Foodiva's Kitchen: Russian Chip Cake and Blog Despair Therapy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Russian Chip Cake and Blog Despair Therapy

I think I need to undergo some Blog Despair Therapy. Every day last week, I had looked at this blog, started to type up something, looked at it again and felt.... utter despair. Couldn't write another word, didn't want to, more like it. Oh, there were no lack of recipes because there's something cooking in this house everyday (well, the kids had to eat, even though I could quite happily go on a diet when I'm in that 'urrrgh' state of mind). I just didn't feel like posting anything. Seeing the prolificness and discipline of other bloggers didn't help any. In my heavy heart I thought, am I the only one suffering from this?

Until one day I came across this post by Sara of Caffe Ina, who was also having a bad day (but still managed to write something!). She was suffering from her so-called blog depression and the symptoms she described were exactly what I was feeling! All of a sudden, I didn't feel so bad knowing that someone else (many other bloggers, in fact) would come to this stage at some point. Call it Blogger's Block, that was precisely what I had.

Oh yes, amongst the comments to Sara's post was one by the very talented Cristina of From Buenos Aires To Paris. I feel this deserved mentioning because as amazing a food blogger as Cristina is, she too apparently has her down days when it comes to blogging. Welllllll.... at least I was in good company! Funnily, she also coined the term "Group Blog Despair Therapy" (GBDT) and reckoned somebody should go ahead and start this group. Forget about Food Bloggers Anonymous, the GBDT sounds much better and so support-groupish - and we all need each other to continually feed this fire inside, don't we?

So here I am. Totally undespairing and wanting to share with you one of my all-time favorite recipes - Russian Chip Cake. Ironically, I learnt this recipe not in Russia (where I'd frequently travelled to for work) but in Germany. It's a favorite because it was the first cake I had baked that drew compliments, I mean, genuine ones. It's ridiculously easy, too, adding more points to its already high score on my nepotism scale. And Germany was also the place where I'd learnt to really bake so naturally, many of the desserts I'd put my hand to while there became my favorites. You could say my Baking A-ha Moment! was peppered in Deutsch, as were most of my recipe books from those days. Being back home for good now, my spoken German is not so much rusty as it is extinct - but I swear, I can still decipher those Deutsch culinary instructions to a T.

Presumably, the origin of this dessert is from Russia although Google couldn't come up with anything conclusive on this point (so let's just keep assuming until someone reading this can point out otherwise). Why Chip Cake, though? Well, the same dough for the base is torn by hand or chopped roughly to make flat 'chips' which are then arranged on top of the cream cheese-custard filling. Not only is the overall look of the cake pretty striking, the rich flavors and textural combinations of cocoa, butter and creamy custard make this a sensational winner each time. Give it a try it if you don't believe me.

Russian Chip Cake
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2t baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
125g (1 stick) butter. softened
1 egg

250g (1 packet) Philadelphia cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
2 eggs
4T custard powder
125g (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line the base of an 8-inch round baking tin with non-stick baking paper and grease the sides with butter.
2. Make the dough for base and chips first: Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, egg and butter. Use the kneading hook on the food mixer at low speed, and then increase to high speed as the dough firms up.
3. Dust the work surface with flour and knead the dough to a smooth texture.
4. Divide the dough into two portions. Take one and roll the dough to cover the base of the baking tin. Press up the sides and cut off the excess with a knife.
5. For the filling: Blend the softened cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs, custard powder and melted cooled butter until a smooth mixture is formed. Spoon filling into the tin and level off the surface with a spatula.
6. Tear out 1-inch pieces of the remaining dough, or chop into think chunks with a knife. These are the 'chips' to be arranged carefully on top of the filling until it is almost completely covered.
7. Bake for 60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out and serving.


Quay Po Cooks said...

This is an absolutely stunning cake! I know exactly what you are talking about when you said you need BDT so when GBDT is on, don't leave me out! Hope you get over your BD soon.

Foodiva said...

LOL... It looks like GBDT will so catch on! Of course if it really happens and the Group is formed, you will be the first to be invited, my lovely. Hmm... I wonder who could be the therapist? Chef Dennis, maybe? ;-)

Michael Toa said...

What a delicious cake! yum...
I think everyone have their blogger's block moment. Don't worry. :)
I hope you are well. Michael

Foodiva said...

Michael! I saw your rum, birthday and Goddess Nigella escapades and I am inspired - though utterly envious! Glad you dropped by, I missed you.

Carolyn said...

I am in for the GBDT, as I commented on Caffe Ina as well. It's a true love/hate relationship and when it has me down, it REALLY has me down.
Your Russian Chip Cake, however, would have me up, up, up!

Jennifurla said...

VIBES to break that bloggy depression! This cake looks scrumptious

Michael Toa said...

I missed you too... :)

Anonymous said...

I live in Russia.
This pie at us refers to the Giraffe. This pie not so is popular in us. And I never would think, that it is Russian pie!

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