Last week I did a list of food related music which was my brainstorm for making food that related to music for the Eat to the Beat event at Elly Says Opa. It quickly became clear to me what I wanted to make. One of my favourite band names would have to be My Friend the Chocolate Cake, for obvious reasons. I couldn’t pass up a chance to rave about chocolate cakes and a wonderful band.
My Friend the Chocolate Cake (MFTCC)is a Melbourne based band founded by the talented vocalist/pianist David Bridie and cellist Helen Mountford in 1989. David Bridie is one of those clever musicians who have had many musical projects and use their talents for good causes. I first came across him in ambient band Not Waving Drowning. I remember sitting on the floor of the grungy Punters Club watching David Bridie play solo many years ago. This was before the release of the MFTCC album, Brood was released in 1994.
Brood is the only one of MFTCC’s albums I own. Brood has accompanied me on my travels, starred on the stereo during cooking and dinner parties, and been solace when I have felt low. The songs are in turn evocative and playful with Bridie’s delicate sad voice soaring over the melancholy of the cello and the swirling piano notes. You will also find violin, mandolin and various percussion instruments. One of my favourite MFTCC lines is ‘there’s nothing quite as harmful as a slow moving day’. The bio on their website describes the music as ‘the unlikely union of kitchen sink piano tales, vivid chamber orchestration and hell-raising instrumental shenanigans.’
I can only remember seeing the band once though I am sure there have been other times. E and I saw them some years ago in Geelong at one of those grown-up gigs where everyone sits at tables and chairs and buys wine and plates of posh food at the bar. The band is fun to see live and can still be seen playing around Melbourne’s festivals and the world’s cities.
And the name of the band is inspired because isn’t every chocolate cake a friend! Well most of them. I grew up loving the chocolate cake that my mum baked on a regular basis. When I started baking I discovered rich gooey flourless chocolate cakes which had suddenly come into vogue and were to be found in every second cafe. I have a fine collection of a whole range of chocolate cake recipes. I checked my index and was surprised to find only 8 chocolate cakes on my blog (plus a few cupcakes and brownies). But I think it is enough to convince you that my paradise would have a table heaving with every chocolate cake I have ever seen a recipe for – they would be fresh out of the oven and I would be able to eat as much as I liked without becoming either full or fat.
I am always after trying out new chocolate cake recipes. For a while now I have been curious to make a chocolate gingerbread cake. Elly’s event gave me the excuse I needed. I know Nigella has an interesting recipe but I wanted to try the Chocolate Spice Gingerbread cake from my Green and Black’s Chocolate cookbook. Chocolate, spices, prunes, molasses (because I don’t have treacle) and only one egg. Sounded delicious.
It is a cake to make when I'm not hungry because the recipe advises it tasted better the next day. I did it after a bakery tour and managed to wait til the next day before even tasting it. I also made it just before seeing my mum because she loves ginger and I knew she would enjoy this. E and I tried it with butter but I think it tasted just as good without. It is the sort of cake to eat on a wintery day accompanied by a cuppa tea.
This is a dark intense cake with a glossy and slightly cracked top, but it was not quite what I expected. The molasses was quite overwhelming and the chocolate and spices had to take a backseat to it. But once I accepted the dominance of molasses I began to taste all the other subtle fragrances and flavours. It is a soft moist cake with a fine texture rather than the fudgy goo I love in a cake. E said it wasn’t the moist gingerbread he loved as a child. But it tastes really good and brings to mind one of my favourite lyrics from Crowded House – ‘Can I have another piece of chocolate cake?’
Chocolate Spice Gingerbread
(from Green and Black’s Chocolate Recipes)
- 125g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 50g Maya Gold or other good quality dark orange chocolate, broken into pieces
- 50g dark chocolate, minimum 60%, broken into pieces
- 75g (little less than ½ half lightly packed) dark brown sugar
- 4 tbsp molasses or treacle
- 125g pitted prunes
- 175g (1 1/6 cups) plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarb soda (or baking powder)
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 160 C. Grease and line cake tin (unless you are using silicone pans which need neither greasing nor lining). The recipe recommends a 18 x 18cm tin. I used a 12 x 22cm tin.
Place butter, chocolates, sugar and molasses in a microwave proof bowl and melt in microwave (or gently melt on stovetop in a saucepan). Cool slightly while you snip prunes into pieces with scissors or roughly chop.
Add flour, bicarb and spices to chocolate mixture and stir (sifting is optional in my house). Stir well. Add egg and stir. Add prunes and stir (or fold in).
Pour mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake about 50-60 minutes til a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
On the Stereo:
Brood: My Friend the Chocolate Cake