Sunday 2 March 2008

My Friend the Chocolate Cake

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


  1. I am thinking of making this to take home to my mum today.
    I wonder if you could sustitute some of the treacle/molasses for golden syrup, to tone the flavour down a bit? What do you think? I want to tast that chocolate.

  2. That's such a neat name for a band! I love it. =) They should have cake at every concert. Your cake looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g and I love the short list of ingredients. I must try this!

  3. thanks Holler, I wondered the same thing - let me know if you use golden syrup how it turns out - or else I think you could use less molasses/treacle

    thanks Romina - love your idea about cakes at concerts - now those are gigs I would go along to!

  4. Great entry for the event! Like you, we listen to a LOT of music, but I still needed to brainstorm for quite a bit before I finally picked something I liked. The cake looks delicious!

  5. I quite like the combination of chocolate and ginger (and there are those prunes again!!). This looks like it has a really nice texture in the photo--too bad it wasn't what you'd hoped for (and I am in awe of your self-control, waiting till the next day to even sample!). The band name is great, though I must admit that in my case, chocolate cake is not usually my friend (sniff).

    (PS Re: your comment on my blog--would love to know how you accomplished that suitcase of lost weight!)

  6. Oh--forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS on winning the "No Croutons Required" contest! The soup did look marvelous. . . I may have to tackle those wontons now despite prior fear of dumplings!

  7. thanks Elly - it was a fun idea to fuse music and food in an event - but I needed to think about it before I realised the answer was staring me in the face :-)

    thanks Ricki - the prunes were actually really nice in the cake and I did like it - I think I was just surprised by it. I think maybe you could consider chocolate cake your friend but one who gets you into mischief :-)

  8. Oh - and ricki - thanks re no croutons required - a lovely surprise on sunday morn - and if it means more people try this wonderful soup I will be most pleased (the dumplings really aren't that hard - take it from a dumpling-phobe)

  9. YUMMMMMMMMMM. That looks AWESOME! I love that band name! You just can't go wrong! Great entry!

  10. Oooh what a gorgeous looking and wonderfully spiced sounding chocolate cake.

  11. Gotta try this one. Prunes and chocolate have to be a good match! And such a lovely plate to serve it!
    Also in your previous post, yum to that salad in a beautiful bowl!
    Happy autumn to you and congrats on winning the first "No Croutons Required". Holler and Lisa are doing a fantastic job with their new challenge. Cannot wait for this month's "spicy soups"!

  12. Wonderful, just wonderful. And yes, you can have another piece of chocolate cake!

    Congratulations on your No Croutons win! (It's a real winner that recipe...your dumplings are very spunky) I've been so busy this weekend...have been meaning to get in touch to congratulate you...

    Well done!

  13. thanks Jenn - indeed, great name, great music and now the band has inspired me to make a great cake!

    thanks Katie - I do love spices in a chocolate cake!

    thanks Deb - prunes are always great in a cake - and the bowl in the previous post is actually a bowl I bought in turkey so is quite special to me.

    thank you lucy - hope life is easing off for you so you have more time for dumplings :-)

  14. Aaah! that's such a yummy name for a band!! just like your chocolate cake Johanna:)

  15. as a huge fan of green & blacks from our time living in the uk, i am very excited to read about this cake. our house always has a bar of maya gold even now! i will definitely be trying this - thanks for sharing!

    (on the combo of chocolate and prunes people have mentioned:we made prune & chocolate brownies on the weekend and they were a hit - i am a convert to this flavour pairing!)

  16. thanks Mansi - it was indeed yummy cake

    thanks frances - now I like the sound of a household that always has a bar of maya gold in it!

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