Monday, March 10, 2008

Chocolate Spongecake

To celebrate the one year mark of this blog, which is officially today, I present this birthday cake. The recipe is Chocolate Sponge Cake from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas. This cake has so many layers of flavor, it's very tasty! I think a better name for it is Mexican Chocolate Sponge Cake, but probably that is because my cake turned out more Mexican flavored than the original recipe. This is because I used tequila and agave nectar as substitutions for the cognac and sweetener. Normally I try to follow baking recipes as written, but I took LOTS of liberties here, and everything turned out fine.

The reason this recipe sparked my interest in the first place was because it calls for egg whites, and we had egg whites leftover from a Whole Wheat Challah that had called for yolks, which DH made on the same day. (Photo of the Whole Wheat Challah is at the end of this post: it was incredible!)

Chocolate Spongecake
adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas

2 Tbs minced dried apricots plus 1/4 cup raisins, chopped OR reduce amount of sugar/sweetener and use up to 1/2 cup total of minced dried fruits of choice (I used a combo of dried apricots, dried cherries and raisins)
2 Tbs cognac or Tequila (I used Agavero Licor de Tequila)
2 Tbs water
1/2 tsp almond extract OR vanilla extract (I used vanilla)
1 cup flour
2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup plain yogurt (I didn't have any on hand, so I substituted one cup milk with a squirt of fresh lemon juice)
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar (In my opinion, this recipe has so much flavor, it doesn't need so much sugar. Just increase the amount of dried fruit, like I did, and then add two generous squeezes of agave nectar and just a bit of granulated sugar: I used no more than 1/3 cup total of sweeteners, omitting a whole cup of the sugar, and didn't miss it at all!)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
confectioner sugar to decorate after it is has cooked (I omitted this and sprinkled on cinnamon instead)

1. Prepare a nine-inch spring form cake pan (grease it with oil or butter and then dust with flour). Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine the minced fruits with the alcohol, water and extract in a small skillet and warm over low heat until the liquid begins to steam. Stir, then set aside to macerate while you prepare the batter.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients, except the sugar. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the yogurt with the sweetener or sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold firm, glossy peaks.
4. Stir the macerated fruits and their liquid into the yogurt mixture. Then stir in the dry ingredients. You will have a stiff batter. Mix in about a third of the egg white and stir until it is very thoroughly blended and the batter has loosened. Then gently fold in the remaining whites.
5. Pile the batter carefully into the prepared pan and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick or thin knife near the center; the cake will be done when the toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool cake in its pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove it and let it cool completely on a rack. Dust with confectioner sugar or cinnamon. Serve by itself or with berries or a berry sauce or whipped cream.

(My note: after 35 minutes of baking, I did the test and the toothpick did not come out clean, so I baked an additional 3 minutes and retested, still not clean. But the cake was starting to look dry, especially at the edges. So I tested it by patting the top of the cake with my hand and it felt firm and nicely set, so I stopped cooking it. I was glad I did, as I think it would have dried out too much if I had cooked it longer. I think that it cooked differently because I used some agave nectar: When using agave in baked goods, you are supposed to reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients and sometimes it helps to bake at a lower setting, but I neglected to do both of those. But, the cake was perfectly cooked after it had cooled, so everything worked out great!)

Above, Whole Wheat Challah, using the recipe in Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.


Fiber said...

A very happy Blog Birthday!

michelle @ TNS said...

i just found you, but happy blog birthday!