Monday 30 January 2012

January Challenge: The last day

Every year around Australia Day, my little family joins up with some other families and we go on a long weekend holiday with the kids. When we first went, it was three couples with one child and one baby on the way. Five years later, it's 4 couples with 8 children and one baby on the way! To say that it's hectic is an understatement, but everyone has fun, so we keep going back.

This year, we celebrated my little boy turning 1 with a party. I made a very special cake - it's a dairy free chocolate cake (one of the party guests has a casein allergy). If you're a bit of a nerd, you'll recognise it straight away. If you're not a nerd, then you might be interested to know that it's a reproduction of the cake from the video game Portal.

This was a triumph.
I spent some time looking at different recipes. I don't make a lot of chocolate cakes, so I don't have a foolproof recipe. I wanted something that wasn't as heavy as a mudcake, but richer than a cake made only with cocoa. I also had the challenge of cooking at a holiday house, so I wanted a recipe that could be made without a great deal of effort. I found just the thing I was looking for at CitrusAndCandy. I'm going to show my version of it here, because I had to modify it to make it dairy free, and because I didn't quite have all the ingredients when I got to the holiday house! The cake was very moist, but not fudgy. It holds it shape when cut, so it's a good cake for shaping. It doesn't rise a great deal, so I made two and sandwiched them together to get the height I was after.

The cracks didn't matter once the cake was levelled.

Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

All cup measurements are 'loosely packed'
1 cup dairy free margarine (eg, Nuttelex)
1 cup sugar (I used half brown sugar and half icing sugar!)
1/2 cup cocoa
100g dairy free chocolate
160ml chocolate flavoured soy milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp coffee essence
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs

In a heat proof bowl, place the margarine, sugar, cocoa, chocolate, essence and soy milk. Heat over a pot of simmering water until all the ingredients are melted and well mixed (you could also do this in the microwave 30s at a time, stirring in between).
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then add the eggs, whisking well between adding each egg. The mixture will start to look glossy. Mix the flour and baking powder together. Add the flour 1/3 of a cup at a time, whisking well, after each addition.
Pour into a greased cake tin, lined with baking paper, and bake for 40 minutes at 170degC.

Allow to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before turning it out.

To decorate, I used a dairy free chocolate spread as frosting (Sweet William brand "Scooby Doo Chocolate Mud"). I only needed one jar for the entire cake. Then I covered with chocolate flavoured sprinkles, and piped on white frosting. 
The cherries are maraschino cherries. I left the stems on.

Plain Dairy Free Frosting
(makes about 2/3 of a cup, suitable for decorating)

2 tsp dairy free margarine
1 tsp soy milk
1 cup pure icing sugar

Whip the margarine and soy milk until smooth and light, and gradually add icing sugar, continuing to mix until the mixture is the stiffness you require. Allow to rest in the fridge until you are ready, then transfer to a piping bag and nozzle.

The pantry challenge is now over - I've certainly been able to clean out a lot of things from the freezer and pantry. It's also made me more aware of what's in there. Thanks to those who joined in the challenge with me, I'll definitely be doing it again next year.

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