When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Devil’s Food Cake May 28, 2008

Filed under: All-occasion cakes — crummb @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , ,


I’VE deliberately kept my recent posts very brief because my husband Z, a former TV promo producer who is used to writing in only short, chop-socky phrases, said my first entry was too long.

Well, enroute to the office toilet today, I bumped into a colleague (Hello, XY!) who said my baking travails – especially that first entry about the friggin’ fondant – was “riveting”. Riveting! See? What do TV producers know?

So, to those who appreciate the long written form (and those who relish the gory details of my kitchen tribulations), this one’s for you.

I am currently on a hunt for the best chocolate cake recipe ever. The one I’ve been using has served me well, but I’m looking for something even more moist and springy – dare I say, close to that fabled Lana texture.

I was drawn to Tish Boyle’s Deeply Dark Devil’s Food Cake because she promises that it’d be (a) moist and (b) tall, able to be cut into two or three layers. But halfway through making the batter, I knew I had a goner on my hands.

I had previously tried recipes that required adding lots of water. And invariably, the cakes turned out dense and rubber-sole-like. This recipe required 1 and 1/3 cups of water, so the final batter was diluted and runny, like the consistency used to make pancakes.

Down-trodden, I dumped the cake tin in the oven. But what came out after 55 minutes was not something I’d expected. Firstly, Boyle wasn’t kidding about the Deeply Dark part. It was the blackest dem cake I have ever made. It looked like it was covered in soot. But then secondly, it was moist! And soft! And it melted in my mouth!

At 1.5 inches, it wasn’t as tall as I’d like it to be. I must have overmixed something. But never mind, next time I’ll just use a smaller tin, ha. But while delicious and all, it’s still not the texture I’m looking for, so the search continues.

Then, it was Z’s turn to be perplexed by the cake. It was so dark he wasn’t sure how to light it. As I babysat En En in our air-conditioned bedroom, he sweated over what colour plates to use, where to position his light stands, how to get rid of shadows, etc, in the dining room. Eventually, the photo he took is… not the one above.

The lighting was too harsh, he said. It looked perfectly fine to me. But Z is the sort who is as fussy about where shadows fall as I am about apostrophes. “You’re only as good as your last photo”, he opines, and there was no way he was gonna let me post it.

“Let’s reshoot,” I suggested gingerly, desperate to have a photo accompany this post. I mean, what’s a cake blog without photos? It’d be like Playboy without photos.

“Can’t lah, busy,” he said, lest I forget that he is a full-time employee, weekend mountain-biker, Sunday church-goer, father to a seven-month-old baby, and husband to a demanding, cake-obsessed wife.

“I’ll just touch it up,” he offered. And I was happy.

So here you have it, the photo courtesy of Mr Photoshop. Ain’t it a Black Beauty?


7 Responses to “Devil’s Food Cake”

  1. skipdaddyG Says:

    Hi Crummb! That sure is one dark piece of confectionery. Black really is beautiful! The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice they say and I am just dying to spike my insulin levels with a piece of that! I might actually drop by tonite so save a piece for me……pls!!!!!

    Always a pleasure reading your posts and drooling at the photos! I must say Z’s skills sure shine when he’s shooting cakes…or mebbe it’s just the yummy-looking subjects! Whatever the case, you sure put a strain on my dieting willpower (for I am currently on a quest myself). So keep the posts long (a blog is a writer’s domain afterall) and the photos sweet.


  2. theotherxy Says:

    Ooh, I love epic-long discursions on food, esp when written with your pizzazz! Singapore needs its own Ruth Reichl…

  3. crummb Says:

    Oh, G and theotherxy… I can’t get out the door cos my head has gotten so big. You two have life-time membership at my blog! (whatever that means!)

  4. Peh Says:

    I disagree that Playboy without pics is pointless. The cartoons are actually quite good and the letters from readers are almost as titillating as ST Forum’s.

    But I agree with XY, whichever one he/she is. I like it long – your posts that is.

  5. crummb Says:

    Mr Peh, you would know about the cartoons, wouldn’t you ;P

  6. Cookie Says:

    Hi, I am glad to stumble upon your blog. All your cakes look so good!

    I hope you don’t mind me putting a ling in my blog to yours.


  7. crummb Says:

    cookie: yes please! i need all the links i can get. thanks! 🙂

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