Day 78: Chocolate Caprese
inspired by Cafe Murano
After finally using my soufflé moulds it’s time to own up to another bit of kitchen kit that I’ve had for ages and never used.
A round, springform cake tin.
Aidan very kindly bought me a whole load of baking stuff a couple of years ago for Christmas. As I’m obsessed with Bake Off it was a really thoughtful gift. Only issue is I spend a lot more time watching people bake, than actually baking myself.
Until lockdown that is.
I’ve discovered I can make scones and soufflés. I’ve made loaves and loaves of bread. So surely a cake can’t be too hard?
Still I’m running low on flour at the moment and don’t want to risk wasting what I have on a burnt baking disaster. So I’m going flourless. Surely that makes it healthier right? Fewer carbs?
I’ve wanted to write about Café Murano for a while.
The one in Covent Garden is my favourite pre theatre spot. You almost feel you’re going back in time when you enter the restaurant. All marble bar top, polished brass and excellent mood lighting. Go for the decor and atmosphere alone. But while you’re there you may as well eat some really good food.
They have a couple of other outposts too that I’ve not eaten at. One in St. James and one on Bermondsey Street.
Anyone who follows my blog has probably worked out this is one of my favourite streets in London. Purely because it’s filled with so many delicious places to eat.
So it’s probably only a matter of time before I head to the Café Murano south of the river and see how it compares.
It makes me think actually.
A restaurant in Bermondsey where most of your surroundings are residential might suddenly do a lot better than a Covent Garden counterpart. For the site in the West End must rely so heavily on pre and post there trade. As restaurants reopening appears on the horizon, sadly the same can’t be said for theatre.
In fact a look on their website reveals that they are open for delivery and collection of takeaway food… but only from the Bermondsey site. Is this a sign of things to come? Will local neighbourhood restaurants triumph over those in the centre of town?
It’s hard to imagine the Covent Garden restaurant without the bustle of theatre goers and tourists. Looking out from their first floor mezzanine onto the empty streets below. No world to watch go by.
We will have to wait and see what happens. I’m sure the bustle will return to Central London. I’m sure it won’t be too much longer until I venture into town. But for the time being I’m staying south of the river.
I have a look at the Bermondsey Street menu and see this
“Chocolate Caprese, Mascarpone”
Any dessert starting with the word “chocolate” is going to get my attention. But what is a Caprese? Turns out it’s a flourless chocolate and almond cake, originally from Capri.
This sounds delicious. Plus I’ve found what looks like a really easy recipe on Food 52.
I have my doubts though. The writer suggests that as long as you have equal quantities of chocolate, almonds, sugar and butter you can play around with how many eggs you use. This doesn’t sound like baking to me. Baking should be precise.
For the first time in a long time, I actually have a crowd to feed.
Well not a crowd, don’t worry. I’m not breaking lockdown rules. But I’m going to see my family for the first time since this all started. They’re driving over for the afternoon so I can justify making a bigger cake. Safe in the knowledge that I won’t be left to consume it all by myself.
Aidan isn’t a big cake fan so I can’t count on him to help me out.
In the end I use 200g each of ground almonds, unsalted butter, dark chocolate and golden caster sugar.
I decide to use five eggs. They’re from a mixed sizes box so some are bigger than others. I’m begin to think this could be a mistake.
The cake is gloriously simple to make. Well, other than whisking the egg whites by hand. Nothing glorious about that.
The only bit I struggle with is how to line the cake tin. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve never used one before. A quick Youtube tutorial sorts me out. I draw around the tin and cut out a circle of baking parchment. Then I grease the inside of the tin all over with butter and add the paper disc to the bottom.
I’m still a bit bemused as to why you grease the bottom of the tin, only to then cover it with paper. But never mind.
It goes into the oven. The recipe says 40 minutes. I set a timer for 30 minutes and take the cake out then. The top is firm and when poked with a skewer it comes out clean. If I wanted it really gooey in the middle I could have taken it out even sooner. I leave it to cool in the tin.
Café Murano might serve theirs with mascarpone but I can’t resist serving mine with some Jersey clotted cream I ordered from Farmdrop.
I made a raspberry coulis to go with it. I was just going to serve them whole, but Aidan managed to crush them at the bottom of his bag. By the time they made it home they were half way to a coulis already.
The semi smushed raspberries and a tablespoon of sugar went into a saucepan on a low heat and cooked for about 10 minutes. Simple.
Raspberry and chocolate is one of favourite combinations. The addition of clotted cream made it even better (well it would, wouldn’t it?).
So now I’m sat here, watching the rain pour down, as I tuck into another piece (only a quarter of the cake to go…) feeling very thankful that my family came to visit yesterday, when it was dry so we could socially distance in the garden.
I’m wishing for a more sunny days in our future. So we can see more of loved ones. And eat a lot more chocolate cake.