The sun's shining. I follow as it moves from room to room. Some days it positively dances on the walls. I haven't made the blinds for the parlour window yet so I've done that thing again and left the paper snowflakes up from Christmas. I love the shapes...Those silvery shadows that it casts through them.
I know 'parlour'...That's what Ahmad calls it...It sounds like something out of a Jane Austin novel, doesn't it?
We've been busy sanding and painting. I undercoated all of the downstairs, outside windows, that can be painted. Windows can be tedious with all those little places that you almost miss out. The hardest thing is not to get paint on the glass. I found a long artist brush the best thing. I can't tell you how many times I was called Van gogh or Picasso by neighbours out walking their dogs.
It was Ahmad's birthday on Thursday. A quiet one...We're having a proper celebration in a few weeks. I made his favourite moist chocolate cake. I experimented with Green & Black's cocoa powder and was a little bit disappointed that although the cake was dark and rich looking it didn't have the intense chocolate flavour I hoped for. I think I'll stick to Cadburys Bournville next time. I have to say though, that like with all good chocolate cakes it's improving with age and getting more and more truffely. Nice things arrived in the post for him and the phone didn't stop ringing. Neighbours popped by with a very generous gift...aged Penderyn, Welsh whisky. Matured in old oak bourbon barrels.
Later we drove to Wye to this lovely shop. He loves pens and I wanted to treat him to a really good one. Then we sat in the late afternoon sun outside Beer Revolution sipping refreshing golden craft ales. Followed by a scrumptious supper here. Hamburger for him with big chunky chips and Black bream for me with creamy mashed potatoes, roasted tomatoes, asparagus, rocket leaves and crunchy little fried onions, that I should have but couldn't resist. I also couldn't resist a raspberry mille feuille with dark chocolate sauce...also scrummy...I did share it though...promise...
Moist chocolate cake
- Seven ounces of self raising flour
- One teaspoon of baking powder
- Two large eggs
- Five ounces of butter or alternative
- Five ounces of golden caster sugar (it's lovely with half muscovado sugar if you have any)
- One and a half ounces of cocoa powder
- Three tablespoons of milk
- Two tablespoons of made coffee
- A little cinnamon. Just a tad you don't want it to be a cinnamon cake but just to have gentle background note of spice
- A little vanilla extract
Filling and topping options:
- Fresh cream, chocolate spread or butter cream. we love to use a chocolate hazelnut spread.
- Chocolate icing or ganache
- Shaved chocolate, walnuts or truffles.
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350f/gas mark 4)Or a little cooler if using a fan oven.
- Prepare a six inch cake tin with oil and a dusting of flour.
- Cream together the butter and sugar.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Sift the flour, cinnamon,cocoa and baking powder and fold into the flour.
- Add the coffee and milk.
- Pour into the tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Test with a skewer to ensure the centre is cooked although still moist.
- Leave in the tin for five minutes and then turn onto a cake rack to cool.
- You may choose to use two narrow pans rather than one deep one. If so reduce the baking time accordingly. I would check after fifteen minutes or so.
- Once cooled cut the cake in half horizontally to make two separate cakes.
- Place one half onto a serving plate. Decide which way up you prefer to produce either a flatter topped cake or more homely rounded one.
- Spread with your filling of choice. We like chocolate hazelnut spread.
- Place the second cake carefully on top and ice or glaze.
- You may like to spread butter cream or chocolate spread on the sides. Either make great cement for crushed nuts or flaked/shaved chocolate. They also make a great wall to poor chocolate gamache or icing onto the top.
- Or you may just like a simple dark chocolate icing as I did this time.
...Hope the sun is shining for you today too...