My life is constantly at the mercy of temperature. Outside temperature can change an easy training session on skates into a challenge between me and the elements. Ambient temperature at my office can plunge me from productive programmer to a popsicle with frozen digits who can barely type. A drafty kitchen can render my yeast dough sluggish to the point I declare it lifeless. But the most fickle of all is chocolate. Just a few minutes can mean the difference between glossy pourable liquid gold and lumpy dark mass that refuses to behave.
It’s been far too long since I made a festive-looking cake. A round cake complete with frosting signifies celebration even if I’m celebrating for the sake of celebration. With the convenience of my baking arsenal at the fingertips, I baked a cake at the first chance I got. My original plan for a fancy frosted 2-layer cake got side-tracked by my procrastination. Luckily, there is always one or two easy recipes lurking in my to-bake list. This Mocha Cinnamon Cake with Chocolate Ganache from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours fits the bill in the most admirable fashion. There is no stand mixer or food processor to dirty. The cake baked in 45 minutes and I frosted it in 5. If I wasn’t picky about the frosting having that perfect swirly look, it would be even easier. You can sit next to that bowl of ganache until it hits just the right temperature and consistency. Or you can cheat and do what I did.
There’s not much to say about the making of the cake since it was so simple. You can see for yourself in the recipe. That layer of espresso cinnamon sugar and dark chocolate in the middle added an intriguing twist to the cinnamon-scented buttermilk cake. My 9-inch round cake was topped with thick swirls of dark chocolate ganache. When the dark chocolate and butter was freshly melted, it was satiny and pourable. Lovely for sure if you want to use it as a glossy glaze but that was not my plan. I wanted the ganache cool enough to hold peaks when I spread it on the cake. I was in a hurry to get the cake ready so waiting was not an option. I threw the bowl of ganache in the fridge. Unfortunately, it chilled unevenly and I ended up with a lumpy mess. I smoothed it on the cake as well as I could but I was not impress. Worry not, help was on the way.
I got out my mini hair dryer and set it on low. The warm air quickly transformed all the unruly lumps to something yielding and shiny. I gently ran a spatula over the top of the cake to create some attractive swirls and put the cake in freezer to set. In no time, the cake came out looking picture perfect and that was the wonder of harnessing the power of temperature.
I’m quite happy with this Mocha Cinnamon Cake but a true layer cake it is not. I have a mango coconut carrot cake in the works which ought to satisfy my layer cake craving. Spring is in the air and it’s time to lighten up in the kitchen, don’t you think?