Mellow or full roast: coffee cake for all occasions
For years now I have harboured a shameful secret — I am addicted to instant coffee with a good dose of chicory, writes Hennie Fisher
NOTHING in the world beats a cappuccino from De Pascale in the Zona Pedonale on the Via Roma in Avollino, southern Italy; being unable to produce that at home, second-rate plunger or filter coffee just seems like punishment. The rounded, mellow softness that the chicory gives to instant coffee is a much better compromise than badly made home coffee.
Chicory is not only used as a coffee additive but is also cultivated for its leaves and grown as forage crop for livestock.
It appears to have many health benefits, ranging from infusions useful for skin eruptions to distilled flower water to alleviate eye inflammations, and includes vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and manganese.
It also contains inulin, a soluble fibre that feeds the digestive flora in our intestines. Chicory is a rich source of antioxidants and therefore helps to protect the cardiovascular system.
Coffee cake is a satisfying, yummy thing. It could be part caffeine injection (or not, as in this case where a chicory-coffee blend is used), a rich dessert, or a delicious tea-time cake with a pronounced identity.
Sadly, my chicory-rich coffee did not work as well as I thought it would in this recipe; its flavour seemed to dissipate from the heat during baking and I was left with a deliciously moist chocolate cake with a mere hint of coffee.
Of course the answer may be to make a punchy coffee icing, but I opted instead for a smooth vanilla buttercream icing to create my version of a cappuccino cake.
For a strong coffee flavour, I would suggest using a strong, fullroast instant coffee or a very short, double espresso — just mind the amount of liquid, as it may alter the volumes of the batter and icing. 10 ml white vinegar 5 ml vanilla extract 5 ml coffee essence More butter for cake tins Syrup 80 ml coffee powder 20 ml coffee essence 300 g golden brown sugar 300 ml water Prepare three 25cm cake tins by lightly brushing with melted butter, then lining both the sides and the base with baking parchment. Once lined, grease the sides and bottom with more butter. Sift together the flour, cocoa, coffee, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add in the sugar. Mix the melted butter, the amasi/buttermilk and milk together. To this mixture add the vinegar, eggs and flavourings (vanilla and coffee essence), and mix into the sifted flour mixture.
Stir together vigorously, but be careful not to overmix; stop as soon as the batter appears smooth and without lumps. Divide the mixture between the three pans and smooth down slightly. Bake in a preheated oven (180°C) for 50 minutes. Test that the cake is baked throughout; guard against overbaking. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle the boiling syrup over the cakes, dividing the syrup evenly among the three cakes to ensure that all the cakes are well soaked through. Cool completely in the tins before removing. The cakes may be somewhat fragile, so rather unmould and assemble immediately rather than cooling on a cake rack. Use good quality French buttercream, flavoured with coffee or vanilla, to assemble.