It’s not customary to buy yourself a present for someone else’s birthday, but hopefully buying yourself the equipment to bake a really good birthday cake is excusable. Baking using the tea-cup guestimation technique is great for muffins, but not for a proper torte. Electronic scales are not only more accurate than teacups, but also nicer to use than a spring scale when you’re weighing small quantities.
The birthday cake request was for a chocolate cake and something a little decadent. I based the recipe on the Havanna-Torte from Josef Rönner’s “Das große Vollwert-Backbuch” (The big wholefood baking book). It is a light-textured chocolate cake with hazelnut meal, and the original was filled with chocolate pudding. Pudding in the German sense refers to a custardy dessert which is often used to fill cakes. Since it is made from wheat starch it’s not a good option for a gluten free cake. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your filling though.
Quark, a tangy German cream cheese, makes an excellent alternative filling for this cake when flavoured with chocolate. In Germany you can get quark in various levels of creaminess, approximately 5, 25 and 45% fat, and for this filling you want the creamy one. If you can’t buy quark where you live, making your own is not difficult, but requires an overnight step. Your reward is a slightly tangy chocolate quark filling for your nutty chocolate torte.
Chocolate Quark Torte
To achieve the wholefood intention of this recipe you should use raw sugar and wholemeal flour. A gluten free flour blend can be used in place of the wheat flour if you need to satisfy dietary requirements. Unfortunately these flour blends are made from starches rather than whole grains.
For the Cake
4 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp cinnamon
50g olive oil (or melted butter)
100g dark chocolate (melted)
65g sugar (raw)
75g plain flour (wholemeal or gluten free)
50g hazelnut meal
1 tab cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
For the Filling and Icing
250g quark (45% fat, or well drained homemade quark)
2 tabs castor sugar
100g dark chocolate (plus a couple of squares for grating)
Method for the Cake
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
Separate the eggs.
Beat the eggyolks with honey until creamy. Add the cinnamon.
Add the oil and melted chocolate to the eggyolk mixture and stir thoroughly.
Beat the eggwhites with the sugar until stiff peaks form.
Combine the dry ingredients: flour, nut meal, baking powder and cocoa, in a separate bowl.
Mix the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture.
Fold the beaten eggwhites into the main mixture. It is best to do this in two additions so that you don’t lose too much air when you’re folding it.
Pour into a prepared 24cm springform pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celcius.
Allow the cake to cool before filling.
Method to Fill and Decorate
Bring the quark towards room temperature and melt the chocolate.
Thoroughly combine the chocolate and sugar with the quark.
Slice the cooled cake in half.
Cover the bottom half with about 2/3 of the chocolate quark.
Place the top half of the cake back on.
Ice with the remaining chocolate quark. Decorate with a little grated chocolate. I needed two squares for a light sprinkling of gratings which I made with a paring knife.