3 August 2008

Aint No Sunshine


Another day, another chocolate cake. Seriously, I've eaten more chocolate cake in the last month than I normally do in a year. It has continued to rain steadily in Wellington - indeed, over the whole country - and there was even a sizeable slip not far from where my flat is. But on Saturday morning I felt the oddest sensation. I woke up with the sun streaming through the windows. I didn't know what to do with myself at the sight of blue sky. I felt like a babushka from Old Rumania, shucking off my winter cloak to prepare for the feasting of Springtide. Well, it wasn't so much "sunny" as "not raining" but Tim and I took the opportunity to zoom into town to do some jobs and that afternoon, while there was still more blue than grey in the sky, I made a cake.

I had some cream cheese leftover from the cheesecake I made for Tearaway magazine, and although it would have been entirely more economical to use it in some pasta sauce or something, I decided to build a chocolate cake around it. And no, I didn't use it in the icing, which is more conventional, but in the actual cake mix. The recipe comes from the bountiful Nigella's Feast, a cookbook which keeps on giving. No matter how much batter I shmeer on it, its pages never get stuck together. No matter how many times I read it, I always find something new I want to make now. In this case, the Tropical Chocolate Cake, which hosts an intriguing mix of pineapple, chocolate and coconut flavours.

I decided to modify Nigella's method somewhat. She makes an enticing two-layer cake sandwiched and slathered with a coconut meringue frosting. She says, a little snippily, to "lose the Bounty connection" if the idea of meringue palls somewhat, but I decided against it because I just couldn't be bothered. Instead I made one bigger, bungalow-type cake smothered in a coconut custard buttercream. Still sounds good, right? In fact that's all I'm-a talk about today, uncharacteristically. Because this cake is the only thing I've managed to get decent photos of.

Above: This isn't exactly photographically sound, but then the food-processor shots don't really have to be, do they? In fact they don't even offer anything at all; they are what my media studies lecturer would call a "kernel," that is, a sort of light, C-plot segment that doesn't move the narrative forward but offers light relief from the main thrust of the action. Consider yourself schooled!

Tropical Chocolate Cake, adapted slightly from Feast

1x400g can pineapple pieces in juice
75g cream cheese
200g butter, pretty soft
200g flour
100g sugar
100g brown sugar
40g cocoa
2 eggs
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 T malibu or juice from the can of pineapple

Set the oven to 180 C (360 F) and line a 23cm Springform. First you want to whizz up the pineapple and cream cheese. Then add the rest of the ingredients, scraping occasionally with a spatula. Pour this alluringly delicious mix into the caketin, bake for roughly 40 minutes, maybe more. And uhm, that's it. Simple, no?

I iced it with a mixture of 40g butter, 1 T custard powder, enough icing sugar to turn it into a cohesive substance, 1 t coconut essence, and a tablespoon each of milk and water. And then I thought I might as well dust it with chocolate sprinkles that I found in the cupboard. They were a year or two past their best before date, but how bad can sprinkles get?

It is moist, fragrant, delicious, and a genius combination of flavours. Very summery too, with elements of Pina Colada and Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen. This hardly a bad thing; I say this as someone who can happily pass several minutes' time sitting there inhaling the scent of a bottle of SPF 40+ (truly, it's gooood.) As soon as I finished taking the photos of the cake it started raining again and hasn't really stopped (it's now Monday.)

Since the little tacker was so popular last time, and because Tim managed to catch this doozy of a picture, I thought we could be graced by the presence of *cough*Oscar the non-existent kitty*cough*.

I love that flagrant disdain he has for the laws of, you know, breathing.

Next time: well, the bread photos weren't so crash-hot, hence their lack of presence here. Who knows?


  1. Love the photo of the cat - and cake. One of them looks delicious.

  2. Cake looks divine, cat looks purrfect heh, heh. Am finally sending you my fav. steam pudding recipe from the Anglican Church (Waiuku) "Country cooking' cookbook. (was your great grandmother's). Finally got to see Rent also, lent from the workmate's husband. Watched it three times, plus the commentary and it certainly grows on you.

  3. Hey the pics look great, I thought you had camera trouble?

    Anyways, once again you showered me with chocolate cake madness. Why don't you pay your loans and professors with cake? We're talking instant A's here...

    Love the Hawaiian Tropics plug... I would eat that stuff it wasn't toxic... or sunscreen :)

  4. Nice photo of the cat. I like the sound of a chocolate cake with pineapple.

  5. Oh, my little babushka - you are on a cake run and I LOVE IT. This one looks sinful and debaucherous, which I love, of course.

    And there is non-existent Oscar in his face-plant position yet again! What the f? SO CUTE.

  6. I love the cat! How the heck does he do that?

    The cake looks fabulous! I really need some chocolate cake, and you just keep posting them, hehe!

  7. Mum: Which one? lol. Emailing you later :)
    Lynn: Got the pudding email, it sounds delicious! Can't wait to try it. So glad you like Rent, especially that you watched the commentary!
    Adam: I've been trying to take pix in natural light with Tim's old digi, there's so many night-time rejects lol. And ooh, bribery, good idea! :)
    Kevin: He's a good subject. You should definitely try the cake!
    Ann: Wtf indeed! And I love the word babushka lol.
    Elle: Hee thanks. And I have noooo idea how he manages to breathe like that.

  8. awesome cat, and cake!:-)

  9. yesh, we finally got sunshine in Christchurch yesterday! it actually HURT my eyes! Fabulous!

    Lol, I thought I was weird for drinking pina colada tea.

  10. Oscette is so cute! See you tonight! YAY SUNSHINE! After three weeks of rain I am seriously considering taking up Sun-Worship

  11. Disturbing to hear of so many slips in Wellington - in your area - in student flats clinging to the side of the hill. Make sure your Nigella-alia is in a handy place for grabbing in an emergency evacuation..... "Saaaaave Feeeeeeeeeeast......" should not be the last words you utter as you hastily depart. Oscar could be a kind of seismic-indicator. When he/she pops his/her head up for air and skedaddles -it could be a sign.

    Thanks for the surprise gift of tumeric in the parcel- enough to paint my kitchen yellow. Will try to incorporate it in something culinary as well. My other packet (you must have bought it for I certainly didn't) is past its use by date and is only suitable for ant extermination or deterrent. I have already discovered ants do not enjoy being circled by a trail of tumeric. I found this experiment disturbingly satisfying.

  12. Was watching an English cooking programme the other day about people wanting to get their recipes into that large food store in England (name escapes me for now) and the girl that went into the finals had a recipe for quinoa salad!!
    Anyway, great to hear that you are coming up in a couple of weeks, hope you can make it a 3 nighter not 2!

  13. I find that sometimes "light relief from the main thrust of the action" is quite important and can mean you can go on for longer

  14. Love the look of the cake. You can never have too many you know!
    What a cat!!!

  15. Lol - that cat pic made me smile - nice job as I've just got to work ;)

    Now all you need to do is wire me down a slice of that cake and I'll be quite content!

  16. Tinned pineapple in a chocolate cake - hmmmm, I'm very intrigued. I think I'd like to make it even more tropical by adding toasted coconut to the mix... thanks Laura! (and Nigella!)

  17. That cake looks absolutely delish and love the pic of the kitten ;o)