French cake a week – Gateau au chocolat

Gateau au chocolat

In which Claire, who doesn’t speak French, bakes her way through the cake section of a 1962 french cookbook. Well! Today was the first day of school. You know I could talk about the ache of time passing, and how fast summers go, and days and months and years go. You know I could talk about regret for every wasted moment this summer, regret that I did anything but play with my boys, or take them places you can only go in the summer – creeks and rivers and wild wooded trails. I could talk about my trip to the doctor with Isaac yesterday, when they did a simple ultrasound of his belly and neck, but the technician let him see his heart beating, and it nearly did me in, with its strength and fragility, nestled in his beautiful rib cage, in his beautiful pale growing body. I could talk about how last night he was up a lot in the middle of the night, worrying about the first day of school and spiders crawling through the hole in his screen, and how I cuddled with him for a few minutes, and liked the feeling of his little hands holding my ears for comfort. But then I needed sleep, so I kissed him and left him whimpering in his bed. And then I had nightmares about leaving the boys to sleep in the basement of a horrible apartment building, while David and I slept upstairs, scared of our neighbors. I could talk about the rich, hot summer passing, and how we long for sharp smoky autumn. But, oddly, I didn’t have any time today, despite the fact that I had seven hours all to myself for the first time in months. So I made a playlist of Antoine Forqueray and Marin Marais, and I’ll let them tell you about it all. This is what I grew up calling Late French Viol Music. It’s from the 18th century. It’s ridiculously beautiful. Wistful, hopeful, like late summer, like autumn. They know about time passing.

This music has always felt like red wine and dark chocolate, to me. Which brings us to our French-cake-a-week. I’ve been trying to do all the simple ones, so this week I did the simple Gateau au chocolat. It’s a lovely flourless chocolate cake. But it does have quite a bit of corn starch, which I found surprising. The cake is extremely simple – and like the last few cakes, it has no leavening, but it got tall and puffy anyway. David said it’s crispy on top, then moist, then cakey. It’s like every good kind of brownie mixed in one cake. I don’t have a bundt pan, so I invented one with a quart-sized souffle dish with a little souffle cup, open-side up, buttered into the bottom. I made a strange looking cake! But lovely and tasty. We ate it with vanilla-flavored whipped cream, but it’s a cake that would be perfect for any of your simple cake needs. With berries, with creme anglaise, in a trifle…

Gateau au chocolat

Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray, as played by Jordi Savall, the genius.

1 stick salted butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup corn starch
3 hole eggs

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the chocolate chips and stir till melted. Remove from heat and Pour into a bowl. Add the sugar, and beat well until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time. Add the corn starch and beat until completely smooth.

Pour into a bundt pan that’s been buttered and floured. (I didn’t have a bundt pan, so I put a small souffle cup in the middle. I buttered the bottom to stick it down, and Malcolm helped me hold it still while I poured the batter in. I think it worked well, though I did end up with a very funny looking cake!)

Preheat the oven 265. Put the cake in the middle of the oven and bake for an hour and a half. It should puff up and pull away from the sides a little, but a skewer stuck in the middle might still have a bit of cake on it, cause it’s dense!


2 thoughts on “French cake a week – Gateau au chocolat

  1. Pingback: French cake a week – Gateau chipolata | Out of the Ordinary

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