Day 114

Level 2 Chi Kung. Microcosmic orbit.

Dropped Katie at Stagecoach, then home to drop Sherlock off and collect Dash for his guitar lesson. Much more successful this week as Dash had practised conscientiously during the week. About halfway through the lesson, Mr Baulch introduced a new, very simple, exercise

Mr Baulch: ‘Now, this is the most difficult, complicated piece you’ve ever seen.’

Dash: [looks confused]

J: ‘Sarcasm, Dash’

Mr Baulch: [looking guilty] ‘Of course, I’m not meant to be sarcastic, am I? Oh well, he seems to be coping ok.’

J: [rolling eyes] [Sighs].

Oh well, indeed.

Collected Katie from Stagecoach and headed home. Nick then took Katie across town to collect her new cello, while I waited in to interview a new dog borrower. While waiting for the dog borrower, I decided to crack on with making the Ruby Tandoh layered chocolate cake featured in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago (recipe below) and these brownies, except with prunes rather than dates.…/the-ultimate-chocola…/543/

Haven’t tried the cake yet as I will leave the ganache to do tomorrow, but the brownies are fab – no obvious taste or texture of prune, just a lovely rounded richness.

Ruby Tandoh’s chocolate fudge cake

200g dark chocolate
200g butter, cubed
4 large eggs
200ml milk
100g soft dark brown sugar
160g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt

Heat the oven to 180C (fan 160C)/gas mark 4, and grease two 20cm round cake tins, preferably loose-bottomed or spring-form, and line with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate, either in short bursts in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over (but not touching) simmering water in a pan. Off the heat, stir in the butter until melted, then whisk in the eggs, milk and both sugars.

In another bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add this to the wet ingredients, gently whisking for just as long as it takes to combine. The batter will be thick and satiny, inviting you to take first a little finger, then a teaspoon, then a ladle to it.

Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. Chocolate cakes suffer for being even slightly over-baked, so be vigilant: test at 25 minutes and keep a close eye on it thereafter. If a knife inserted into the centre comes out with no more than a couple of crumbs sticking to it, it’s ready.

Leave the cakes to cool for a few minutes in their tins, then turn them out on to wire racks to finish cooling to room temperature. Sandwich and ice the cakes with the following frosting.

Chocolate fudge ganache

This dark, fudgy ganache is an event in itself. Chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids (65% or more) will give a richer, more chocolatey ganache, while a lower-quality chocolate will create a frosting with a very different (but no less interesting) flavour – more mellow, caramelised and sweeter. Makes enough to fill and cover one 20cm sandwich cake.

200g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
100g soft dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp golden syrup

Finely chop the chocolate and set aside in a large bowl. Heat the cream, sugar and salt in a pan over a low heat until scalding – it needs to be steaming hot but you mustn’t let it boil. Slowly pour this over the chopped chocolate, let the mixture sit for a minute, then stir to combine. The chocolate should melt into the cream, leaving a smooth, shiny ganache mixture. (If any chunks of chocolate remain, heat very gently over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave.) Stir in the golden syrup.

Leave the ganache to cool to room temperature, then use some to sandwich together the cake layers. Spread the rest on the top and sides. It’ll set too firm to use if you keep it in the fridge, but if you want a firmer set, put the whole cake in the fridge once iced.

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