Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cake Therapy

Yesterday was one of those days when a big disappointment slapped me right in the face.  Something I had hoped for didn't pan out.  I was miserable. Before I got the bad news, an intense morning session at the gym probably dissipated most of the bad energy that would have festered throughout the rest of the day.  So, I got the bad news, and yes, I was disappointed, but decided to focus on the positives in my life, including very good friends to talk with to help process the news.  As luck would have it, there was an extended power outage at work yesterday which provided the perfect opportunity to go have that conversation, one flight up above my own office.  We found a nook illuminated not only by natural light but by a heart-to-heart discussion about what really matters in life.  The take-away from that time with my friends is that I have nothing to complain about, and my bruised ego will take on lighter shades until it is all but imperceptible.

In the process of healing wounded egos, my mind turns to creating, usually in the form of baking.  It gets me completely involved and when I bake, it's absolutely necessary to pay attention to details like the right ingredients, measurements, and all the things I have to do to make sure my little project is a success.  Baking does not allow time or brain space to focus on troubles and is a great buffer from the sometimes too-real world.  It's like playing Jewel Quest, which provides an excellent 10-minute vacation from reality every now and then (readers know I am somewhat addicted to the free web version of the game!).   Of course, the best antidote to a troubled day is spending time with Henry, who runs toward me with open arms and a bright smile.  THAT is the best, and the fact that his mom, my daughter Katie, invited me down for a warm and comforting dinner...

My buddy...

So, second best to time with my favorite rug rat is making a cake.  Cake Therapy.  It has to be chocolate (otherwise, what therapy could it provide?) and it has to be quick. This recipe from food goddess Nigella Lawson provides as much chocolate as can possibly be infused into a cake.  It's from her book Feast and if this doesn't cure what ails me, nothing will!  Keep in mind that the directions are Nigella's, not mine, just in case you think I've taken on a sudden British essence!  Nope, this Irish-American girl puts forth no pretention in what she offers you!

Nigella Lawson, Feast


    1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup cocoa
    1 1/3 cups sugar
    1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
    1/3 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup boiling water
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or morsels

    1 teaspoon cocoa
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1-ounce dark chocolate (from a thick bar if possible), cut into splinters of varying thickness, for garnish

Special equipment: 2-pound loaf tin (approximately 9 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inches deep), lined with greased foil, pressed into the corners and with some overhang at the top. Alternatively, substitute a silicon loaf tin, no foil lining necessary.


Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, putting in a baking sheet as you do so.

Put the flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into the processor and blitz until a smooth, satiny brown batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Switch it off, then remove the lid and the well-scraped double-bladed knife and, still using your rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips or morsels.

Scrape and pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and put into the oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle and a cake-tester will pretty well come out clean.

Not long before the cake is due out of the oven (when it has had about 45 to 50 minutes), put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes, to give a thick syrup.

Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack, still in the tin, and pierce here and there with a cake tester. Pour the syrup over the cake.

Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin, removing the foil as you do so. Sit on an oblong or other plate. Sprinkle the chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of the cake.

Photo of Henry:  by Grandma

Photo and recipe credit:  The Food Network:


  1. Sorry for your temporary disappointment, but I am so very proud of you for putting a spin on it and seeing the positives along with the negatives. You are always surrounded by caring, loving and supportive friends because you reap what you sow. I wish that I had been among your 'cheerleaders'.
    Love you,

  2. Thanks Di - you are always there, a very wonderful port for every storm my family has ever faced, and I am truly grateful for your friendship, love, and support. xoxoxox

  3. Busy hands really do keep the mind off our troubles..and you are right, the smile and hug from a child is oh so empowering. You are so important to that precious handsome little guy. I believe "bad news" isn't always bad in the end. Everything is for a reason..
    Love you,