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.
Click on Page 2 below for the recipe