When The New Sugar and Spice arrived on my doorstep, I tore through the box like an excited child dives into a colorfully wrapped gift.
I’ve read a number of articles lately discussing the fact that cookbooks today have morphed into photograph-laden paper weights whose value lies more in serving as a coffee table book than any real use in the kitchen. The point of view isn’t without merit. You know that cookbook you saw in the bookstore with imagery that made you salivate. You drooled at pictures of beautifully baked goods and felt compelled to buy it. You arrived home. You scanned the book. You marveled at the top-notch photography. And the story ends there. You didn’t bake a single recipe. It’s happened to me, and I know it’s happened to you.
While The New Sugar and Spice is filled with wonderfully executed photography, it is definitely a bonafide cookbook whose value extends far from imagery. It’s author, Samantha Seneviratne – an accomplished chef, baker, and blogger – presents us with not only a beautiful book but practical, approachable recipes that yield stunning results. These are the types of baking texts that I appreciate most – filled with imagery but also with recipes easily executed in my kitchen. In addition, she also adds stories along with each recipe that tell a story and exhibit the inspiration behind the ingredients.
My favorite recipe from this book was, without question, Chocolate Cake For Leeda. This was Samantha’s attempt at recreating a much loved cake by her Great Aunt Leeda. With coconut oil and ample nutmeg and cinnamon, this recipe takes chocolate cake to another level in terms of the flavor palate presented in each bite. This cookbook is all about adding spices to your baking, taking bland and boring to flavorful.
This is a single layer cake, making it simple to execute. Combined with a three ingredient ganache frosting, it’s easy to make a beautiful, flavorful cake at home without the need for a box of cake mix or a piping bag for the icing. It’s a new take on a classic that a baker at any level can tackle with results you’ll be proud to share. And if your husband is anything like mine, the first word out of his mouth – possibly spraying a bit of cake in the process – will be “Wow!”
The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe For Bolder Baking goes on sale September 9th.
Chocolate Cake For Leeda
From The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe For Bolder Baking / Samantha Seneviratne
Yields one single layer cake with frosting
- 2/3 cup melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Lightly oil the parchment.
To prepare the cake, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If your cocoa powder has a few lumps you can sift this mixture, but it isn’t necessary otherwise.
In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in about half of the flour mixture. Then whisk in half of the milk. Repeat the process, stirring until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan against the counter a few times to knock out the air bubbles.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completed on a rack.
To prepare the frosting, place the chocolate into large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Immediately pour it over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mixture cool at room temperature to a spreadable consistency, stirring occasionally.
Lift the cake out of the pan and set it on a serving plate. Remove the parchment. Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake.
This cake is best the day it’s made but you can keep leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for 1 day.
I used 50% cacao dark chocolate with orange essence for the frosting. The added orange flavor was incredibly complimentary to the cake. I also used Hershey’s Cocoa Special Dark powder versus just natural cocoa powder to for an extra flavor kick. Additionally, I substituted vanilla paste for vanilla extract.
I also tried the frosting with 60% cacao dark chocolate, and I found that the flavor was too powerful for my tastes. If you are not a big fan of dark chocolate, I recommend choosing a milk chocolate or lower cacao dark chocolate for the frosting,
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. The opinions on this book and its contents are my own. I only work with companies and endorse products that I have positive personal experience with and enjoy.