I’ll start with a little expat-whining. Sometimes it is so damn hard to be a foreigner in your new ‘home’ country which is neither “home” nor truly “your”, if you know what I mean. Little things become difficult, especially when you don’t speak the language. For instance, going to the dentist becomes a whole tragedy (like it wasn’t hard enough before when you were simply frightened of pain). No, now you don’t fear pain anymore, because you’ve learnt how to say “I’m neurotic and I’m really scared and I need a double dose of whatever anesthesia shot that you have” in your new language but now you have to always bring a company for translation, because there are so many things you can not explain. You can not explain the degree of pain that you feel or your dental history, or your allergies, or anything important for that matter. This covers going to any other doctor. And when they prescribe you pills that you don’t know, you come home and search the ingredients and different brand names to find an english leaflet and make sure everything is in order. It is uncomfortable and time-consuming.
You can also add here:
hairdressers and beauty parlors (don’t start me on this one..)
yoga classes (turns out it gets very stressful and non-relaxing when all you understand is simple “inhale” and “close your eyes” stuff)
asking for anything special in the shops
This is where shops with minimum human interaction come in handy. Supermarkets, Ikea (yes, please), self-service pharmacies (where you have enough time to read and google it at the same time). Well, everything, except for a weekly Sunday pazar (market). Vegetables, spices, fruits, nuts and freshly baked simit – I have no problem speaking Turkish in this department :) Oh, and clothes/shoes shopping – turns out my vocabulary is enough for this one as well.
Anyway. This post is about Chocolate Cake. Chocolate cake made from scratch with no mixer or any special kitchen equipment. Chocolate cake that tastes like heaven – 2 layers with a thick chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries… Mmmm. Chocolate cake that takes only 15 min to make and 25 min to bake. Did I say the word Chocolate enough? You simply must try this one. Play around with the decoration and voila, you have a special occasion or birthday Chocolate Cake. Feel free to leave out the strawberries of you must (tips about fresh fruits and berries at the end).
CHOCOLATE CAKE (recipe adjusted from Averie Cooks):
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar
- 180 gr (around 9-10 generous tbsp greek or turkish thick yogurt)
- 1/4 cup any vegetable oil (except olive oil)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Nestle)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For chocolate ganache (my favourite recipe)
- 200 ml heavy cream (I use 30-35%)
- 240 gr chocolate chips (I mixed three types for this cake)
- 40 gr unsalted butter
This amount of ingredients is enough for 9×9 inch (23×23 cm) square cake pan or 9 inch (23 cm) round pan. I’ve managed to slice it into two thin layers, but for a special occasion cake I strongly suggest doubling the ingredients and baking two separate layers, or baking it in a twice smaller pan and then slicing into layers for a higher cake.
Brew coffee and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 175c/350F. Grease or spray and flour your baking pan(s). I prefer to also lay the bottom of pan with parchment paper.
Take 1 large mixing bowl, add yogurt, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla extract and sugar and whisk until well combined. The original recipe called for 1 cup sugar, but I only used 3/4 and next time I might even try with 1/2 cup. I like sweet foods, but I don’t like when you feel like drinking 2 glasses of water after a piece of chocolate cake, and with this amount of sugar taste was perfect.
Add cocoa, mix until there’s no lumps, pour coffee in the bowl and stir again until smooth.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt all-together into the bowl. Mix just enough for flour to disappear.
Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes – check with a toothpick inserted in the centre – it should come out clean. Mine was done at 25 min. Don’t over bake or it will be dry.
Let cool completely in the pan. When the cake is cooled down, take it out from the pan and cut into layers if desired.
Prepare the ganache. This is my favourite ganache recipe – the result is a smooth, silky, easy-to-spread and soft chocolate ganache.
In a bowl prepare your chocolate chips – I’m so guilty I used 1 new box of milk chocolate chips and 2 leftover boxes of bitter chocolate :) It turned out pretty great!
Chop butter into small cubes, then in a small saucepan heat up cream with butter just until the butter melts and cream starts to simmer, take it off heat, whisk to combine and pour the hot mixture over chocolate chips. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and then mix vigorously until there are no lumps and the ganache is smooth and well combined. I actually use a spoon for mixing it because I get really annoyed when the thick chocolate mix sticks on the whisk and it seems easier to scrape it off the spoon, but feel free to use whatever suits you.
Decorate your cake and… no, don’t eat yet! :) It’s best to give it some time for ganache to set. Allow to stand for half hour in the fridge.
Layered cake with fresh strawberries:
Tip: Use fresh berries for this cake – it is delicious, BUT if you use berries, the cake must be eaten on the same or next day because berries will get bad and get soggy (what a waste of a cake!!!) You can store this cake in the fridge without berries for 4-5 days, and serve with fresh berries on the side every day – this way they will taste fresh and firm and will complement the cake really well.
If the cake is prepared for the same or next day – spread a generous layer of ganache on the first layer and then put slices (not too thin) of strawberries on it. Cover with the second layer, spread the ganache, decorate!