Over the last few weeks, the internet has belonged to one Molly Yeh, blogger and entrepreneur behind the delectable blog, my name is yeh. Earlier this month, Molly made the leap that most food bloggers can only dream of with the publication of her first cookbook, Molly on the Range.
I was reading blogs long before I began writing my own, and Molly's was one of the first to truly enchant me. Her baking and writing styles are so different to my own, and yet I couldn't get enough of her experiments with sprinkles and with grammar (she hates the uppercase). Molly's creations are so clearly representative of her fun-loving and quirky personality, and it has been amazing to watch her enterprise grow from hobby to livelihood.
The blogosphere is a funny place. It's a platform that allows you to get to know people without them even knowing you exist. Before I start to sound like a total creeper, I should clarify that to me, this is amazing rather than suspicious. When you follow someone's blog, you get to share in their milestones, in their joy and sometimes, in their sadness too. It facilitate insight, inspiration and understanding into different characters, countries and cultures like no other medium allows.
Of course, it's important to remember that unlike a real friendship, bloggers are often very selective about which pockets of their lives they let you see. I have heard my life described as 'perfect' and 'idyllic' by my readers. I promise you, it is not. It's just that the mundane and the difficult tend not to make it into this space, which ultimately offers an escape from those very things.
And so, in a nod to the lovely Molly, a cake adorned with sprinkles that I had to order from the US specially. We Brits have many strengths, but it would seem that sprinkle design is not one of them.
for the cake
150g butter, melted
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
75g cocoa powder
100g soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs
175g sour cream
100g cold water
for the buttercream
50g dark chocolate, melted
70g egg whites (approximately 2 large eggs)
105g caster sugar
155g unsalted butter
sprinkles, to decorate
Heat the oven to 170°C / 150°C fan. Grease and line a 20cmx20cm square baking tin with parchment. Melt the butter in a small pan, then set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder. Once well mixed, add the sugars and whisk to combine. Make a well in the centre, then set aside.
Separately, whisk together the eggs and sour cream. Whisk in the melted butter, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk. Add the water, whisk, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. This is a very wet cake batter, so don't worry if it looks too thin. Carefully transfer to the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream. Melt your chocolate, then set aside. Weigh the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl, then set this over a pan of boiling water. If you have a sugar thermometer, attach this. Slowly heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reaches 50°C. If you don't have a thermometer, you can tell that it is ready when you pinch the mixture between your fingers and it is smooth (the sugar has totally dissolved).
Pour the mixture into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk for 7-10 minutes, until it has formed glossy soft-peaks. While it is whisking, cut up the butter into small pieces. When the meringue is ready, quickly throw in the butter with the whisk still running at high speed. Continue beating. Don't worry if it curdles initially, it will smooth out again. Once the mix is smooth, pour in the melted chocolate, and whisk until it is evenly mixed through.
To finish, spread the buttercream over the cake, and decorate with sprinkles.