From couscous to quinoa, Maria Speck explores the art of cooking and baking whole grains with strong Mediterranean influences in Simply Ancient Grains.
My favorite chocolate cakes are pitch-dark and more bitter than sweet in the best of ways. Morsels of tart cherries take this one up a notch, and buttery whole grain Kamut flour in the background only intensifies its dark richness. This is a grown-up cake that, to everyone’s surprise, the children of all of my friends devoured. Always make the Marsala Cream for grown-ups—just do it.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Add the cherries and wine to a small bowl while you prep your ingredients, leaving to macerate for about 15 minutes, stirring once. Lightly butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly butter the paper as well. Dust the pan with cocoa, tapping out excess.
- Drain and gently pat dry the cherries and toss with 1 tablespoon of the flour. In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the remaining flour, the cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Be sure to loosen any lumps of cocoa with your dry fingers.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until lighter in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides with a silicone spatula a few times as needed. Beat in the honey.
- Add one egg at a time, beating until well incorporated, 30 seconds per egg, and scraping the sides each time. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add one-third of the flour mixture (a 1⁄2-cup measuring cup helps!), followed by half of the buttermilk, repeating once, and ending with the remaining one-third of the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides, then beat at medium speed to blend, about 10 seconds.
- Loosen the cherries with your fingers if they have clumped together. Using a spatula, gently fold them in with any flour, followed by the chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top, gently spreading all the way to the edges.
- Bake until the cake has risen, springs back when gently pressed, and a cake taster or toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a paring knife, loosen the cake around the edges and unmold. Peel off the parchment, turn it right side up, and return to the rack to cool completely before cutting, at least 2 hours.
- For best outcome, soak the cherries in the morning, at least 6 hours ahead, or the day before.
- Add the cherries and the Marsala to a small bowl and allow to macerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. (If you’re in a rush, you can add them to a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high until hot, about 25 seconds. Allow to cool.) Drain, reserving the wine.
- Add the cream and the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the soaking liquid to a medium bowl and whip, using an electric mixer at medium speed, until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the cherries with a spatula.
- Serve each slice of the cake with a dollop of the cream.
Reprinted with permission from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.