They were remarkably fresh, too, notwithstanding their great exertions: for, on the appearance of the dessert, they broke out again, as if nothing serious had taken place since breakfast.
– Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
France has certainly been wrapped up, engrossed and submerged in World Cup soccer. Football. After France's colossal win in 1998 that united a country and their fall from grace in 2010, embarrassing an entire country, the newly formed and coached team, seemingly humbler, more cohesive and definitely playing better for it, has entranced the French. The performance of Les Bleus has gripped a nation. The cheers rise up in unison across our city, throughout the country, swell and push out from living rooms and bars and into the streets, the squares, the excitement and energy palpable, making this World Cup even more exciting.
Meanwhile, Sunday was my older son's birthday and I wonder if that swell of music, voices singing in unison not for the les bleus but in a devotional chant as if a crowd had taken to the streets in some religious procession, I wonder if that swell of music, heavenly choir, angelic tones, was for my son's special day although I presume not but I could not for the life of me figure out what it was for.
What to buy for the man who has everything? I offered to take son shopping. Husband and I had roamed the streets of the city, popping into the occasional shop, discussing and mulling over possibilities as we walked yet we could come up with nothing. For the man who has such rich and particular tastes. And buys for himself all that he desires. And who is off for two months traveling through Italy and Senegal before returning home and settling into post-Masters, full time work. But what a bust! He cannot think ahead, peer into the future and begin a brand spanking new work wardrobe. No, he can only think in the immediate, the "what I want and can use now" state of mind. And as he needs nothing, I put away my wallet, saved my pennies and baked him a cake.
But he has hunkered down and buried himself in his work, preparing his fifth-year architecture project, the final countdown, that he is presenting before a jury on the fourth of July. So I baked a cake and he didn't come over. So we ate it. And now I am thinking of a chocolate chiffon pie for when he stops by end of the week.
DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen as seen on Jennifer's blog Milk and Honey
For the Cake:
50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
100 g dark muscovado (packed) sugar
250 ml boiling water
125 g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing the pans
150 g golden caster sugar
225 g plain flour (I used cake flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
For the Frosting:
30g dark muscovado sugar
175g unsalted butter, cubed
300g dark chocolate buttons or chopped chocolate
Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of two 20cm round cake pans with baking paper. Set aside.
In a medium size bowl, mix the cocoa powder, muscovado sugar and boiling water together until smooth. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and golden caster sugar for about 5 - 6 minutes until pale and creamy.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Set aside.
Add the vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture. While the mixer is still running, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in the cocoa mixture.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting:
Put the water, sugar and butter into a pan on low heat to melt.
Once melted, take it off the heat, add the chocolate, leave to stand for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Leave for 1 hour, mixing now and then, until it is a spreadable consistency. (I let it come to room temperature and then chilled it in the refrigerator until firm then whisked with an electric mixer until fluffy.)
Assemble the Cake:
Put one cake onto a cake plate, spread with about 1/3 of the frosting. Top with the second cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake.