We thought we had plenty of baking powder, but two months of quarantine
brownies left us with an empty container. Worse still, I couldn't find
any at the only two likely shops within a 20km radius.
I felt sure my fledgling baking career could not survive the prospect of
baking nothing but cookies (with the baking soda I still had) for the
next several months — but my serene French colleague, who
started baking when she was a little girl, was quite unruffled.
“Fondant”, she said.
I didn't really know what fondant was, but I had a vague idea that it
was used to decorate cakes. But the French fondant is a gooey,
delicious, rich chocolate cake that contains no leavening agents. The
perfect reward for my poor inventory management.
The starter fondant
Here's the first
I found. The process seemed perfectly straightforward:
- Melt chocolate and butter together in a water bath
- Whisk together eggs and sugar with a pinch of salt in a bowl
- Combine the cooled chocolate and butter with the egg mixture
- Sift flour into the mixture and combine to form a liquid batter
- Bake for 11 minutes at 180°C in buttered muffin tins.
So we did it. It was simple. The results were delicious.
The decadent French version
Later, I found a
different recipe in French.
Both the proportions and the process were different. The same amount of
chocolate and butter, but a lot more sugar and a little less flour. The
- Melt chocolate with a little water in a water bath
- Mix together softened butter with powdered sugar until smooth
- Alternate adding the eggs (one at a time) and flour to this mixture,
mixing well in between additions
- Stir the cooled melted chocolate into this batter
- Bake for 25–30 minutes at 150°C in a buttered cake tin.
The mixing took a little longer, but the results were out of this world.
The cake was beautifully fondant (“melting”) in the centre, and
just barely set around the sides. It was delicious the day it was baked,
and tasted even better the next morning.
Perhaps it was the altered proportions that made the real difference,
but I would like to think the process also helped. If nothing else,
starting out by mixing butter and sugar felt more like baking a cake.
Whatever the reason, had I not made the simplified fondant first, I
would not have been able to truly appreciate the second version.
As for baking powder, I don't know when we'll be able to buy some again,
but for brownies and pancakes, making up the same volume with a third of
baking soda and two-thirds white vinegar is a workable substitute.