So here’s what I learned this weekend – if you watch The Dark Knight and follow it up by gorging on a six ingredient cake of which four ingredients are eggs, cream, sugar and rum, you will then dream of Amisha Patel singing songs from Mamma Mia on a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham set (complete with diffused lighting) before Batman saves her from the machinations of two random dudes who’re in cahoots with Dr. Evil just as she launches into a Lara Croft impersonation and swings from a chandelier to save the cast of Battlestar Galactica – and then you’ll wake up in a pool of drool with a tummy ache.
My Auntie S’s cake is meant to be eaten with extreme caution. It’s officially called The Burnt Sugar Cake and informally as “Auntie S’s cake” but I prefer what my mother calls it – the cream and sugar cake. Because that’s basically all there is in it, with a little flour to hold it all together. The directions below are written in a language called “Baking for Dummies” because that’s pretty much my level of baking. Believe me, if I could make this thing, so can you! It’s the world’s easiest cake and I’ve never ever come across a single person who didn’t love it (duh! it’s pure fat, of course everybody loves it). In fact, a little less love and I wouldn’t be sitting here right now feeling like crap. Oh well, it’s like drinking – at least I enjoyed it while it lasted.
Eggs – 4
Cream – 2 cups
Sugar – 2 cups (powdered) + 3/4 cup (granulated)
Flour – 2 cups
Baking powder – 1 level tsp
Boiling water – 1/2 cup
Dark Rum – 1/3 cup (optional but I prefer it and it burns off while baking so you don’t have to worry about kids)
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp (optional)
Walnuts / Almonds / Raisins / Cashews – a handful, roughly chopped (optional)
Beat powdered sugar and eggs in a food processor. You can use a Kitchen Aid or electric whisk but you don’t want this to be too aerated so if you have a food processor go for it. When eggs and sugar have combined (about two – three minutes), add cream (thirty seconds). Pour into mixing bowl. Sift flour and baking powder together; add a few spoons at a time to the egg and cream mixture, stirring to combine.
In a separate pan, pour the granulated sugar on high heat and let it melt. When the sugar caramelizes and turns liquid, stir a little until all the sugar is melted and the color turns dark brown. When it starts to bubble and froth, add half a cup of boiling water and turn off the heat once the mixture stops hissing. Stand back and be careful when adding the water.
Cool the caramelized sugar – and no, lukewarm is not fine – and pour into the cake batter. Add vanilla, rum and lastly any nuts or raisins as per your taste. (I like walnuts with this. It’s almost unbearably rich but yummy!) Stir gently.
Pour into buttered, floured pan (if you don’t know what that is – take a little butter in a warm, dry cake pan, swirl it around so every inside surface is coated, drain excess butter if any, and dust it lightly with flour, shaking the pan free of any excess amounts). Bake at 180 C or 350 F for 45 minutes, check every five minutes after half an hour. When top is a rich dark brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean, cake is ready.
This is not a cake that needs or wants icing but if you want to prettify it further, hold a sieve over it and sprinkle powdered sugar. You can eat it warm or do what I do – slice and chill overnight and eat it cold. Bliss.
What I particularly love about this recipe, apart from it’s sheer lack of complications, is that it’s so forgiving. As long as you have an oven, a cake pan and the ingredients at hand, you can eyeball things or use everyday kitchen utensils to measure and mix. In fact, the original recipe says things like “use a katori of sugar” and “four large tablespoons of rum” and “beat it all in a mixi”.
Heh. Mixi. Enjoy but don’t eat it all at once even if you really want to.