I’ve read more books so far this year, then I feel I have in a long time. When I was younger I used to go through the scholastic reading newsletter that came every month at my school and barely be able to contain myself for the books I would soon receive. When they came, I devoured them. Summer always seemed to involve a long reading list and if I remember right, I had to keep track of each one and the time I spent for credit that would lead to a prize or reward of some kind for my efforts.
These days I feel lucky if I get the chance to read more than a few pages before slowly nodding off to sleep each night. But this Summer I found time, or at least I made the time. The funny thing is that three of the books just so happened to be food memoirs that I finally got to catch up on.
The first was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, where I instantly wanted a plot of my own land to live off (and which may or may not have given me the canning bug this year). I was inspired to make things like my own cheese and yogurt, so far only the later has happened and with surprisingly good results.
Then I moved on to The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz. This book had me laughing out loud and even reading sections to my husband, who got a kick out of it as well. Recipes for apple tarte tatin, crepes, brownies that the French went nuts over, and of course a recipe for a perfectly simple, but oh so delicious, chocolate cake, which is what I’m sharing with you today. More on that though in a minute.
My most recent read, was A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette. Another one that was hard to put down. When she described even the most simple moments where food was involved, I felt like I was there eating right alongside. She also has a chocolate cake that I want to try next. But what I first enjoyed was a big plate of roasted eggplant ratatouille because I just can’t seem to get enough eggplant this year. It was delicious.
So I’ve been a busy reader this summer, but more than any marks or points I can mark down on my check list, I have good food to eat, share, and enjoy. I think that is better than possibly any of the prizes I received as a little girl and ones I want to keep and share. What have you been reading this Summer? I’d love recommendations!
Simple Chocolate Cake / serves 8-10
Adapted from The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz
This is my idea of a perfect chocolate cake. No frosting, a slight direction into the brownie category, rich chocolaty flavor, and simple to make. David mentions that the cake is often made a day or two ahead of time so the flavor has time to develop. Ours lasted exactly into day two and I can say it really was a bit tastier. Odd how that works. The cake puffs up real high when first pulled from the oven, but quickly flattens and sinks down when cooling. I made mine in an 8-inch spring-form pan rather than a 9-inch loaf pan and it made for easy removal.
9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cane sugar
4 eggs at room temperature, separated
2 tablespoons spelt flour or plain flour
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch spring-form pan or alternatively use a 9-inch loaf pan, buttered and lined with parchment.
Place the chocolate and butter in a double broiler, melt until smooth. Remove from the heat, stir in 1/2 the sugar, the egg yolks, and the flour.
Whisk the egg whites with the salt. Keep whipping until soft droopy peaks form. Whip in the remaining sugar gradually until whites are smooth and hold their shape.
Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the remaining whites just until the mixture is smooth and no white streaks remain.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center feels slightly firm. Don’t over bake. Let cool before serving. Keeps for 3 days wrapped or covered and frozen for up to 1 month.