes back in time to places and people I hold dear, this cake becomes even more flavorful, and slowly wraps my heart in a fall mist of delightful memories.