Lily Vanilli is a hero with the food crowd. She’s a self-taught baker with a loyal following at her all-women East London bakery. She has created cakes for some of the biggest music stars, including Madonna and Elton John.
When the coronavirus lockdown came, she turned her mind to accessible recipes for people stuck at home, and came up with this idea for a flourless chocolate cake, which she has agreed to share with Bloomberg.
“When I was learning to bake, I considered chocolate cake the hallmark of a good baker,” she says. “Some of the recipes were quite complicated. I wanted something that was really simple, yet restaurant quality.
“I came up with this in a kit form and it really had its moment. It’s a lockdown project and everyone was baking at home,” she says. The kits are on sale here or you can just try cooking it from scratch, with store-bought ingredients, as I did. It was the first time I ever attempted to bake a cake, and the recipe is remarkably straightforward.
I have to admit that my result was mixed. The cake looked great in the pan and tasted wonderful, with a light, crisp crust and a gooey center that was rich without being unduly heavy. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm, I then decided to transfer it to a plate while still warm, at which point bits fell off it. So please learn from my mistake and let it cool first.
A 7″ (18 cm) cake tin (8″ or 9″ tins will do) A whisk, two bowls and a saucepan, Square of baking paper
225g (7.9 oz) dark chocolate 90g dark brown sugar 35g cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking powder 125g unsalted butter4 eggs
1. Preheat your oven to 180° C (356° F). Use some butter to grease a 7″ cake pan and stick the baking paper in place. The paper should be too big for the pan and protrude above the edges.
2. Chop the butter and chocolate into small pieces and melt them together in a bain-marie (a metal or glass bowl placed over a saucepan with an inch of water in it) on medium heat. Stir to melt slowly. Mix until all is melted and cool. (Tip: Take the bowl off the heat 3/4 of the way through melting. Your mix will cool as the rest of the chocolate melts. Alternatively, you can put the butter and chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl and melt for 1.5 minutes at 30-second intervals, stirring after each blast.)
3. In another bowl, hand beat your eggs well with a whisk for around 20 seconds.
4. Add the egg to the cool chocolate mixture, and, again with the hand whisk, beat it all together until it starts to look glossy.
5. Add the cocoa mixture and stir to combine evenly.
6. Tip the cake mix into the lined pan so it sits level.
7. Cook for 19-20 minutes for a 7″ tin. Your cake should be just baked on top but wobbly when you shake the tin. You want a lovely gooey center. It’s normal for the cake to rise and then sink once it has cooled. If using a bigger tin, check it after 18 minutes. It will keep well for four to five days.
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