During the 11 days of my exam period, I had a craving for a dark yet light chocolate cake with a sour cream tang. The day before my last exam, I bought the ingredients for this cake so I could make it once I had finished. I had been dreaming about the day I would finally finish my degree for months. I felt as if the moment I was told to stop writing the sun would suddenly start shining and life would start again, beautiful, vibrant and exciting. I daydreamed about idyllic summer days with perfect friendships and relationships and lots of cake and laughter.
Unfortunately, as something deep inside me suspected, finishing was not all I wanted. I sat in the examination room with my heart thumping loudly inside my chest, waiting for those last few minutes to tick away. Nothing changed when the clock hand hit 12:30. I had a nice afternoon but the elation never came. I was utterly exhausted. The next morning things started changing out of my control and my daydreams started to fade quickly from sight. Instead everything around me blazing into colour, I felt desaturated even further and stuck in a bleak landscape I didn't have the energy to escape.
Though my life is not how I imagined it to be a few weeks ago, I cannot say that I am not hopeful for the future. I am proud of myself for what I have achieved in finishing my degree. I have learnt valuable lessons in the past ten days. I believe in taking the best from a situation and that everything happens for a reason. As every day passes the exhaustion seeps away and I feel stronger. I have many exciting challenges and adventures to come and, I'm sure, many bright happy days.
As it happens, I have had one part of my wish: lots of cake. Exactly a week after I had sat writing my last exam, I finally stood in my kitchen in Oxford making this cake. It's delicious and all I had hoped it might be. My 22nd birthday on Friday also had cake despite the sad notes that hung over the day. I'll post about my birthday cake and another treat I made while recovering in Switzerland soon. Posting should generally resume, as my life is slowly beginning to.
Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake
For the cake:
240g sour cream
55g best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
230g plain flour
150g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease the bundt tin well with butter. Lightly beat the eggs in a large jug then whisk the sour cream, cocoa and vanilla in until combined. In a mixer whisk the flour, sugars, baking powder, bicarb and salt together until evenly distributed. Add the soft butter and half the cocoa mix and slowly whisk until nearly combined, then increase the speed until fully incorporated. Slowly add more of the cocoa mix from the jug until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the bundt tin and tap it a few times on your worktop to flatten and evenly distribute the mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes - it's ready when a skewer/tester can be removed cleanly from the centre of part of the ring. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
For the icing:
75g icing sugar
35ml sour cream
(1 tbsp milk)
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the water from the pan then melt the butter in the pan. Slowly add the melted butter to the chocolate while whisking. Add the sour cream and sift half of the sugar over the top and then whisk to combine (I did the s.c. first without the sugar and it went a bit funny, so I recommend following Joy's instructions and doing them together). Add the rest of the sugar and whisk again. Finally add the coffee and whisk once more. If too stiff, add a tbsp of milk and whisk again.