I’ve been thinking recently about mimicry. As I continue to develop my styling and photography skills I notice myself drawing heavily on inspiration from other bloggers. Sometimes I feel creative and the recipes and styling come easily and sometimes I don’t know what to do with the food in front of me (other than eat it of course). I often feel guilty for copying others but these feelings are tempered by the justification that there is nothing truly original when it comes to cooking and art.
Pablo Picasso said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” I do believe that mimicry is the best way to broaden my horizons, learn new techniques, and eventually develop a style of my own.
So in honor of mimicry and the creativity it engenders I’ve adapted Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Chocolate Krantz Cake. I had these cakes at a dinner a few nights ago and something strange happened when I took the first bite. I tasted the sweet yeasted bread, the rich dark chocolate, the bright lemon zest and then I imagined the taste of fennel and anise. I imagined it so well that I actually tasted it. Call it an epiphany or blame it on hallucinatory taste buds. Either way it was a good idea…
On a business related note I’d like to draw your attention to the Saveur Food Blog Awards which are happening this month. These awards are renowned and respected in the food blogging community. If you like what you see here, please consider nominating Tending the Table. It’s super easy. Just go to Saveur and enter the URL for this site, select a category or two that you think describe this blog, and enter your name and email. Then go make cake.
This cake is so good you’ll want to eat it for breakfast. I did. I replaced the lemon zest with orange, the confectioners sugar in the filling with dates and infused the syrup with fennel and star anise to add an exotic note and aid with digestion. Enjoy!
CHOCOLATE PULL APART BREAD WITH ORANGE DATES AND ANISE
Adapted from Jerusalem
Makes 1 loaf
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
zest from 1 orange
¼ cup water
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
sunflower oil for greasing
½ cup butter, melted
6 medjool dates, pitted and soaked
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 star anise
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and orange zest until combined. Add the eggs and water and mix on medium speed for several minutes until the dough comes together. Add the salt and then the butter, one piece at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding the next. Continue mixing for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-5 hours.
Meanwhile make the filling. Blend the melted butter, soaked dates and cocoa powder until they form a paste.
Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a rectangle about 15 by 11 inches. Cut the sides to make them even. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border. Roll the rectangle up and seal by pressing the dough into itself, creating a seam. Trim about an inch off of both ends. With the seam facing down, cut the roll lengthwise with a serrated knife. Pinch two ends together then with the cut sides facing up lift one half over the other, alternating, to form a twist. Pinch together the other end. Place the twisted roll into the loaf pan, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the cloth and place the cake in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Meanwhile make the syrup. Combine the water, sugar, fennel and star anise and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar then set aside to cool and steep. Once cool, pour the syrup through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Remove the cake from the oven and brush the anise infused syrup over the cake, making sure to use all of the syrup. Allow the cake to cool before serving.