Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Chocolate mayo cake (A Cornish Affair)

What is it with literary heroines who bolt from the church, leaving behind a bewildered groom and upset family?! It so happened that in a matter of weeks, I have read two books where main protagonists do just that. Whatever reason you have, it is irresponsible to run away when all the family and guests are waiting inside the church. Surely there could have been a better moment to call off the wedding?! Such selfish characters don't garner any sympathy from me.
Jude, an American fleeing her stilted-in-human-emotions family, finds herself in Cornwall. The actual move to Cornwall from the States to do a minor job of cataloguing a private library of books and academic papers sounds not very plausible. She starts an unenviable task of going through the clutter of papers and slowly falls in love with the house. Pengarrock is a crumbling manor house which hides great sadness and tragedies.
In some ways, the novel reminded me of Mary Stewart's Thornyhold, Rose Cottage and The Ivy Tree and her romantic heroines.
I have recently reviewed The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick, and A Cornish Affair is the 2nd book in the trilogy, very loosely connected to the 1st one. Between the two, I prefer the 2nd novel, though I did struggle a bit with motivations behind Jude's behaviour. We are all shaped by our past. Jude and her family are traumatised by the death of her older sister, and have lost all abilities to love and understand each other. They turn into opposites with mother being very pushy, and Jude a complete pushover, who cannot even choose her own wedding dress.
Once the story starts to unfold in the Cornish setting, it becomes much more interesting. I enjoyed all the descriptions of the landscapes and the old manor house.
The story of the lost family treasure was again quite convoluted.
Handsome men of the story leave me cold. It's not that I expect the main male character with whom our heroine falls in love to be a chubby bloke with a greasy combover and mismatched socks. But it's the second novel, where the main man is described as tasty, delicious, with tight fitting trousers which enhance their manly attractions. I have started the third novel in the trilogy, and can't wait to find out if the love interest is going to have a delicious ass as well. He probably will.

As usual, reading the novel, I kept an eye on food references. Crab salad didn't appeal to me, as I cooked a crab souffle for the first novel. Jude is celebrating her birthday, and the housekeeper bakes a chocolate cake for her.

"Helen was back on form and instead of mugs we were being treated to silver and china, with a beautiful sponge cake decorated with sugared violets.
"They look so pretty, it's almost a shame to eat them", I took a cup.
"It would be a sacrilege to cut that cake", Barbara picked up one pile of letters.
"Mind you, I'd be more worried if we didn't touch the cake. Have you encountered Helen when she's angry?" I sliced into the culinary work of art"

I didn't have any sugared violets at hand, so decided to decorate my chocolate cake with silver pearls. I don't know of any special Cornish chocolate cake, but thought Helen sounds quite old-fashioned, and would follow the well known recipes, like a chocolate cake made with Hellmann's mayo.
Incidentally I have recently repinned an old magazine cutting with the Hellmann's mayo cake, and it proved to be rather popular. I haven't tested that recipe, as I am not sure about skipping the eggs altogether and using so much mayo. I looked up another recipe with mayo and adapted Super Moist Chocolate Cake recipe, which appealed more to me. I drastically reduced the amount of sugar which was 1 and 2/3 cups, i.e. 350g, and added some extra flavours.

Chocolate mayo cake

3 medium eggs
200g caster sugar
60g cocoa
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla bean extract
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
225ml Hellmann's Real mayonnaise
2 drops of rose extract (Spice Drops) (optional)
280g self-raising flour
250ml water
for the frosting:
100g softened butter
300g icing sugar
3tbsp cocoa
40ml milk
1/2 dark chocolate bar

Beat the eggs with the sugar in a big sized mixing bowl. Sift the cocoa and baking powder in, mix well. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest, mayonnaise, rose extract, flour and keep mixing. Add water, a little bit at a time, and mix until your cake batter is smooth. Pour into the oiled cake tin.
Put the tin in the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for 45+ minutes. Check if it's ready with a wooden skewer.
Once cooked, let it cool a bit before removing from the tin.
Let it cool completely before decorating with the frosting.
For the frosting mix the softened butter with the icing sugar and cocoa, add milk, and whizz all with a hand blender. Melt the chocolate bar, and top up the frosting on the cake. Decorate with Dr Oetker silver pearls.

It is a lovely moist cake, with a rich chocolatey flavour. It's not overly sweet, which I like.
Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

I used Food Thoughts cocoa in this recipe, which is one of the products in the latest Degustabox. It is organic Fairtrade 100% cocoa, made from the finest cocoa beans which are sun dried naturally. This cocoa is a great baking ingredient, flavourful and rich. There's no added sugar, so it's just pure cocoa, as it should be. I'm not very keen on ready-mixed cocoa blends with sugar and dried milk as I usually find them way too sweet. This cocoa smells delicious and has a superior taste.

Have you read a book recently which inspired you to run to the kitchen and cook to your heart's content?

I hope you are inspired by books to join in our #ReadCookEat challenge.

The idea is to choose a book, either a world classic or modern fiction, or even memoirs and pick up a dish mentioned or described in that book and then recreate it in a recipe. Please say a few lines about your chosen book, and maybe even do a quote from the book.

If you decide to take part, please add the badge to your post and link up back to me, and either use a link-up tool or add the url of your post as a comment. Alternatively, email me with the link to your post (my email is sasha1703 at yahoo dot com).

I promise to Pin all blogs posts taking part in this challenge, as well as RT and Google+


  1. I made a cake with mayonnaise once but I'd forgotten all about it - now that you've reminded me, I'll have to give it another go. You always have such patience when decorating your cakes which is why they look so amazing- I just throw a handful of random sprinkles on top of mine ! And I did chuckle at your review of the book ! xx

    1. Thank you Cheryl! Curious to find out which recipe you used? was it an eggless recipe? Your cakes are delish too!

  2. I like this challenge... so let me think about it and do something too :)

    1. Federica, I'd love you to join in. That would be super!

  3. This looks lovely. So far I have read three books, devoid of food. Hopefully my next pick will be better

    1. You're clearly reading "wrong" books, Alison! :)

  4. What a pretty cake - I still haven't ever got around to baking with mayo. Thanks for the reminder. I haven't got any sugared violets but I do have a daughter named Violet if that counts? ;-) I completely agree about people doing a runner at the altar - how many times does that REALLY happen? Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums Food. Thanks for joining in the Food Roundup x

    1. It's a pretty name, Helen. I can't say I'm entirely convinced about the whole mayo thing, it was a tasty cake, but you can make a moist cake with other ingredients