Saturday, 18 April 2015

Saturday special: Chocolate bean cake

One of my favourite aspects of being a cook is something I call the chef's prerogative. It is the absolute control the cook has over what is happening in their kitchen; the ability to call the shots over whatever's made because they are the only one who knows what they're doing! It is the chef's prerogative to keep all the bowl lickings for themselves (if they wish) because they put the time and love into making the cake (it's ok, I do let my children lick the bowl, but I also have my fair share!) It is also chef's prerogative to decide what they want to cook and which ingredients to use if they are the only one who puts time into making the decision. This means that the cook can set before his eaters whatever takes his fancy. It also means one has a captive audience, so to speak, on which to experiment!

One of my favourite ways of testing this situation is to bake a cake, down in my little end of the kitchen where others only venture to pester me (the boys) or secretly eat chocolate while the children are still at the dinner table (husb!) I can put all manner of interesting ingredients into a cake, and no-one will know until it is set in front of them, and they slice into it with their cake fork, bring it to their lips, open wide and take a big bite. The Tonjus will just shovel it in and ask for more, although sometimes the older one can be more discerning, and even not like cakes which I really expect him to. This is to do with his taste though, not the inclusion of unusual ingredients. Husb, however, suspecting nothing, will take a bite and then start to look puzzled. He will then look at me and ask what I've put in it; usually, "what kind of vegetable is in here?"

This cake is one such. It took my eye because of the brownie-like appearance of the surface in the book photograph. However, it includes kidney beans as a main ingredient, I believe maybe as a butter substitute. It also contains that wonderful, minisculely-grained rice flour, of which I was so enamoured when I made the fruity soda bread last Saturday.

Here are all the ingredients for one of the easiest cake recipes ever.

After washing the kidney beans under a running tap...

You simply throw all the measured ingredients into a blender...

I just included this one to show you how I tidy up as I go along, putting all the used ingredients back into the baking cupboard which is located immediately behind me. I find it just makes life less confusing when checking what ingredients one has added.

Look at those lovely layers!

At the point of blasting, little Tonju woke up, so I gave him the pleasure of turning the blasting knob.

Nervous anticipation!

The mixture became beautifully smooth looking, though there were still small lumps of kidney bean in the final cooked cake. These weren't unpleasant though, in case you were feeling somewhat repelled at finding kidney bean in a cake!

My 20cm cake tin is lined with one of those fantastic silicone cake tin liners which does away with cutting out baking paper; I bought it in Dunelm Mill quite some time ago. The only thing is, they are only suitable for the size tin for which they are made. I still need an 18cm and a 23cm one.

Some quick snaps before the hoards descended.

I bought these sweet cake forks in a clearance in Tesco a couple of years ago. I only bought one set of four, but I wish I'd bought two sets. The napkins are from fantastic Ikea.

The first slice

As you can see from this photo, the cake was moist, but, paradoxically, it was also a little dry, definitely due the inclusion of the kidney beans. But we definitely enjoyed it; a mild tasting chocolate, certainly not overly sweet, and nicely filling with no post-chocolate cake guilt to follow. If I was going to do one thing differently, if would be to give it maybe two or three minutes less in the oven to retain a little more moisture.

Here, husb is considering what on earth the unexpected taste could be. I kept reiterating the fact that it was a chocolate bean cake, so he went through all the beans he knew: green beans, runner beans, baked beans (!) until I came clean.

So do you enjoy experimenting with unusual cake ingredients? What vegetables have you put in a cake before, and how did their inclusion affect the taste, texture and consistency? Most importantly, did the recipients enjoy it? Along these lines, I have a little audience participation activity for whoever is interested, but I haven't got it fully planned yet. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for details though; I hope to have something concrete planned within the next couple of weeks.

Thanks so much again for getting to here. I know time is precious, and if you've read, you've given me some of yours - I am grateful :)

xxx Sam

Recipe: Chocolate bean cake from River Cottage Light and Easy

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