Grounded by Cake
Wow. It's been a while. I've been baking up a storm, but putting anything here . . . slipped past me. And you know when you've stopped doing something for a greater length of time, the anxiety to start again? What's the right cake? How to be witty about frosting? How deep do I delve into the history of Tomato Soup Cake? How to choose? Am I really stressing this much about cake?
Endless question marks later, I've had a bad week, which is not part of the story really, but last night I felt the need to bake a grounding sort of cake, a cake that would anchor me back to the core of what I love to do. And this desire led me to one of my very first-love cakes: Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
A little back story: When I first moved to NYC, I had a lot of trouble finding work in publishing (the reason I came here), so I took a job at the now-a-Trader-Joe's Barnes and Noble in Chelsea. As long as I was with books, so be it. And like many a bookstore employee, I might pretend to be dusting or shelving or, well, working, while instead pouring though the hundreds of books surrounding me.
Often assigned to the cookbook department, it was there that I found How to Be a Domestic Goddess and, more importantly, that hypnotic Nigella voice. You can read the words Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake and, depending on the accent, etc, they sound boring and bland or a bit silly (loaf is a silly word), but in that Nigella way it sounds like perfection. Classic. Necessary. The little black dress of cakes. (Am I taking this too far?!)
Anyway, there are many more books and cakes and stories that make up my own, but there is something about that one Nigella cake and the way finding her work led me to connect the words and images and cakes into my particular sort of culinary love.
This in mind, I set out to bake the first-love cake last night . . . and I burnt the chocolate, and the Muscavado that was in the back of the cabinet had gone all hard and lumpy, and I just wanted to the bake the damn cake more than I wanted to take the time to re-melt chocolate or soften the sugar (priorities can be so weird), so I kept on and baked it and, as this one needs a night to sit and chill (as did I), I left it be.
This morning, while B "cooked me a hamburger," I ate a slice for breakfast smeared with cold cream cheese, the way Nigella likes it. It was so perfectly, blissfully good, burnt-chocolate-lumpy-sugar and all. As I sat loving over it, waiting for the hamburger to finish so I could get the kid to wear pants, this bit knocked its way into my brain: Everything has its lumps and burnt parts but sometimes you just have to keep on—in baking and in writing and in pleading "for the sake of all that's decent, put on some pants!".
That's something. An awfully cheesy something, but meh, I've got a cake.
Find the recipe for Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake HERE.