This was a particularly long week, no? I found myself on Friday evening completely exhausted and in need of a break. So I grabbed a beer and made a cake.
Ok, probably not what most people would consider relaxing. But we all take care of ourselves in different ways. Some people might get a massage or manicure to pamper themselves. I give myself a cake.
Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without these three things. Chocolate, coffee, and butter. They complete me. And by adding in a little sugar, eggs, flour and walnuts to that mix, well, then we’ve got ourselves a pretty fantastic dessert.
This week has involved a lot of travel to and from the city, for various reasons. Despite the degree to which I loathe the commute, everything is in the city–and I count the days until I will be too. I have been particularly focused on the bakery this week. Things are still slow and young, as expected, but definitely moving. My own involvement is developing as well, which is relieving if only for the fact that I finally have real work to do: contacting suppliers, going through old receipts and gathering information needed to create a draft of our budget.
And there’s always the baking. I’m going to start testing the cookie recipes this month along with the bread I’ve been working on. I was finally able to track down some Italian flour and have been working on perfecting what will be our basic bread recipe. I’m not much of a perfectionist when it comes to baking aesthetics–for me, taste always trumps presentation, and sometimes I’m just lazy. But I will have to sell this bread and I need to have the highest standards. So far none the bread I’ve made seems to be as good as it could be, and I can’t just shrug off my inner-critic like I usually do with an “it’s not perfect, but oh well”. This has to be consistently awesome bread.
This transition from a home baker to a professional one is daunting but exciting, and I don’t quite know what to expect. I wonder what will be my biggest challenge. I am itching to get going, and thankfully classes start next month. It hasn’t been that long since I was a student, yet the nerd in me is giddy about going back to school and learning new things. Then again, it’s baking and pastry school, which sounds way more fun than grad school. Less papers to write at least.
Until then, I’ll be here, baking and working on everything else. And because you’re still reading this, you deserve some cake too.
Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake
from (who else but) Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours
2¼ cups (335g) all-purpose flour
½ cup finely ground walnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup coffee, hot or cold
1 tsp finely ground instant coffee or instant espresso powder
1 ¾ cups (350 g) sugar
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- to 10-(inch) (12 cup) Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet—you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.
Whisk together the flour, ground walnuts, baking powder and salt.
Set a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put 2 tbsp of butter, cut into pieces, into the bowl, along with the chocolate, coffee, and instant coffee. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate are melted and everything is smooth and creamy—keep the heat low so that the butter and chocolate don’t separated. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and the sugar at medium speed for 3 minutes—you’ll have a thick paste; this won’t be light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. The mixture should look smooth and satiny. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, adding the dry mixture in 3 portions and the milk in 2.
Scrape a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and, using a rubber spatula, stir to blend thoroughly. If you want to go for the gingko pattern, scrape all of the white batter into the pan and top with the chocolate. If you want a more marbled pattern, alternate spoonfuls of light and dark batter in the pan. When all the batter is in the pan, swirl a table knife sparingly through the batters to marble them.
Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the Bundt pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake completely on the rack.