Please forgive the slapdash nature of this post. I'm in a rush.
That's because, aside from all the stuff I'm meant to be doing today, I've now got to catch up with all the stuff I should have done yesterday but didn't do yesterday because I spent yesterday:
a) waiting for a bed delivery, which was naturally late
b) cleaning up after said bed delivery, because removing the old bed revealed that our cleaner is not quite as thorough as I'd thought (cue Mount St Helens' dust cloud)
c) panicking about a dinner I was hosting for some new friends who have an immaculate home featured in Elle Deco and Paris Match, while our neglected rental was covered in pyroclastic flow
At least I'd baked dessert the day before, a flourless fudge cake from an Ottolenghi cookbook.
Below is how the recipe looks in the book. As you can tell from the worn state of the page, I've done this cake a few times. Every time I do it I fuck it up a bit (burn it, forget to double bake it, and who has time to cube butter anyway?) yet every time I serve it, it gets rave reviews. A fantastic recipe.
Below is a photo of the ingredients I'd assembled. You will notice that I added something that the otherwise talented boys at Ottolengui managed to miss: Kahlua. The way I see it, any recipe that includes 'water' as an ingredient can be improved by replacing water with booze.
You may also have noticed the sugar I used. Some clever French marketing exec probably thought "If it's not white, it's got to be funky." And their manager evidently thought "right on".
But let's not dwell on the state of FMCG marketing and race relations in France. Instead, let's look at my cake:
A masterpiece if I may say so myself. And this is what remained this morning:
The cake was a success. And the rest of the dinner was a success too. We had a wonderful evening with our friends and nobody was remotely aware of the day's earlier eruption and fall-out, which I swear looked something like this:
Which begs the question: How did my cake survive the noxious dusting?
A showercap. That's how. They make great food covers, which is why I always pocket a few from hotels when I travel. Granted, a glass cloche would be far more stylish, but this particular shower cap came from the Mandarin Oriental, New York. You can't get more stylish than that.
Style File Followers Take Note:
1. If you're thinking 'Otto-who?' visit www.ottolenghi.co.uk.
2. Showercaps won't protect cake from a real volcano.
3. Instead of showing my age by referencing Mount St Helens I should have referred to a more 'hip and happening' volcano like the Icelandic one that recently wreaked havoc on North Atlantic air traffic, but Eyjafjallajokull just doesn't have the same ring to it. Krakatoa, on the other hand, rolls right off the tongue, but Kahlua-Krakatoa Fudge Cake seemed like an OTT title, even for me.