In 1996 my mother bought me a cookbook.
The book titled ‘YUM’ by Terry Durack, a well known Australian food writer and critic, still commands prime position on my now heavily laden shelf, 20 years on. There are several reasons for this. The most important one being the recipe for his Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake.
The binding of the book has long fallen from its cover. There are smudges of chocolate over its pages. The paper it was printed on is looking a dull shade of
white yellow, but still this book remains on my shelf. Why? Because it’s the best darn chocolate cake I’ve ever baked!
I practically know the recipe off by heart, (I’ve baked it so many times), yet I still take the book out each time and savour those smudges, those faded pages, and the reminiscing it invokes of all the times I’ve cooked and eaten this cake from this cookbook.
I was a third year apprentice chef, learning the ways of the kitchen, and how to thrive in (at the time) a male dominated industry, when I was given this book. Lets say it has sentimental value. ‘Yum’ reminds me of long hard days working in professional kitchens, being young and free, learning to cook, and what makes a good recipe. And my Mother, it reminds me of my Mother.
But the Miraculous flour-less chocolate cake recipe, lets talk about that! I think it’s the fudge like consistency that I’m most attracted to. It’s never dry like some flour based chocolate cakes can be. The blending of melted chocolate, butter and almond meal feels strong, and then the folding of whisked egg whites makes it light.
For me, the importance of good cook books are the memories they can invoke. We’ve all been exposed to many an average cookbook. You know the ones. Someone gains a little celebrity status and they then write a cookbook book full of over saturated recipes trying to make us believe they are experts in the felid of cooking. Those cookbooks leave me feeling uninspired.
‘Yum’ on the other hand is of a different era, where cookbooks were peoples life work; recipes they’d been cooking for years. Recipes of substance and worth.
To quote Terry Durack, in reference to his Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake recipe he says ‘I borrowed it from Jill Dupleix, who borrowed it from Elizabeth David, who borrowed it from the French. It taught me the value of borrowing recipes’.
And his words in turn taught me the value of sharing recipes. Enjoy!
The Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake
(Adapted slightly from ‘Yum’ – Terry Durack)
200g 70% cocoa dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
150g butter, diced
100g ground almonds (almond meal)
5 free range eggs, separated
Dutch cocoa or icing sugar
Cream or ice-cream
Pre heat oven to 175C Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate, sugar and butter in a bowl sitting on a pot of simmering water.
Remove from heat, stir thoroughly to combine. Mix in the ground almonds, then beat in the egg yolks one by one.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and stir a couple of spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, before gently folding in the rest.
Pour into the cake tin, and bake for 40 minutes.
Leave to cool slightly before removing from tin. Dust with cocoa, or icing sugar, or eat as is. Serve with cream or ice cream.