Malva pudding cakes
16 August 2018
I’m a great believer in balance - and that means that there are times when you absolutely have something indulgent and startlingly calorific. Not often, of course. It’s no hardship to focus on natural fruits, vegetables, sustainably-sourced seafood and local high-welfare meat - you should be able to eat well, and with an eye to health and well-being while still enjoying delicious food.
This is one of the items you might consider for those other times. I first saw the recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog - following his visit to the restaurant Squirl, from whence the dish originates. It intrigued me. I’d never before seen or heard about a cake that, once baked, you cut a hole in the top and filled it until it couldn’t absorb any more of a creamy unctuous filling. The pictures of the spoon in that gooey treacley cake meant I immediately knew that, at some point, I would be making that cake.
The cake is made in small panettone moulds. I couldn’t find any in the UK that weren’t being sold for a parody price, although they must be available somewhere. Nevertheless, there were the self-same ones pictured in the original blog on the US Amazon site, and they were priced very modestly. So my first step in preparation for cooking these cakes was to get these little paper cases sent to me all the way from America. Just bizarre.
But the cases are quite important. You can’t take the cakes out of the cases - they’re too stuck, and once filled it could get rather messy if you tried. They have to be robust enough for the cakes to expand and fill. Cupcake cases won’t do it. No doubt there are other easy solutions, but I was happy to go to the original source. One less thing to worry about.
The actual cooking part is easy. You make a batter with flour, baking powder and bicarb, sugar, eggs, milk and butter - plus a smooth apricot jam beaten in right at the end. Bake the cakes until they’re darkened - “almost too much” - one of those instructions that gives you little palpitations because you suddenly understand that there is just a narrow margin between success and failure. According to Jessica Koslow, the cake’s creator, they have to be cooked that far to be able to absorb the filling.
Then you make the hot filling from double cream, sugar, butter and a little water. Once the cakes are cooked, and while they are still warm (I left mine for 5 minutes from the oven) cut a slit in the top of the cake and pour in - bit by bit - the filling. Pour it, wait for it to be absorbed, pour some more. Get to the point where the cake will absorb no more and move onto the next one.
The final result is gooey, rich, sweet and spectacular. If you’re going to indulge yourself, it’s something like this that actually makes it worth the while.
I did come away from the exercise with some thoughts in mind for how this approach could be adapted. There’s a specific idea in mind. Experimentation awaits. If it turns out successfully, I’ll give the recipe here. In the mean time, you can go here for the Malva Cakes recipe as I followed it from David’s blog.
If you love that recipe, it might be worth, as I just did, going to the original source where another 100 more await you - the Squirl cookbook “Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking”