The big question of a simple chocolate cake.

(Brown sugar chocolate cake with treacle chocolate fudge frosting)

Before any mention of chocolate cake, I must first confess that I haven’t felt like baking much recently. (Is this it? Am I cured?) The boy is currently overseas for work reasons and prior to his departure, he had been sick for two weeks with a severe loss of appetite, though managed a miraculous recovery not long after touching down in Hong Kong. (Is this it? Is he cured?)

So, big absence of boy and very little baking happening. But rare is a situation which cannot be improved by the presence of a simple chocolate cake. On the first day this cake was made, I thought it was delicious. On the second day, I actually said Wow, out loud to myself. And because home economics for the single dweller often suffers from a lack of self-editing, I treated myself to a piece of this cake every evening thereafter. The one that got away : a piece not dissimilar in size to the one pictured above that was dispatched in foil to a friend who lives across the street and is currently suffering from relationship woes.

(Incidentally, did you also know that the leftover fudge frosting is phenomenal stirred into hot chocolate?)

Anyway, we are now down to the final slab, which brings us to the big question.. Save the last piece for his return, or eat it quickly and he’ll never know it ever existed in the first place?

Make this and tell me the answer is as plain and clear cut as a piece of simple chocolate cake.

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My life in 5 (cent) pieces

(Banana, cashew and sesame flapjacks)

Recently while trying to reduce the clutter in our house, I found the coin pig which B keeps his change in. He has a thing for not carrying spare change around. I have a thing about clutter. We don’t actually own that much stuff (aside from (ahem) cookbooks) but the truth is, my brain has a crazy way of coping with stress. When stressed, some people shop. I declutter.

So I made it a mission to get rid of every single coin and for the past week have been walking around with an extremely heavy wallet, slightly fearing that I would be caught out on a lie if anyone were to ask me for spare change. Interestingly, I’ve discovered that :

1) A friend will hear of my plan for total spare change dissipation and call it crazy. Why don’t you just take it to a bank? Well I could.. but how boring is that?

2) Twenty 10-cent pieces buys you a pretzel from the Swiss Bakery on Oxford Street. But I have a strange propensity towards apologising when paying in small currency (why? It’s still legal tender) so I’ve given up buying pretzels for the time being.

3) The local newsstand seems to welcome spare change, so I guess I’ll be getting the newspaper from them more often.

4) When a scruffy lady approaches you with a request for a donation to a charity you hadn’t heard of before and you offer her your 5-cent pieces, she will say no thanks and walk away. B says this only further confirms his theory that carrying too much spare change makes you a social leper.

5) Twenty 5-cent pieces also buys you bag of rolled oats from the supermarket. But the lady behind the counter will inspect every single coin closely and hand back to you the rogue New Zealand coin lying innocently in the pile. Once you’ve gotten over the embarrassment however, you can use the bag of oats to make Dan Lepard’s halva flapjacks. Trust me, after you make these, you’ll never use or want another flapjack recipe ever again.

For my flapjacks, I used roasted cashews and whole dried bananas (chopped) instead of the dates and walnuts. The lovely sesame flavour and chewiness of these flapjacks reminded me of Jupiter Caramel Bars (for those of us who are of an age substantial enough to remember those..). Spare change never tasted so good.

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