This is one of my favourite photos of my sisters and I, taken on our old farm in Magaliesburg with our family friends, Bonny, Celeste and Vaughan. Our fathers grew up together and our mothers were destined to become firm friends too as Yoskie and Dawn lived on the top farm, just above ours. Dawn was a very important person in our lives: she made vetkoeks. But that’s a story for later.
For now, I want to share a recipe that takes me right back to this photograph. It was here, besides the old barn on the middle farm, that we would meet Chris and Tinks, both paleontologists, on the occasional weekend. Chris had a greying beard and knew a lot about books and bees. Tinks wore patterned shirts and an eccentric hairdo and always arrived with a very unusual tasting chocolate cake.
It’s not that I disliked Tinks’ chocolate cake. It was more a case of it looked strange and tasted strange and felt strange. I’d eat it slowly, wondering at its very peculiar flavour. I often thought about it over the years but could never figure it out… until my sister recently announced that she no longer eats eggs and I had to bake her a birthday cake.
I went through my Mom’s old recipes and discovered Tinks’ chocolate cake recipe amongst them. Wallah, no eggs! I got straight to work, mixed up the ingredients and dipped my finger in the thick brown batter to taste. Oh yes, that taste from all those years ago came whooshing back. I looked through the ingredients again. It had to be the cinnamon, mystery solved!
Or so I thought…
When it was ready, I took a teeny bite… it didn’t exactly taste of cinnamon… perhaps it was the combination of ingredients? I found myself eating it slowly, as I did when I was a child and still found myself wondering. My almost vegan sister (the baby in the photo above) enjoyed it and my Mom sure did too. I’m leaving it at that… the thing I’m wondering about now is this: whatever happened to Chris and Tinks?
Here is Tinks’ recipe, re-written by my Mom with her own notes:
CHOCOLATE CAKE – QUICK – TINKS’ – check below for my recipe
For the Cake
- 6 oz (185g) plain flour (1 ½ cups) – I used self raising flour and no baking powder
- pinch salt
- 3 level tablespoons cocoa powder (heaped)
- 1 level teaspoon bicarb of soda
- 1 level teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 6 oz light soft brown sugar (12 tablespoons) – I used brown treacle sugar
- 6 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- ¼ pt (150 ml) plus 4 tablespoons cold water (230 ml in total)
- 1 oz butter (30g)
- 6 level tablespoons light soft brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 ½ oz chopped walnuts (45g)
Tin size 9”x 11” (roasting tin)
Sieve the flour, cocoa, bicarb, salt, cinnamon and sugar into roasting tin
Add the oil, vinegar, vanilla essence and cold water
Mix all ingredients with a fork – I used an electric beater but not for long
Bake the cake on the shelf above the centre of a moderate oven, gas 4 or 350 (180 degrees) for 30 minutes or until a warm skewer inserted comes out clean
While cake is baking make topping
Beat butter until soft
Mix in sugar, milk and chopped walnuts
Immediately the cake is cooked spread the topping over the cake and put under a pre-heated grill lightly brown – NB be very careful – topping burns in seconds – don’t put too close to the grill
Leave cake to cool before cutting into 12 pieces – delicious with whipped cream
I hope to post Dawn’s vetkoek recipe soon.