Out with the old.
You know how it is when you are trapped in the festive doldrums. That horrible slump. The grey mood-vacuum sandwiched in between the child-like wonder and excitement of Christmas Day and the rowdy shindiggery of New Year’s Eve. There always seems to be so little going on. You’ve had the big festive pay off from the months of planning. The turkey dinner and Boxing Day buffet have long since been eaten and the leftovers packed away in the freezer for the obligatory curry sometime down the line. Even the sweets and treats are starting to become a chore rather than a pleasure. Friends and family are taking a few days off to recuperate. Recharging the batteries before the partying and fireworks kick in on the 31st. Old father time is slowly shuffling his weary bones towards the exit but there are still a couple of days yet before Baby New Year is delivered, all fresh-faced and hopeful. There isn’t even anything good to watch on the telly. The schedulers have forgotten to save any decent programmes for when we really need them. *Sigh*. Well when all else fails and I’m at a loose end I can usually rely on a spot of baking to lift my spirits. It would be just the ticket to pass a few hours on a humdrum afternoon. And besides. What better excuse could there be than to use old faithful to see off the old year in style?
In with the new.
The recipe I decided to try had tickled my curiosity because it seemed quite unusual. Most of the recipes for Bundt cakes that I have come across are fairly standard fare using the creaming method. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. All-in-one cakes, batter cakes or the melting method would not be that much of a shock. But this cake was odd to me. You started out by making what was essentially the eggy beginnings of a Genoese cake. A bit like a big sticky meringue. I’ve used that method before for fairly flat cakes. Tray bakes or layer cakes. I just wasn’t sure how it would turn out for a Bundt cake. You gently fold all of the other ingredients into the egg mixture. Grated mint chocolate, flour and such. Nothing too surprising. But finally you have to add whipped double cream. Now I’ve made fresh cream Bundts before. I would never have expected to whisk the cream though. I felt sure that would make the cake mixture too stiff. But it does you good occasionally to challenge yourself with a new method or ingredient to keep up the interest levels. So off I went. Making sure everything was incorporated while trying not to knock out too much of the air. You have to spend so much time whipping air into the mixture because those self-same air bubbles are mostly what will give this cake its rise. And I really wanted this cake to rise. Because it was bad enough that my mood was so very flat without the cake joining in too.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have lift off.
The making of the cake went smoothly. The biggest annoyance was when I scraped the batter into the cake tin. The recipe called for a 9 cup Bundt so I opted for my vaulted dome. But there was barely enough mixture to come halfway up the sides. I couldn’t very well scrape the mixture back out again so all I could do was bake the cake as it was and put the recipe in the file marked ‘you can’t win them all’. But I needn’t have worried. As the minutes ticked by the cake crept slowly but surely up the sides of the tin until it had almost doubled in size. Joyful. Admittedly, it fell just shy of the rim but not so much as you would notice. And the cake looked really well when it was turned out. Mostly due to the fact that having had so many problems lately with my homemade cake release paste I had invested in some rather expensive ready-made spray by PME. It even says professional on the can. I’ll be the judge of that thank you very much. But do you know what? If I had known just how effective the shop bought cake release was I would not have struggled on for so long with the homemade variety. It worked so well that the tin lifted straight off after 20 minutes, no worries.
A tin to bake it in.
I really wanted to test the cake release spray AND the recipe. That’s why I chose to use the Nordic Ware Vaulted Dome Bundt tin. A real beauty. It’s slightly smaller than a normal Bundt tin and comes in at nine cups. That’s about two and a quarter litres in English money. I’ve only used it once before. The tin is not overly intricate but it has delicate little ridges on the top. Even when my homemade cake paste was working I would often have to bash my tins – either with a wooden spoon or on the counter top – to try to loosen the cake from the inside. Failing that I might have to shake it like a madman for 10 minutes to try and persuade the cake to come out. Those ridges would never have stood a chance. And the paste would run down during baking and collect as little pools too. It sometimes made for shabby cakes that had more holes than a lump of Swiss cheese. The PME cake release has been worth every penny so far. It really does give you more professional looking cakes with a smoother finish. And most importantly – IT WORKS. It’s far too soon to say it’s perfect but I will definitely be using it for all of my cakes in future. This choc ‘n’ mint Bundt was a very tasty way to turn a bah humbug day into something mint imperial. And it might be quite different to what you are used to. But if you do want to try something new then I’m sure you will agree. This cake is not just fresh. It’s minty fresh. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
Choc ‘N’ Mint Bundt.
- 100g Mint Chocolate.
- 200g Plain Flour.
- 1½ tsp Baking Powder.
- ¼ tsp Salt.
- 4 Large Eggs.
- About 2g Green Food Colouring Gel (optional).
- 270g Caster Sugar.
- 250ml Double Cream.
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract.
- 1 tsp Peppermint Extract.
- Icing Sugar (for dusting).
- Chop the chocolate very finely. Place on a plate lined with greaseproof paper and set aside in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. (I found it easier to grate the chocolate using a rotary grater).
- Place a shelf one position down from centre in the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4. Prepare a NINE cup Bundt tin. I used the Nordic Ware Vaulted Dome.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Using the whisk attachment in your stand mixer – beat the eggs and food colouring (if using) on a medium-high speed until thick and mousse-like. At least five minutes.
- Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until all the sugar has been incorporated.
- In a separate bowl – whip the double cream, vanilla and peppermint extract together until the mixture holds in soft peaks. Try not to over beat.
- Using a hand-held balloon whisk – gently fold the flour into the whipped eggs in three batches until just combined, taking care not to knock too much air out of the mixture.
- Add the finely chopped chocolate and gently fold in until evenly distributed, trying not to over mix.
- Add the double cream and fold together until incorporated, trying not to over mix but making sure there are no streaks.
- Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Try to push the mixture up the sides of the tin a little to help the cake rise evenly.
- Bake for 55 minutes or until the cake is pulling away from the sides of the tin slightly and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Mine took 65 minutes.
- Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Dust with icing sugar just before serving.