It’s no surprise that I am a fan of taking it slowly in the kitchen. Once the hideously boring, but necessary chores are done in the morning (laundry, making up bed, tidying up the breakfast stuff), I don the apron like a uniform; it helps get me in a particular mood, a mindset. For the next few hours, I’ll potter, whisk, prod and poke, whatever needs doing to get a good bake on. The only voice I need is one that’s singing its heart out of the speakers, the only sound that hums around is the Kitchen Aid whirring. This is my time, in my space, where I do my own thing. And I am usually rewarded handsomely for the investment.
I have made a fair few sweet yeasted rolls. All of them, have been good, great, excellent in their own right. However, this cake, The Chocolate Krantz Cake, is in a league of it’s own. From the outstanding book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottelenghi and Sami Tamimi, this is definitely, a star recipe; the kind that’s worth buying the book for.
A soft, butter, sugar and egg enriched yeasted dough, left to prove and firm slowly in the fridge overnight, is rolled in the morning, smeared with a buttery chocolate filling, rolled, cut lengthways twisted, proved again and baked. It puffs up magnificently. The hot, tiger striped, chocolate rippled cake, is then doused with a staggering amount of sugar syrup. This unapologetic cake is not for the faint of heart or hand. And yet, it manages to attain balance. There isn’t an awful lot of sugar in the dough, so the syrup is essential for offering that initial hit of sweetness, followed by buttery bread and deep chocolatey flavour. Any more filling and the whole would be cloying. Plus it looks magnificent, the sugar syrup sitting on the rippled cake like a glossy, tactile veneer. Like a glazed earthenware dish, you can’t resist touching it.
While you are not required to have a finely honed level of skill to make this cake, it does need a bit of pre-planning and patience. The counter-intuitive slicing of the rolled dough lengthwise feels completely weird, wrong and worrisome. Plus, the twisting requires a ‘just do it’ approach, you can’t muck around here. It may or may not twist neatly, it might fold in on itself a little, the chocolate might set too much and crack as you twist it, or it hasn’t cooled enough and it’s flowing out of the layers. It doesn’t matter! Both these scenarios happened with my cakes as you can see from the photos, but they didn’t matter a whit! You will wonder midway why the hell you are bothering with all this faff when 2o easy, trouble free minutes would have seen a glorious Victoria Sponge come out of the oven already. You would have been eating it by now! But then, after you finally get it baked, soaked in syrup, cooled and ready to slice, that question as to whether the effort was worth it will be answered with a serious, loud, resounding yes. This is so much more than the sum of it’s parts, it is magnificent. And the feeling of accomplishment is hard to beat. In fact, it’s impossible to remain modest; I give you leave to gloat.
Of all the things I have baked, the unapologetic Krantz Cake got the most enthusiastic reception. Kids were around the plate like animals at a watering hole. Friends were raving about it and I have a request for a loaf next time I should bake it (which will be in a couple of days time). This recipe makes two loaves. Between friends and family, the tin lay empty the day after the cake was placed in it, with only the smear of the icing betraying the previous occupant.
In the midst of all that there is to do and think about on a day to day basis – school, lunches, homework, dance lessons, sports, playdates, dinners, tantrums, tiaras and footballs- it’s liberating when you can focus on just one thing for a few hours. There will always be something that needs doing. It can wait. Truly, right now, it can wait. Have another slice of Krantz Cake.
Chocolate Krantz Cake
from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottelenghi & Sami Tamimi
530g / 4 cups + 1/4 cup Plain, all purpose flour plus extra for dusting
100g / 1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
grated zest of 1 small lemon
3 large free-range eggs
120 ml wwater
1/3 tsp salt
150 g / 2/3rd cup of butter at room temperature, cut into 2 cm cubes
sunflower oil for greasing
50g/ 1/2 cup icing, confectioner’s/powdered
30g/ 1/4cup best quality unsweetened cocoa powder
130g / 4.5oz best quality, semi sweet, dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)
120g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
100g / 3.5oz pecans, roughly chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar
Syrup to cover both cakes
260g / 1 cup + 1/8 cup caster sugar
160ml/2/3 cup water
For the dough
Put the dough hook attachment onto your mixer. In the mixer bowl add the flour, sugar, yeast and zest and mix with the dough hook for a minute. Add the eggs and water and work for a few moments at this speed, then increase it to medium, mixing for a 3 minutes until the dough comes together. Add salt and start adding the butter, a cube at a time, letting it all melt into the dough. Mix for 10 minutes at a medium speed, scraping the sides, flouring it lightly as necessary, for around 10 minutes, after which the dough will take on a sheen, be elastic and totally smooth but very sticky.
Brush the oil into a large bowl, scrape the dough into it, cover with plastic wrap/cling film and preferably, leave it to rise and firm up in the fridge overnight or for at least half a day.
Grease two 1 kilo/2lb loaf tins well and line the bottom with paper. Divide your dough into two, leaving one covered and return to the fridge. The dough will have risen a bit and feel quite firm.
Mix all the filling ingredients except the nuts and the 2 tbsp of sugar. Beat until you get a smooth, spreadable paste. Now, flour your work surface. He says lightly, but I say flour well, unless you have a silicone, non stick pastry mat. Shape your dough roughly into a rectangle and then roll out into 38cm x 28cm (15″ x 11″) rectangle. Trim the sides with a sharp knife to keep the dough even and place one of the short sides closest to you. Spread HALF the filling over the rolled dough, with a palette knife, leaving a 2 cm border all around it. Sprinkle HALf the pecans on top and one tablespoon of caster sugar.
Brush a little but of water over the long end furthest away from you. Using both hands, roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long side. Press the wet ends to seal it and even the roll into a perfect, thick cigar, sitting on it’s seam.
With a serrated knife, trim off just under an inch or 2 cms of both ends. Gently, cut the roll into 2, LENGTHWAYS, starting on the top, right through to the seam. With the cut side with it’s layers up facing you, gently press one end of each half together. Then, lift the right half over the left half. Repeat with the left half over the right half and press the ends together to seal it. Carefully lift the interwined loaf and place into your tin. Cover the loaf with a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1 1/2 hrs. It will rise only about 20 percent. Repeat the same process for your second loaf.
Preheat the oven to 190 deg C/ 170deg C Fan/ Gas Mark 5/375 F. Remove the tea towels and place the cakes on the middle shelf for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Make the syrup while the cake’s in the oven. Place both ingredients into a saucepan and over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar dissolves and the syrup starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool. As soon as the hot cakes are done and are out of the oven, brush both loaves liberally with the syrup. It will seem excessive but finish off all the syrup equally on both loaves.
Leave until just warm before removing them from the tins to cool down completely.
They keep for two days at room temperature, wrapped up well in foil and up to a couple of weeks when frozen.
Notes: If the chocolate mixture is too liquid and warm, it makes it more difficult to roll the dough and definitely more slippery when trying to braid the two halves. I would suggest leaving it to cool a bit until it’s still warm and supple, but thickened slightly, before using it.
Printed from http://thepatternedplate.com/