Occasionally my keen multi-tasking ability bites me in the ass. Yesterday I had so many plates spinning (and one too many diet cokes*) that I had major false confidence. I thought, cavalierly, that I could bake this entire cake from scratch (and take its picture) before needing to leave for a meeting in 45 minutes. Silly me.
*for me, one too many diet cokes = 1 diet coke
My life tends to have several simultaneously-moving parts. A small sampling of yesterday's variety:
- Fielding phone calls about interest rates for a possible refinance while cleaning up dog puke.
- Learning lines for a Febreze commercial callback while plucking my eyebrows.
- Trying to carry a spider-covered 250lb. tank of propane down three flights of stairs while dodging a chatty mailman.
- Googling how to get dog puke out of a sisal rug while shopping for and cooking an entire dinner party.
As if those things weren't enough, I had this awesome thought: why not also bake a cake right now? You'll have 30 minutes while it bakes to get even more shit done! It's like found time!
What I was forgetting: while this cake has very few ingredients and is fairly easy to make, it involves several moving parts of its own. I had the mixer going and the chocolate melting and the camera snapping and it all seemed to be going swimmingly until all hell broke loose. I filled the springform pan with batter and as I lifted it to stick it in the oven, the removable sides came with me while the bottom suctioned to the counter. A complete chocolate cake batter blowout ensued. Before I could intervene, it oozed like lava into every nearby nook and cranny and made its way to the floor. All the while I'm looking at the clock knowing there's no possible way I'm gonna get this cake baked in time.
I notice, too, that in stressful situations I talk to myself out loud. Like, a lot. At one point while this was all going down I actually said, "YOU'VE GOT TO GET THIS MOTHERF@#&ING CAKE IN THE MOTHERF@#&ING OVEN!!!!" like I was Samuel L. Jackson shouting about loose snakes. With chocolatey fingers I texted my meeting-mate (CAKE 911!!! SO SRRY!!! WILL B LATE!!!), and then managed, miraculously, to coerce most of the spillage into a backup pan. I opened the door to place it in the hot oven and found a baking sheet harboring two sad, blackened and smoking turkey cutlets from the previous night's dinner. Oh yeah. Crap. Forgot about those. I did a little manic pan-juggling jig, and aside from a small shoulder burn and a a kitchen that looked like a rotten hell hole, crisis averted! Cake was in the oven. (BTW, who burns themselves on the shoulder with a hot pan? Me, that's who.)
When it was finally baking I cleaned up the mayhem (with all my "found" time) and then, with one eye on the clock, sat there like a little kid peering into the oven window willing willing willing the cake to bake faster faster faster. Finally, I could wait no longer and it was only halfway done so I did something unprecedented: leaving the cake in there, I shut off the oven, said a little prayer and left for my meeting.
Two hours later I gingerly opened the oven to find...the perfect cake! It was a cake miracle! Which now makes this cake my new favorite cake of all cakes.
Moral of this story: quit multitasking like an idiot and/or don't buy cheap springform pans and/or don't be afraid to say a prayer for a cake. It might just work!
(Gluten-free) Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from Tyler Florence's Cracked Chocolate Earth
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (I used Valrhona 71%), cut into small pieces
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
scant 1/2 t fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9" springform pan with either butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double-bolier (or like me: in a glass bowl set over 1-2" of simmering water in a saucepan--just don't let the bowl touch the water). Stir occasionally and when completely melted, set aside off the heat. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well mixed. Add a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs--so they don't scramble from the heat of the chocolate all at once. Add the remaining chocolate, fleur de sel and vanilla. Mix well set aside. Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer (with the whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture (this is where the largeness of the bowl matters). It's gonna look crazy and like it will never mix but trust me, just keep folding and folding and the egg whites will become incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the top is slightly cracked and/or a toothpick/skewer inserted comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it. When cool, release the sides of the pan and dust with powdered sugar. Serve at room temperature with coffee, ice cream, whipped cream or red wine. Or all of the above.
P.S. I was only 20 minutes late! Bonus: I found a bunch of tasty chocolate freckles on the drive.