I’m in a bit of a buckwheat craze. It all started out innocently enough that time I made a dutch baby. Now, If you’ve ever had a dutch baby, you’ll understand my excitement, and in my ensuing dutch baby craze I discovered a recipe for a buckwheat version with salted caramel. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was post-dutch baby and scrolling through a recipe for chocolate buckwheat cake.
Buckwheat has an unusual taste. I might describe it as nutty and metallic and clean, but these adjectives inevitably come up short. An article entitled “The Basics of Buckwheat” describes the taste in more abstract terms: “distinctive,” “robust,” and “not timid.” ‘Not timid’ is my favorite.
The buckwheat hits you hardest at first bite, but after that, it’s mostly just a delicious chocolate cake (and easy enough to throw together). Everyday can be improved with homemade cake. All the better if it’s chocolate.
On the subject of cooking in borrowed kitchens: one challenge is that sometimes you find yourself without helpful equipment. This time my brother and I were electric-mixer-less, so we beat the egg yolk mixture by hand. All I’ll say is that pre-industrial age bakers must’ve been ripped.
Chocolate buckwheat cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate buckwheat cake, which was adapted from La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life
Yield: One thin 9-inch round cake, or one slightly thicker 8-inch round cake
7 tablespoons (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering pan
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) bittersweet dark chocolate (70 to 72 percent is ideal)
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces) granulated or blond cane sugar
A good pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (35 grams or 1 1/4 ounces) buckwheat flour
1/4 cup (30 grams or 1 ounce) almond meal
Confectioners’ sugar, lightly whipped cream and/or berries to serve (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double-boiler (a heatproof bowl resting on a pot of lightly simmering water) or in short bursts in the microwave, stirring frequently. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mix, beat the eggs and sugar with salt until light and pale and doubled in volume. This will take anywhere from 5 to even 9 minutes. Or, if you’re electric-mixer-less like me, beat by hand. Don’t skimp on this! This step will make all the difference.
Gently fold in the vanilla and melted chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the buckwheat and almond flours over the batter and fold gently to combine. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. A tester inserted into the center of the cake should come out dry.
Let cool for five minutes on a rack then invert onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, and return upright on a serving plate. Serve in wedges, dusted with powdered sugar, dolloped with lightly whipped cream and/or scattered with berries.