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Hot under the cola

Sunday, July 7, 2013

There was this British monthly cooking magazine, aptly and simply called Cookbook, which I used to buy. It was only about 70-pages long, but every page was filled with recipes that I found easy to do since I wasn't much of a cook then. The first magazine I got was the November 1999 issue, and for the next year and a bit, I waited to get it every month. It cost £1.50 which doesn't seem a lot, but the Husband and I were living on his scholarship money (and a small sum of my savings) in London at the time and it was the only thing I spent our little money on after we took care of the rent and basic necessities.
Cookbook came in handy when I did a small three-day catering job for a friend of ours who was making a student film, and my whole menu came from the magazines. I didn't get paid for my time or labour but it was a good experience and I am credited as the caterer on the film!
Publication of the magazine stopped many years ago. I can't even find anything about it online now.
The recipe in Cookbook magazine, with my scribbles in red
I brought all the magazines back to Malaysia and they are now bound into two hefty volumes. I still look through them occasionally for ideas and recipes and have used an egg-free chocolate cake recipe from it (a reader's contribution) countless times. I have even adapted it – using orange juice instead of milk, ground ginger instead of  cocoa, omitting the cocoa powder altogether for a vanilla cake, and I have even made it into a Poppy Seed Crazy Cake.
For yet another adaptation, I wanted to use the recipe for a cola cake. The original recipe contains golden syrup, which I would substitute with a cola reduction. So I boiled down a tin of cola but it didn't turn syrupy enough, so I tried it again but this time added sugar to it before reducing it. It worked – it looked like treacle and the cola flavour was really strong. (Was that ginger I detected in the secret formula? I won't mention the brand but it's probably the most well-known one in the world!)
Unfortunately, the flavour wasn't distinctive in the cake. I'm still recording the recipe here because it makes a cake with a good taste and texture. It was a little sticky from the marshmallows but was chewy  as well though I haven't figured out why. It went down well with the family so I consider it a success, cola-less notwithstanding.
The pointy frosting 'decorations' on the plate were a happy accident*
Frosted Egg-free Chocolate (Cola) Cake
Makes an 18cm sandwich cake

Cola syrup

1 (325ml) can cola
3 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

275g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp quality cocoa powder
175g caster sugar
60g egg-free mini marshmallows
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
175ml buttermilk
150ml vegetable oil
3 tbsp cola syrup (or use golden syrup)
Chocolate ganache, pourable

To make the cola syrup, place cola and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Leave to bubble but swirl the pan around occasionally until mixture reduces to about 5 tbsp (about 100ml). Pour into a small container to cool. It will still be runny but will thicken a bit more upon standing.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and base line two 18cm sandwich tins.
Sift the all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and marshmallows, if using.
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in 1 tbsp of buttermilk. Add the remaining buttermilk, oil and cola syrup to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk-soda mixture. The batter will have a soft dropping consistency.
Divide the batter evenly between the tins and level the tops. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the centre is springy to the touch and the cakes are cooked. Cool in tins on a wire rack for 5 minutes (the cakes will shrink slightly), then turn out to cool completely. Remove the lining paper, wrap the two cakes in cling film and chill overnight. The flavour seems to develop after overnight storage.
Place one sponge on a serving plate. Put strips of greaseproof paper under the cake along the sides to catch the drips. Spread with some of the frosting. Place the other cake on top and spread with more frosting; chill to set. Pour on the ganache, allowing it to drip down the sides. Leave to set, then pull out the greaseproof paper strips. *The ganache drips may accidentally leave pretty streaks on the plate.

1 comment:

  1. Although I haven't eaten it myself, cola or coke cake is popular in the southern part of the States.


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