And what a year it has been! In my encounter with philosophical ramblings, I have always been taken in by this one – “change is the only constant” and today when I reflect back on the year gone by, I can’t help but think how drastically different my life is. Same time last year, I had put down my papers and I remember going mad with all the wedding chores. Someone the other day asked me if I am a better baker than I am a writer and I will never know how to answer that question; I believe that both are intrinsic to me and they are what I am made of and perhaps I don’t want to compartmentalize.
Last year has been eventful, scarily so – single to being married, Madras to Bombay, writing to full time baking and a little bit of writing and finally, when the year came to its finish line, I decided to monetize my skills as a baker and I even got a few orders. I say scarily because at every point when I had to make decisions, I have had sleepless nights wondering if I am doing the right thing; but like Thoreau once said, “Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe” and I’d rather have doubts to nurture my passion than let overconfidence cloud my judgments.
Now, this is an inspired dish. The idea sparked off when I chanced upon a recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Torte from Helen S. Fletcher’s http://pastrieslikeapro.com/ . It is an amazing website with a wealth of information on baking, and if you ever having a baking quandary, you should stop by here.
I have made a cake of similar nature before – flourless chocolate cake by Raymond Blanc. Though this Rein de Saba base has a little flour in it; the flour gives the cake a definitive structure. You might know Rein de Saba as Queen of Sheba cake popularized by the legendary Julia child. The pièce de résistance to this dish though, are the strawberries. Halved strawberries are placed on the sides of the cake and are strewn over the bed of chocolate sponge. The chocolate mousse, (I used Raymond’s mousse recipe) is then poured over the strawberries. Finally, a rich chocolate glaze is prepared and poured over the set cake. When it is unmoulded, it looks as though the cake has little strawberry heart windows – it might just be the prettiest sliver of cake you might have ever seen.
For the rein de saba base
- 120 g dark chocolate, chopped (40% cocoa solids)
- 113 g unsalted butter, softened
- 50 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 35 g flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 20 fresh strawberries, stems cut off
For the chocolate mousse
For the chocolate glaze
- 150 g dark or bitter chocolate, chopped
- 200 ml heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Helen says, spray nonstick oil only in the middle of a 9” cake tin. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and line the cake tin. Spray nonstick oil on the middle of the parchment paper again. This way, your cake comes out flat and is baked evenly. Do not grease the sides.
- Melt the chopped chocolate over a double boiler. Cream butter and sugar until pale using an electric whisk. Add one egg. Beat for a bit. Now, make sure your melted chocolate is not hot or cold but lukewarm. Pour half of the chocolate into the butter mixture. Beat for a bit. Incorporate the remaining chocolate. Beat again. Now, add the other egg. Beat for a bit. Finally, fold in the flour and beat till all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes. Slide a knife or an offset spatula around the cake, and topple it gently over a wired rack.
- To prepare the mousse see https://doughmydear.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/raymond-blancs-flourless-chocolate-cake/
- Cut a few strawberries into halves. Leave the remaining as whole.
- Line the base and the sides of an 8” round cake tin with clingfilm. Let some of the cling film hang over the sides of the tin. I say 8” because the baked cake would have shrunk in volume a bit. Place the cooled cake into the tin. Place the halved strawberries around the cake tin, with a little gap between each other, cut side facing the tin. Place the whole strawberries on the cake. See below.
- Pour the prepared mousse over the cake. Even the mousse with an offset spatula.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
- Now, for the glaze, bring the cream to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Whisk gently as the chocolate melts into the cream. Allow to cool and pour over the set cake. Refrigerate overnight.