I am definitely a greenhorn when it comes to baking. Most of the time, although my cakes turn out tasting all right, my repertoire has always been limited to regular non-frosted cakes. That’s why today’s cake is a milestone for me. Of all the cakes that have ever emerged from my humble little oven, THIS has got to be the most photogenic of them all.
It’s the first time I have ever frosted an entire cake, and naturally I wanted to start with the least challenging. I found the perfect role model in Nigella, who plainly admitted (in her Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake episode) that although she loved frosting a cake, it was not something she was terribly good at. Good to know she is as human as we are!
I took the cue from her and frosted my cake using small swirls, to give it – in her words – “a homemade, slightly messy look”. I thought that was a smashing idea! A forgiving style was just what I needed. So yes, although my cake was far, far from picture perfect, it certainly looked “old-fashioned” and very “homemade” indeed.
I tweaked my favouriteSteamed Moist Chocolate Cake recipe this time, just to experiment and see if I could concoct something better:
– substituted butter with a healthier blend of canola/olive oil
– used fresh milk in place of evaporated milk
– added 1/4 tsp of salt
– added 1 sachet of instant coffee to give the cake some kick
– used a completely different recipe for the frosting altogether
I made this cake for someone’s birthday today. I’m happy to say, the birthday girl and my kids loved it. And yes, it is true, coffee does enhance the flavour of chocolate, albeit subtly. It gives the cake depth. I think I might even add an extra sachet of instant coffee the next time!
A little digression: steamed cakes are nothing new. Before the advent of the electric oven, cakes were traditionally made by steaming rather than baking. Steaming actually has many benefits: the cake retains its moisture beautifully, there is no risk of burning, and seldom do you see a cracked top. Well, if you don’t have an oven at home, give this cake a try!
Finally, I want to credit the person who came up with the original recipe. It’s such an easy, fool-proof cake, even my 10-year old daughter can make it. Whoever you are, if you’re reading this, I think you’re brilliant.
Steamed Moist Chocolate Cake (Improved Version)
– 1/2 cup light oil (I used Fairprice’s brand of Canola/Olive Oil blend)
* If you prefer butter, please refer to the originalrecipe
– 225g (1 cup) castor sugar
– 200ml fresh milk (just about 1/2 cup)
– 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a folk
– 110g plain flour (about 1 cup … I used cake flour for a lighter texture)
– 60g good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 packet instant coffee (I used 1 sachet Nescafe 2-in-1 which is 11g)
1. Heat up your steamer or wok before making the cake.
2. Line and grease a 9-inch pan.
(A) Combine castor sugar, fresh milk and instant coffee in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. You do NOT need to come to a boil. Once all ingredients are combined, turn off the fire and leave it on the stove to cool.
(B) In the meantime, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.
4. Once (A) is cooled*, add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract and oil, and mix thoroughly. Finally, pour the entire mixture into the cocoa/flour and stir till well combined. The final batter should be runny.
* Very important that (A) is cooled before you add the eggs, else you will cook the eggs and end up with custard!
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it in the steamer. Make sure that your cake tin is NOT touching the water. Cover the top of the pan loosely with a sheet of aluminium foil.
6. Steam over medium heat for 45mins.
7. Cool the cake in pan before turning out for further decoration.
Chocolate Frosting (adapted fromhere and here)
– 100g semisweet chocolate
– 115g unsalted butter
– 300g confectioner’s sugar (I would reduce this to 260g next time)
– 1 tsp of vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup milk (added slowly until desired consistency is achieved)
Combine the chocolate and butter in abain-marie and let them melt. In another bowl, combine sugar and vanilla extract, then add in melted chocolate. Add in milk a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved. You do not need to finish using up the milk. Let frosting cool and thicken before decorating your cake. Frost your cake in small swirls if you’re a novice like me 😉 Chill frosted cake immediately upon completion.