Some people have spirit animals.
I have a spirit cake.
I'd been trying to find the perfect chocolate cake for ages—soft in the centre, crispy on top, and super boozy. I tried a bunch of recipes, the best being Smitten Kitchen’s Valerie's French Chocolate Cake. Replacing the water with booze plus some tweaks made a perfect moist, spirited cake.
I made one and gave half to my Swiss family.
An hour later I got a text from my sister-in-law: “is that a Sven Epiney cake?”
The Sven Epiney Cake
Although I may have seen him on SRF, I was not acquainted with the long and colourful TV presenting career of the eternally young-looking Sven Epiney. Famed for moderating many Swiss talent related programs, from Eurovision to Miss Switzerland, he's been in the public eye since the mid-80s when he, as a 13-year-old, hosted a children's show.
Although the cake's ingredients differ slightly, this definitely resembles Sven's beloved cake.
About a week after the cake experiment I got an email from Livia, a reader in Australia
“Have you ever tried the famous 'Wolkenkuchen'? Whenever I make it here, people go nuts for it... I don't know where it originated, but Sven Epiney seems to have made it famous ...”
Delighted with the coincidence, I made Sven’s cake, then melded the recipes, experimenting with different boozes. Livia said she makes hers with coconut to appeal to the Aussies, and suggested orange for the holidays. I made an absinthe version, and one with rum and cinnamon.
This chocolate cake can be customised with practically any kind of boozy flavouring and is perfect for any occasion—least of all ringing in the new year.
125 g butter
180 g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp spirit of choice (suggestions below)
50 g flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
180 g sugar
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4.
Line the bottom of a 24 cm (9 inch) springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
In a large saucepan, melt together the butter and chocolate. Whisk in the booze. Let cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Separate the eggs.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff and glossy.
In another large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar plus a splash of water (or spirit).
Now you have four separate bowls/pots. Whisk the cooled chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture. Then gently fold in the flour mixture. Then fold in the whipped egg whites.
Pour this into your prepared pan.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until you can smell the cake, and the top looks like it has just barely set. The insides should remain wet.
- There are numerous possible flavour combinations.
- For spirits try: rum, absinthe, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, kirsch, even champagne.
- You can add spices to your flour mixture at will—perhaps cinnamon, ginger or gingerbread spice.
- Additionally, add some grated orange rind or perhaps coconut to the batter, or on top.