It’s very possible Belgian chocolate is the greatest invention in the history of the world. Luckily, we met Jane Soudah of Sweet Jane’s Bakeshop in South Pasadena and asked her to make us a sampling of two inspired desserts for this issue and we had the enjoyable task of tasting them both. They were sublime.
Words: Brad Roe
Images: Tim Schamber
A Bakery Begins
Background. I started baking in the fourth grade and by middle school I was selling cookies and brownies to friends. I worked in kitchens in high school and college and ended up with a bachelor’s degree from Cornell in food science, then a master’s degree in food safety. I worked for the FDA for seven years after college, but always baked and always loved to make food for friends.
Inspiration. In the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to start my own bakery and after a friend encouraged me, I opened up an online bakery this past February.
Top Sellers. The brownies and the chocolate cake are the two best sellers. The shortbread cookies are selling well also!
Favorite Ingredient. I only use Belgian Chocolate and cocoa powder. I love the way it tastes.
Essential. My KitchenAid mixer. It was a birthday present when I graduated from college in 1996 and the same one I’ve been using ever since. It mixes beautifully and it’s powerful.
Dream. I still think I would love a space for a bakery. That is my dream. I was also just hired as a design consultant for Eveleigh in Los Angeles. I am training their dessert cooks in pastry and different techniques and adding new recipes to their menu. I guess they are selling out every night, so I’m really happy.
CHOCOLATE-CARAMEL CAKE WITH SEA SALT (serves 10)
WHAT YOU NEED
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2¼cups all-purpose flour
¾cup Callebaut Belgian unsweetened cocoa powder
1¾teaspoons baking powder
¼teaspoon baking soda
½teaspoon kosher salt
1tablespoon vanilla extract
1⅓cups lukewarm water
Frosting and assembly
12ounces Callebaut bittersweet chocolate chips
1tablespoon light corn syrup
1cup heavy cream
1½cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾teaspoon Maldon sea salt
38-inch-diameter cake pans
For the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs and sugar until pale and doubled in volume, about 4 minutes. Add mayonnaise and vanilla and beat until just combined. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into pans, dividing evenly. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 25–30 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks and let cool 20 minutes before turning out onto racks. Let cool completely.
For frosting and assembly: Put chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 10–12 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to medium heat and cook, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel over chocolate and stir until mixture is smooth; let cool, stirring occasionally.
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed beat chocolate mixture, gradually adding butter, until frosting is thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Chill, stirring occasionally, until stiff enough to spread easily, 20–25 minutes.
Place one cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over to come just beyond edges. Sprinkle with ¼-teaspoon salt and place second cake layer on top, pressing down gently. Repeat process with 1 cup frosting and ¼-teaspoon salt. Place third layer on top, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Serve at room temperature.
WHAT YOU NEED
1¼cups all-purpose flour
2tablespoons Callebaut Belgian unsweetened
11ounces Callebaut bittersweet chocolate chips
1cup unsalted butter
½cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2teaspoons vanilla extract
½cup homemade or good store-bought
½teaspoon fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat 9- x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl. Put the chocolate and butter together in a heavy saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Turn off the heat and add the sugar and brown sugar. Stir until completely combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the chocolate-sugar mixture, stirring to combine after the addition of each egg. Add the vanilla and stir until just combined.
Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Dollop the caramel sauce on top of the brownie batter using a tablespoon. Using the tip of a knife, swirl the caramel mixture into the brownie batter. Sprinkle the batter with the fleur de sel. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. Cool brownies completely before cutting into squares.
All recipes courtesy of www.epicurious.com
Check out Jane’s website.
From Issue 30. But it here.