Like many of you foodies out there, I own more cookbooks than I can actually keep up with and wonder if I am the only one to fantasize about actually buying a book and making each and every recipe in it. Either for the sheer challenge of it or because well, some of those cookbooks turned out pretty expensive and I'm just feeling guilty for only making a couple of recipes from them... all the while planning my next buy.
Today, I picked one of my oldest cookbooks that was given to me by my grandmother, who, in her youth, lived in the Belgian Congo, and mingled with the partying local Belgian/Jewish community. It was by then that she acquired a french cookbook called "L'Art Culinaire Français" (The French Culinary Art, 1950). A must in those days.
It is a huge fat brick, full of not so well explained recipes and quite honestly, some are just enigmatic, both technically and linguistically. The book is filled with recipes from the greatest chefs like Brillat-Savarin, Escoffier, Pellaprat and many many others, so there we have an amazing compilation that spread from how to cook "cuisse de grenouille" (frog legs) up to... the most simple chocolate cake. That was more up my alley.
The Chocolate Cake recipe I picked was from a chef called Touzalin's, author of the book "L'Amérique À Table" (America at the Table). A quick search on the internet turned out that this was actually a lady called Lida Miller Touzalin, who was not only an accomplished cook, she also happened to be the daughter of Justice Samuel Freeman Miller. a very powerful court man.
It also turned out that the book she wrote was published in 1929, the year of the Great Depression.
Going back to the my big book, I then understood why there was a small reference at the bottom of the recipe (which was written by Touzalin herself) that the recipe is very cheap to make.
I don't know about you, but I love a recipe to which I can tie a story, a mood.
This chocolate cake is indeed very cheap to make, extremely easy and while I was a bit reluctant about it's simplicity, it was delicious, airy, moist and... gone a couple of hours later.
"1929 Gateau au Chocolat" aka Depression Cake
by Chef Lida M. Touzalin
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 cup of flour
10 g of baking soda
70 g of bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Separate the egg yolk from the egg white.
Beat the egg white to stiff peaks, set a aside for a moment.
Beat the yolk with the sugar for a couple of minutes, add the milk and keep beating.
Mix the flour with the baking soda and add to the previous mixture.
Beat until the batter is nice and smooth.
Meanwhile, melt the butter with the chocolate (I did it in the microwave, 30 seconds at the time and stirring) and mix until the chocolate is perfectly melted and blended with the butter.
You'll need less than a tablet
Now add the chocolate to the previous batter and mix well.
Fold the egg whites into the batter, carefully.
Pour into a well buttered mold and cook at 180 degrees Celsius for about 35 minutes.
Light, moist and delicious