An Unusual Chocolate Cake

And because chocolate doesn’t really count as the fattening, artery thickening food stuff that I discussed in my previous post, here is a recipe for a cake that I made at the weekend, that, whilst it wasn’t great the next day (egg white rich cakes can become dry if not mixed with a little flour or butter), it was high on novelty appeal (for me at least): Chocolate Pumpernickel Torte.
I was fortunate in that we had some Rye Bread left over (and the recipe states you can use Rye if you don’t have pure pumpernickel and it is still difficult to locate around these parts). I love Rye Bread. I used to abhor the taste of the Rye or Pumpernickel Bread but many of you British readers will remember that, at one point, you could only get a close approximation of Pumpernickel in a brick sized slab which resembled neutronium. These days though, you can get some deliciously light Rye Bread, flavoured with Caraway Seeds, which is wonderful toasted or as the ‘jacket’ for my favourite American sandwich, the Rubens (or at least a close British approximation of it, using Pastrami instead of Corned Beef). What the bread does for this not-as-naughty-as-it-feels-dessert, is give it that delicate Caraway flavour which is incredibly unusual but very moreish.
Eastern European breads aside, this torte, which visually seems to imitate a sunken brick, is incredibly light and studded with nuggets of dark, dark chocolate and hazelnuts. It is a perfect dinner party dessert if you have gluten intolerant guests and would be best served with some single cream or crème fraiche and perhaps some raspberries (but not a redcurrant garnish!).
I culled this recipe from a wonderful book called the Chocolate Book by Helge Rubinstein, published in 1981. It is out of print for some unknown reason and deserves a reprint for it is a wealth of historical facts, dreamy chocolate data and out of this world recipes, including some savoury dishes using cacao. I strongly recommend this book for all chocoholics everywhere!
6 Eggs Separated
175g Caster Sugar
4 tablespoons Rum or Sherry
Pinch Salt
100g Pumpernickel or good quality Dark Rye bread
125g Dark Chocolate, good quality
25g Walnuts or Hazelnuts (optional)
Preheat Oven to 190c.
Whisk the Egg Yolks with half the sugar until pale and frothy. Whisk in the rum or sherry.
Whisk the Egg Whites with a pinch of salt until starting to softly peak. Pour in the rest of the sugar and whisk until peaking stiffly. It helps if you have an extra pair of hands at this point: one to whisk the whites and one to whisk the yolks other you do rather get repetitive strain injury (unless you use an electric whisk and I do recommend you use it if you have one!).
In a food processor (I had to do it by hand as I don’t have one!), finely chop the pumpernickel, chocolate and hazelnuts.
Fold the chocolate crumb mixture into the egg yolks thoroughly, then gently fold in, using a large metal spoon, the egg whites.
Pour into a well-buttered 9” springform tin and bake for about 25-30 minutes. I am deliberately vague about the times because the original recipe states the cooking time to be 50-60 minutes but after 30 minutes it had started to fragrance the kitchen and it had just caught around the edges. However, my oven is more temperamental than a cobra in a sack so I always have to err on the side of caution. I suggest checking after about 25 minutes or when you start to smell it cooking.
When you think it’s done, open the oven-door, turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. It will sink in the middle and look dark on the outside but when you cut into it, it will be a pale, open-textured sponge, studded with the chocolate/Pumpernickel crumb. Serve in small slices with single cream and raspberries.


Shaun said...

Freya - You have a knack from drawing from the depths unusual yet workable finds - one of the main reasons I check your blog daily. When I first moved to the U.S., I could not get enough of pumpernickel bagels. I should have thought that though "done with" bagels, I need not have stricken pumpernickel from my diet. I am intrigued by the addition of hazelnuts, which are presently available all over the place. I might work on a version or two for Christmas...

FreyaE said...

Hi Shaun! Glad you enjoy the recipes. I do try and go for things that might seem a bit 'hmm' because I have often found these ones to be the hidden gems in a cookbook.
I think that if I was to make this cake again, I might consider toasting the pumpernickel crumbs with some demerara sugar first so that they give you a crunchy-caramel hit in the cake.
Luck you having Pumpernickel Bagels - onion is the most exotic addition we have here!!
Have you received your new cookbooks yet? Freya

Francesca said...

wonderful cake slurp!

FreyaE said...

Francesca, the cake is wonderful! Thanks for your comment! Freya