Happy 31st of May. It is a bittersweet day. As of tomorrow aka the first of June, I shall be giving up all things deemed to be junk food in the name of Junk Free June. Gasp!!! How is this possible??? Sophie, give up cake? And ice cream? No, not the ice cream!!!
In the weeks leading up to this month of no fun I seem to have eaten all the treats possible. I feel like this rapid succession of food consumption may completely undermine my cleansing efforts for June. I had massive custard doughnuts for lunch twice last week. I also had a lunch consisting solely of curly fries and a chocolate milkshake. As I write this I’ve just shoved a whole pile of blue cheese mashed potato into me. This is of course all before this cake makes its way inside me.
My flatmate made this cake a few weeks back, she unfortunately iced it a little too soon so the ganache just melted off the cake. It was however delicious regardless. I have been dreaming about it since. The texture was amazing. I figured I couldn’t wait any longer and if I missed the opportunity to make it this weekend I would have to wait another WHOLE 30 days before I could eat it. That is just not a thing when salted caramel and ganache are involved.
I have a blog called Sophie Likes Cake so it is no surprise that I like to consume cake from time to time. I don’t drink fizzy drink or bags of lollies, my general processed junk food intake is pretty minimal. I prefer quality over quantity which makes me sound like a snob but I figure if I am going to eat it I may as well do it properly. This whole month of no treats is going to be one hell of a mission. Part of me thinks though, oh maybe this will be a good diet to go on. Maybe I will lose that annoying pouch just under my belly button, it got me thinking..
I'm naturally quite solid, building muscle mass for me is not a problem, My legs aren't worthy of a Victoria's Secret runway but I have quads that could crush. I love them. They keep me warm, they allow me to leap up hills carrying chilly bins and they also help me struggle my way through a killer spin class. They aren’t typically attractive though. They are pretty heavy, last time I checked they provided a significant contribution to my 70kg or so body mass. I may be 5’7” but I am no waif.
Guys don’t pick me up, not many of them can. I think I can count on less that one hand the people who have. It’s often the subject of many jokes, my recent favourite being “with a deadweight like you, you wouldn’t float many boats”. Luckily I found this hilarious especially in its context. Throughout school, those trust exercises that involved catching people made me really self conscious. I actually once got dropped. I am really hoping I don't have to be carried out of a burning building one day, chances are the fireman will give up and just leave me there to crisp up like a piece of bacon.
Every weekday morning without fail I find myself at the gym at 6am. Looking shattered, dead, bare faced and messy haired its no wonder why I don’t ‘pick up’ at the gym. The changing rooms are packed. I look at the amazons next to me with their toned asses and even more toned abs. In the real world I am normal but here after my second skin of quick dry and Lycra is removed I am an oddity, a chubby not so little lump in the corner. Ironically out of all these modelesque women I am one of the few to walk around not covering herself in a towel. I'm standing there with a blow drier while my boobs stare at their more lush peers either side of me. No one apart from the girl in the mirror staring back at me has that bulge where the love handles you don't love at all are restrained by the tiny underwear you really loved at time of purchase.
These glamorous creatures so perfectly groomed and clothed, oh how I am not one of them. I want to be but can never be bothered. I don’t buy nice clothes, I don’t have a complicated facial routine, I can’t be bothered packing my curling tongs and sitting there for hours on end perfectly coiffing about.
Outside of this habitat I'm pretty normal. I think. Apparently I'm attractive, this bewilders me. Maybe all these primped and primed women lack a sparkle in a dimension they fail to possess? Who knows? Maybe I’m real, maybe I’m honest in who I am? Maybe I just have a lot of smile and sass?
I could probably change this all if I tried. I could give up trips to far away places in favour of beautiful new clothes. I could give up cooking the people I love nurturing meals. I could give up my beaming face when I give up eating ice cream. I could give up the determination I get when trying to make some new and complicated cake. I could, but why would I? Part of me thinks I could convert to juice cleanses and kale but in doing so would I perhaps lose part of what makes me me?
Wow this is depressing. Don’t leave me alone with my own thoughts for too long! Surely I can’t be the only one that feels like this though. Most of the time I cannot handle how awesome I think I am. Seriously though, I am so freaking cool (she says as she accidentally drips soup down her top..)
Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Salted Caramel
Adapted from Little and Friday's Celebrations by Kim Evans
Makes 3 x 20cm layers
For the cake
2 1/2 cups white sugar
300ml sunflower oil
250g dark chocolate (I used 72% dark Ghana)
2 cups flour
1 cups rich cocoa
2 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated beetroot
For the ganache
450g dark chocolate melts (I use Nestle melts)
For the salted caramel
1 1/2 white sugar
1 tablespoon glucose syrup
Salt to taste (1/2 teaspoon or so of flaked sea salt)
To make the ganache
I recommend making the ganache the night before to allow it to set in the fridge, making it spreadable. Warm the cream over a medium to low heat in a saucepan until just below a simmer. Break up the chocolate into pieces if not already, remove the cream from the stove then place in the chocolate. Leave the chocolate to sit submerged in the cream for a couple of minutes before stirring. Stir until the chocolate becomes fully incorporated and the ganache is smooth. Sometimes I return it to a low heat just to melt out any lumps. Leave to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating over night.
To make the cake
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees on bake. Grease and line 3 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together (I used my cake mixer) until they are thick and pale and roughly triple the volume. Gently pour in the oil and whisk to incorporate. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate until smooth then pour this into the egg mixture whilst whisking.
Sieve together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Add half of the dry mixture to the chocolate egg and gently stir in, followed by the 100ml of milk and the remaining dry mixture. Stir though the grated beetroot.
Divide the batter evenly between the three tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the tins. Leave the cool completely before icing.
To make the salted caramel
Make the caramel whilst the cakes are baking. Place the water, sugar and glucose syrup in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to the boil and continue to do so until the sugar syrup turns a bright amber colour. Whilst the sugar heats, warm up the cream until just below a simmer. As the syrup turns amber, slowly pour in the cream whilst quickly stirring (it will splutter and bubble a lot!). Continue to pour and stir until all the cream has been added and the caramel is smooth. Leave to cool for 20 minutes before adding the salt, this way you can taste as you go.
Onto each layer of cake, smooth over a couple of large spoonfuls of ganache and smooth around to reach the edges. Make one cake have slightly more ganache that the others, this will be the top. On two of the cakes, spread a spoonful of the caramel over the ganache. Make one of these cakes the base. Stack the other caramel covered cake on the base. Place the final cake on the top and then drizzle over a few spoonfuls of caramel over the top, making it drip down the sides.