My sister and I have been baking this month. And no, not Lilandra, who is the usual family baker-of-sweet-treats. Sister-the-elder and I in Guyana have been planning every couple days, calling each other at night or during work to discuss what special treat we’re going to make to break fast. So we’ve made aloo pies with channa, oatmeal muffins with almond streusel, macaroni pie, black eye peas googni, corn muffins, brownies, pizza and this lovely lovely chocolate cake. The cake was requested by the 4.5 year old niece, who saw a Sachertorte when we were browsing cookbooks for inspiration. This, for the record, is NOT a Sachertorte as I had no desire to be separating and whipping up egg whites for a chocolate sponge while fasting. When we were done filling the layers and frosting and the mini chefs were foraging for sugar highs in the frosting bowl, the niece asked whose birthday it was. I told her it’s not anyone’s birthday, it’s just Ramadan and Muslims like making nice things to eat during Ramadan.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog (or if you’ve been browsing the Ramadan posts from over the years) you will realise that there’s a particular kind of joy attached to this month. Yes, it’s all about ibadah (worship) and the fasting and extra night prayers (Tarawih) can be a test, but there’s a sense of community that abounds during this month. It’s partly the feeling you get when you perform the Hajj (pilgrimage), that you’re part of something bigger that millions and millions of people are sharing in at the same time. There’s also a more simplistic reason – people tend to break fast in the mosque together, sharing the Iftar (you get blessings for feeding a fasting person so people like to sponsor these dinners!) and the Tarawih prayers are an extra nightly reason to go to the masjid for salaah in jamaat (congregational prayers). All that extra togetherness adds to the special feelings associated with this month – specialness which is almost always accompanied by great food!
Muslims also tend to spend some time planning meals during this month – for communal cooking for the Iftar, favourite delicacies to entice reluctant eaters during Suhr (the meal before the fast begins at dawn) or to stimulate the shrinking appetite later in the month. And of course, there’s the planning for Eid! What you’re going to wear of course, but more importantly, what are you going to cook and serve up to all and sundry! While the search stats for this blog reveal that people are looking for the usual suspects in the Ramadan/Eid lineup – kurma, barfi, sawine, maleeda, and ras gullah for example – that doesn’t mean that other sweet treats aren’t on the agenda.
Like this chocolate cake. Moist, chocolatey and with a lovely butter frosting using melted chocolate. So. very. good. And not too large (although I’d double the recipe the next time to get a nice high cake).
It’s from a book called “Chocolate: Easy and delicious step-by-step recipes”. It’s a British book…I need to check the publisher details. It’s a great book as far as we can tell since the few things we’ve made from it have been excellent. The children definitely like the photos and have found lots of things Aunty Chennette needs to come make.
RECIPE (modifications in brown)
- 125 g (4.5 oz) soft margarine (or butter)
- 125 g (4.5 oz) caster sugar (we used very brown sugar)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup (we actually had this! I’d usually substitute any kind of syrup or even some thinned molasses)
- 125 g (4.5 oz) self-raising flour, sifted (see note above!) Substitute 125 grams (4.5 oz) flour plus 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted (we used 4)
- 50 g (1.75 oz) icing sugar, sifted
- 25 g (1 oz) butter
- 100 g (3.5 oz) milk cooking chocolate
- a little extra cooking chocolate for the top (optional)
METHOD (my method)
Lightly grease 2 7-inch shallow cake tins (the layer pans – we used larger ones, all we had, so the cake was flatter)
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit)
Now, the recipe just said mix all ingredients to a smooth batter, but, I have my home ec training ingrained in me – this is a cake, to be made by the creamed-in method. This is how you get a light cake texture. I have tried recipes before that say mix everything together and the cake comes out rubbery. So your choice.
Cream margarine/butter and sugar together until the mixture is creamy and light.
Add eggs, beat well.
Add golden syrup, mix well.
Add flour and cocoa powder, fold in – mix gently to incorporate into a smooth batter but do not over beat.
Divide mixture between both pans equally.
Let cake cool in pans for a few minutes then turn out onto wire racks to cool while you make the frosting.
Melt chocolate over a double boiler or gently in a microwave (microwave on medium for 20 seconds at a time and stir in intervals)
Beat icing sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate, mix well.
Spread 1/3 of the frosting on the top of one cake layer, place the other cake layer on top. (we threw in some butterscotch chips in the middle of the layers)
Use the remaining frosting to cover the cake. (I’ll admit that I made a bit more frosting than the recipe called for, maybe using 1/2 oz more butter and icing sugar accordingly). Drizzle melted chocolate over the top or top with nuts or other chips.
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