Sometimes, I feel the creative juices inside be beginning to boil, and I know that it means I need to perform a RASC, a Random Act of Spontaneous Creativity. Sometime I paint a room in my house, or a portrait of my cat. Sometimes I rearrange all the furniture. This weekend RASCs have abounded, culminating in my first ever attempt at a Julia Child recipe. Now, I read Julie Powell’s blog, her book, and saw her movie, and I’m not ever going to attempt a feat that ridiculous, but I do own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and today I thought I’d try something simple to get my feet wet.
What I made was essentially chocolate cake.
Officially titled “Le Marquis”, the recipe is a chocolate sponge cake. You make by putting some chocolate and coffee in a small pan and setting that in a larger pan of simmering water to melt. Meanwhile, you whip together some egg whites with sugar until they are buttery, thick and “make the ribbon” as Julia says. Then you whip the whites from those eggs and a little salt and sugar into stiff peaks. The chocolate goes in the yolks and then you alternate folding in the whites and some cake flour in a sort of frenzy that has you wishing Julia were in your kitchen telling you to be bold and take control of your batter.
Now, if you’re me and random baking moods do not equal having cake flour on hand, you substitute 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of flour. The easiest way is to put the cornstarch in the measuring cup and then add the flour. Always used the scoop and level method, and never, NEVER, tap down your flour. MTAOFC recommends using a scale and weighing everything, but I don’t have a food scale, so…that didn’t happen.
After a quick trip in the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack for a couple hours before frosting. the cake is fine on its own, but I made the Glaçage au Chocolat, which is basically melted chocolate and coffee with a ton of butter beat in and then chilled over ice until it gets spreadable. Délicieux!
Maybe someday I’ll get brave and cook the boeuf bourguinon. For now, I think I’ll just stick with cake.