Friday 5 February 2010

Chinese Legends . . .

One upon a time, some hundreds of years ago, the inhabitants of Peking were collecting money to pay for a copper image of Buddah. A nun stood near the South Gate, collecting gifts and registering the namef of the donors. One morning a poor old man asked why she stood there, and the nun explained what it was she was doing.

"Ahhh. . . " said the old man. "This is what I have. Take it." With that, he handed her a coin worth less than a penny, which the Nun took and placed in her pocket.

The time came when the fashioning of the huge figure began. Tons of copper were thrown into the gigantic furnace, but even though the heat was greater than usual, the immence mass of metal did not melt. Puzzled, the chief coppersmith made inquiries. Eventually the nun confessed that she had not handed in the tiny Chinese copper coin . . . because she had felt it to be worthless. Pressed to hand the coin over, she did so, and it was thrown into the furnace.

Immediately the copper began to melt and soon the image was complete.

This is only an old Chinese legend of course, but I like it. It reminds me of a truth which we are in danger of forgetting. It's message is clear. There is nothing really insignigicant in this world. Even the greatest of undertakings would be nothing without the honest, careful work of people who think they don't count.

Every little helps. ☺

My cold is still hanging on, but seems to be a bit better this morning. I don't get ill very often, but when I do, it is usually a real doozer!!! I thought I would share with you one of the other desserts I made for the big party last weekend. It might seem like a lot of faff, but it is really a special dessert and very well received. It's not hard to make, just a bit time consuming and is quite impressive when done. There is absolutely no flour in this cake at all, so your friends who are wheat intolerant can eat this! Plan ahead as it needs to chill for at least six hours.

*September 7th Cake*
Serves 12
Printable Recipe

I'm not sure you can really call this a cake. There is no flour in it at all. It had two lovely light chocolate layers, filled with a whipped cream filling and then covered with a whipped cream chocolate frosting. It's most unusual. Adapted from the Maider Heatter Chocolate book.

6 extra large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup, plus 1 TBS strained unsweetened cocoa powder
(Preferably Dutch process)
1/3 tsp salt

Adjust the oven rack one third up from the bottom of the oven and pre-heat to 190*C/375*F. Butter two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the paper and then dust the insides of the pan and paper with flour, shaking off any excess.

In a small bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed for 5 minutes, until they are light and lemon coloured. Add about half of the sugar (reserving the remaining half) and continue to beat on high speed for an additional 5 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted out.

Add the sifted cocoa powder and beat on low speed, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, beating only to mix in the cocoa thoroughly, Set aside.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and add the salt. Beat at high speed (use clean beaters!) until the whites increase in volume and barely hold a soft shape. Reduce the speed to medium and continue to beat whilst slowly adding the reserved sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat until the whites hold a definite shape. They should not be stiff or dry.

Making small additions at first, add half of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, using a folding motion. Once you have done this then carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites. Do not overhandle. Turn half of the mixture into each prepared cake pans, gently smoothing each layer.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the layers spring back when lightly touched and have begun to come away from the sides of the pans. Remove from the oven. Using a small sharp knife, carefully cut around the sides of the layers to release them. Cover each layer with a rack and flip them out of the pans. Remove the paper and then cover with another rack and flip them over to being right side up. Let cool completely. The layers will sink a bit and the sides buckle in somewhat, but don't worry, that is completely natural and the filling and frosting will cover this up completely.

3/4 tsp unflavoured gelatin
1 1/2 TBS cold water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp vanilla

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small heatproof cup. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place in a small pan, containing about an inch of hot water. Set over moderate heat and let stand until the gelatin dissolves completely. Remove from the hot water and set aside.

Reserve 2 or 3 TBS of the cream and place the remainder in a bowl. Add the sugar and the vanilla. Beat with an electric beater until the cream has increased in volume and holds a soft shape. Quickly stir the reserved tbs of cream into the gelatin mixture and then with the mixer going, pour the gelatin all at once into the slightly whipped cream. Continue to beat until it is firm enough to hold a shape.

Place 4 strips of wax paper on the plate you will serve the cake from, each one about 10 by 3 inches. Place them around the outer edges of the plate. Place one layer of the cake on top, making sure that the paper touches all the edges of the cake, and placing it upside down.

Cover this bottom layer with all the whipped cream, spreading it evenly over top. Cover with the other layer of the cake, placing it right side up. Place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the frosting.

For the frosting:
8 ounces good quality semi sweet chocolate, cut into bits
2 ounces butter
1 TBS dry instant coffee
1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla

Place the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler, over hot water on moderate heat. Add the butter. Cook and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove and transfer to a medium sized bowl. Dissolve the coffee in the hot water and pour this over the chocolate. Allow to cool to room temperature. it is vital that this happens, but do not let it cool long enough to begin to harden again.

When the chocolate has cooled, place the cream, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and beat only until the cream holds a soft shape. It is very important you don't whip the cream until it holds a definite shape as that would be too stiff and the icing would curdle. In two or three additions, fold about half of the cream into the chocolate, and then fold the chocolate into the remaining cream.

Remove the cake from the fridge. Smooth the icing over the sides and top of the cake, filling in any hollows as required. Place the remaining frosting in a piping bag and pipe it onto the top of the cake using a star shaped tube. Remove the paper strips carefully from around the bottom of the cake and pipe a bit around here if necessary. Place back in the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Serve cold. To slice without squashing it, insert the point of the knife in the centre of the cake and then cut, using a up and down sawing motion.

There's a delicious Apricot Bread Pudding over on The English Kitchen today!


  1. I ma relieved to read that things are a little better. That cake looks delicious.

  2. Good to hear you are a little better today. The dessert looks wonderful. Take care and have a good Friday!

  3. Hope you are back to normal soon!!! What a lucious cake!

  4. I am sorry your cold is hanging on but glad you are feeling better today. I hope you had some time off work.

    I have just been buried in projects over here. Writing a whole blog on how to create a blog for our RS conference at the end of the month. There are six presenters~lucky me..I am one of them. There has been a bigger push towards computer literacy here and this is part of it.

    Our bathroom remodel is looking like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The shower tiling is almost done and then the floor is going in. Still a lot to be done but we are getting there and that is requiring me to be running out for this and that. And there is the constant cleaning up~the contractor leaves something to be desired in that department.

    Anyway I am just looking forward to normalcy seems I haven't seen it since last January when we started over hauling our house. Take good care Marie!

    Hugs, B

  5. Oh my gilly golly gosh, that's a cake alright! Time and faff it may take but - what a reult. I could taste every stage even as I read it through. When it comes to readable, understandable rdcipes that really work - well, and I mean this as a compliment, you get more like Delia every day!

    Hope you'll be in good healthagain soon.

    love, Angie, xx

  6. Do hope you will be on the mend soon, Marie... that you have time to really rest extra at the weekend! So glad you feel a teeny, tiny bit better. :o) That cake is GORGEOUS... oh, it looks dangerously good! It's been a very busy week here, felt more busy than even usual, so we are very much looking forward to a slow down this weekend. Hope we can chat soon. Be taking good care... LOVE YOU HEAPS ((BIG HUGS))

  7. I too hope you are feeling better.
    These colds/flu seem to hang on forever any more. Especially the coughs!
    I now have an antibiotic to help fight mine. Please get the rest you need this weekend.
    The cake looks like heaven! So yummy:)


  8. every little bit counts-what a great thought for today!


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