The disadvantage of growing up moving around a lot as a child is that I get stuck straight away on ‘home town’ whenever facebook nags me to update my details. Where am I actually from? I can never make up my mind. London is definitely where I think of as home now, but I am repeatedly reminded of the fact that not growing up in the UK sets me apart from my British friends, no matter how much tea I drink. I’m accepting of my identity crisis, however, and have come to appreciate the fact that I’m a mish-mash of Canadian, Swiss French, American and British culture.
American style baking formed a huge part of my childhood, living in the States for 10 years. Much as I enjoy a slice of Victoria sponge, I find that instinctively my mind turns towards the American classics of my childhood whenever I get the urge to bake. Blueberry muffins, pumpkin pie, peanut butter cookies: these are the comfort food recipes I return to again and again.
My Mum made this cake repeatedly when we lived on Long Island, and I learnt to make it myself as a young girl. The recipe is adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and is very American in its use of oil rather than butter. It’s incredibly tasty and also quick to whip up, but looks like you’ve made an effort:
Quick Chocolate Mocha Cake
2 ounces 70% dark chocolate
1 large egg
1 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup strong coffee
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Butter, line base and lightly flour an 8-inch springform round cake tin. Melt chocolate in microwave, taking care it doesn’t burn. Set aside. Beat the egg in a bowl and slowly add the sugar, continuing to beat until well blended. Add the oil, vanilla, melted chocolate and coffee and beat well. Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and add, beating for 2 minutes with an electric beater. Spread in the pan and bake for 35-40 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Spread with broiled frosting (see below) whilst still in the pan and put under the grill to brown. Once brown, place tin on rack for 10 mins, then remove cake from tin.
Watch carefully to make sure the topping browns lightly and evenly.
3 tbsps melted butter
3 tbsps brown sugar
2 tbsps cream (or milk)
1/2 cup desiccated, shredded coconut or chopped nuts
Mix all the ingredients together and spread over a warm cake while it is still in the tin. Set the tin under the grill, until the frosting bubbles and turns golden.