My 7-year-old and I were extremely bored last Monday. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we were trying to find something else to do with our free time at home, apart of dreaming about traveling to snowy places.
That's when Darienne's latest series of posts and somehow one chapter of An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler, started to act as a magic potion on my motivation.
We headed to the kitchen and I invited my son to make an experiment. At this point I have to add some background to the story: Science is highly appreciated here and anything related to mixing things and heating them to see what happens is welcome, especially by the older kid.
So he announced he wanted to try to bake a "I have a dream kind of cake" to celebrate the reason for the school day off. We started putting ingredients on the dining table and he helped choose his favorites: cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla. He asked me what to do. I declared that we would bake with no recipe, using our intuition and mixing things and adjusting the quantities. While I would add the ingredients, he would take notes. Then he mixed all the liquid ingredients with Mr. Whisk — a very lovely kitchen tool (in the photo).
Flour, eggs, milk, canola oil, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate chips were added gradually. We both stirred everything with the help of a vintage wooden spoon as we dared to make an "old times" cake, with no electricity wasted. The batter was looking beautiful and uniform, ready to go and be baked. He decided to include a secret ingredient, so to make the recipe unique. We did.
After 40 minutes the cake was ready — perfect taste and not so perfect texture — too dense. But the boy didn't care about the texture and enjoyed a big slice of it with a tall glass of milk. After one day of sitting on the countertop I just decided to give it a second chance. I sliced it with a sharp knife, and baked the sliced cake for about one hour. That's how these wonderful biscottis were born! And they made me think if somewhere in Italy biscottis were created like this — by chance. Or if it was just a way of giving a longer life to a once-upon-a-time cake.
Cocoa Cinnamon Biscotti
I see this recipe as a reference and a "freedom license" to create something out of it. For sure we will revisit it sometime to achieve the texture I would love to have. Darienne had a sample and called the biscotti a cross in between biscotti and brownies.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon your secret ingredient
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all dried in a bowl. In another bowl whisk all liquid ingredients. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. When blended, add chocolate chips and fold them to the batter. Transfer mix to a 9-x-13-inch cake pan and bake for about 35 minutes. When cold, slice it and bake the slices for about 30 more minutes at 375 F.
This was really great!
I admire the freedom to flow with ideas and follow them, the humbleness to be ready for failure, the wisdom to make an experiment and be ready to learn from it, and the flexibility to interact with it. A great lesson for life and all its unending challenges!
I wish I was there participating!
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