Add a little luxury to your table FOOD EXTRA Gizzi Erskine’s culinary memories
HANDS up – who really likes Christmas pudding? We love the glamour, the flaming brandy, the steaming custard… but who really likes the currants?
It’s not everybody’s favourite and, let’s face it, after nibbles, drinks, soup, turkey, stuffing, sprouts and roast parsnips, they’re a recipe for indigestion.
Give me chocolate truffle cake any day – not a stodgy, floury cup of tea chocolate cake but an after-dinner sophisticated fondant chocolate torte: bitter, smooth, unctuous with a sharp orange syrup or a contrasting dollop of creme fraiche or even some ultimate orange mascarpone cream.
It is Christmas, after all!
GORGEOUS CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE Ingredients
320g bitter dark chocolate
(60-70 per cent cocoa solids)
250g unsalted butter pinch of salt
120ml cold water
280g caster sugar
5 large free-range eggs
23cm/9in baking tin Large deep baking tray This cake is baked slowly in a water bath in a low oven. Before starting, make sure the baking tin fits easily into the tray and both sit easily on the lowest shelf of the oven.
Line and grease the baking tin. Preheat the oven to 130C or Gas 1.
Break the chocolate into a bowl. Add the butter and a pinch of salt. Melt them, either in a microwave (1 minute at medium then 20 second bursts) or in the bowl balanced over a pot of simmering water. (Don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.)
Once melted, stir in the cold water and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar briskly together until they have doubled in size and are rich and creamy. This can take up to 15 minutes.
Lower the whisking to slow and gradually add the chocolate mixture to make a light batter.
Pour the batter into the baking tin that is already resting in the baking tray. Ease onto the lowest shelf of the oven and then carefully fill the tray half-full of boiling water. The cake bakes slowly for 80-90 minutes. It is cooked when it has shrunk slightly from the sides and the top feels firm when you press it. Don’t worry if it is slightly sunk in the middle – its texture is soft and delicious. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before tipping it onto a plate.
It lasts three to four days. To glam it up, dust it with dark chocolate powder or white icing sugar.
It is especially good with slices of fresh orange.
FROM body piercer to cookbook author, restaurateur and TV personality, Gizzi
Erskine’s career has been quite impressive. Her latest recipe collection, Slow, is packed with stews and hearty meals worth putting time into, and will see you through the colder months. We caught up with her to grill her on the important things.
Her earliest cooking memory is...
“My earliest is being in Scotland and lying on a tartan rug with my mum gardening and smelling soil. Raw potatoes – just that really earthy vegetable smell. Most people talk about the sweet peas or the smell of cooking toast or crumpets, and mine’s the smell of really fresh, fresh, fresh vegetables. I could have only been about 18 months old.”
Her biggest culinary disaster is...
“I had some guests over and I was recipe testing for one of my books. I was cooking slow shoulder of goat, which is actually in Slow. I asked a very good friend of mine, ‘How long do I put it in for?’ and he said, ‘Temp 120 for six hours’. Now a shoulder of goat has a lot less fat in it than lamb and it’s also twice the size. So put I it on, had guests coming round and it wasn’t actually ready until four in the morning!”
She switched career as a body piercer to become a chef...
“I love piercing, I really wanted to be a piercer and I was really successful at it. But food is in my blood. I did piercing for eight years almost and it was time for a change. Food was the thing that I guess I was always meant to do.”
Her culinary career highlights include...
“I can’t pick one, I’m too lucky! My top three: the response to Mare Street Market [her London restaurant, deli and food emporium]; the day we opened Pure Filth (her pop-up restaurant offering ‘healthy food for hedonists’) at the Tate to queues, like enormous queues around the block. And also when I got the job as the youngest Sunday Times cook and I managed to hold on to that title for three years.
“But also there’s little things. Every single day, there’s something that happens in my life that makes me go, ‘God, my life is so mental, what the hell have I done to even deserve this?’ Sometimes not in a good way, but mostly in a great way.”
Slow by Gizzi Erskine is published by HQ, £25, photography Issy Croker, available now