Sunday, 5 December 2010

on grief and birthday's plus nigel slater's chocolate almond cake

lighting candles on the cake
it was o's birthday today and i was in two minds about birthday cake. of course there can be no birthday without cake but then there are no rules on bereavement. when is it okay to celebrate? and what exactly is celebration? of course religion's prescribe periods of mourning but then in o's words, his grand father put a period on an official mourning at three days. i am no fool to believe that prescriptions of time periods will determine the passing away of a loved one. grief isn't linear, it is interspersed with sadness and the celebration of happy memories too. after all, homer was right when he said that 'life and death are balanced on the edge of a razor'. 

so i decided to make o a cake, but one that wasn't too loud or frosted or bright. instead, i made a dark chocolate one, with a edge of dark espresso and an almond nuttiness. i dusted it with icing sugar and wrote on it in white instead of red. the recipe came from nigel slater's kitchen diaries which is one of my favourites. the cake doesn't take long to bake but is a bit tedious on account of the number of bowls it needs. one to melt the chocolate and butter in, one to sift the dry ingredients in, one to beat the egg whites in and one to separate the egg yolks into. as you can imagine i had quite a bit of washing up to do afterwards. 

but it's a rewarding cake too. although the egg whites give it a lightness, the combination of the dark chocolate along with the espresso make it a dark and and rich affair. i found that the roughly ground almond gave it a very loose textured crumb as well as adding texture. although the recipe asked for the pan to lined with greaseproof paper i have learnt that a well greased and lightly floured good non-stick cake pan does the trick as the cake came out perfect. you can find nigel slater's recipe for chocolate almond cake in the observer as well although the one i used came from the kitchen diaries. and before i go, a small prayer for o's nana in the belief that 'death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity' [william penn]

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