KitchenTigress: Bamboo Charcoal Cake

Bamboo Charcoal Cake

Black is mysterious. Black is sophisticated. Black is . . . sexy.

What makes my cake black? It's bamboo charcoal that's been pulverized into a very, very fine powder.

You can see what my charcoal cake looks like but you can't taste it. Let me taste it for you.

Chomp, chomp, chomp . . . .

Hey, charcoal cake tastes like regular cake! It's just like vanilla cake except for the colour.

Chomp, chomp . . . zzzzz . . . .

Did you know charcoal powder makes you sleepy?

I didn't the first time I ate charcoal cake. I had a (small) piece late in the afternoon, then another (small) piece after dinner. That night, I struggled to stay awake after 10 pm and had to crawl into bed an hour later. I don't usually retire till well after midnight.

Besides treating insomnia, charcoal powder is a good antidote. It inactivates poisons by binding with the toxins.

Did you hear about the woman who, after taking some poison to kill herself, decided to eat some charcoal cake?

Said woman figured she could eat all the cake she wanted since she was about to die. So she ate and ate and ate . . . not realizing she was eating an antidote to the poison.

Guess what? Yup, she didn't die because she ate too much cake. The moral of the story is: Good things happen to those who eat lots of cake.

OK, I just totally made that up. If you were poisoned, you'd need loads of charcoal powder, loads more than there would be in a cake or two.

Treating a gassy stomach, OTOH, doesn't need much. Inhale a big slice of charcoal cake and the excess gas in your tummy would be gone. Isn't that nice? You can still eat cake when your tummy feels bloated!

If you've just had a French manicure, remember to wear gloves when you're handling charcoal powder. OTOH, if your black varnish is peeling around the edges, you could rub some charcoal powder on your nails.

Run out of eyeliner? Hey, what do you think Cleopatra used? Maybe not bamboo charcoal but it was definitely charcoal of some sort around her eyes, on her brows, and as a teeth whitener.

Charcoal powder has so many uses. Isn't it wonderful?

Baking good charcoal cake is easy when you have my tried and tested recipe. Frosting the cake isn't difficult either. Remember less is more or the cake's unusual colour wouldn't stand out. A few blackberries or black raspberries would add a nice accent. Anything else would spoil the minimalist look . . . .

Hey, I just had a brainwave! I'm gonna serve charcoal cake at my funeral . . . well, I won't be there . . . I mean I will be there but . . . . I guess I'll have to leave instructions. There must be a cake for every important occasion, right?

How to make bamboo charcoal cake

Step-by-step guide

Charcoal doesn't taste of anything. It just makes the cake black. The unusual colour makes the cake stand out.

bamboo charcoal cake
(For one 20 x 12 cm cake)
  • 1 tsp bamboo charcoal powder
  • 45 g full-fat milk – add to charcoal powder, stir thoroughly
  • 10 g castor sugar
  • 45 g egg yolks
  • 35 g corn oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 45 g cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/16 tsp salt

  • 105 g egg whites
  • 1/16 tsp cream of tartar
  • 35 g castor sugar
Whipped cream
  • 150 g dairy cream, 35% fat, cold
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tbsp sugar

  1. Trim 5 mm thick corrugated cardboard to fit sides of 23 x 15 cm cake pan. Wrap each piece of cardboard in aluminium foil, shining side facing out.

  2. Line bottom of 20 x 12 x 7.5 cm cake pan with 2 layers of parchment paper. Lightly grease top layer with oil.

  3. Preheat oven to 160°C. Measure and prep ingredients as detailed above.

  4. Whisk 10 g castor sugar with egg yolks till dissolved. Add corn oil. Whisk till just combined. Add charcoal milk and vanilla extract. Whisk till just thoroughly mixed. Sift cake flour and baking powder into mixture. Add salt. Whisk till just thoroughly mixed.
  5. Separately whisk egg whites till frothy. Add cream of tartar. Whisk till thick foam forms. Gradually add 35 g castor sugar whilst still whisking. Continue to whisk till firm peak stage.

  6. Thoroughly whisk yolk mixture, scraping bottom of bowl. Add half of egg whites. Mix with whisk till almost even. Add remaining egg whites. Mix with whisk till almost even. Scrape down and fold with spatula till just evenly mixed, banging mixing bowl against worktop 2-3 times.
  7. Pour batter into 20 x 12 x 7.5 cm cake pan, slowly and from about 30 cm high. Jiggle pan and tap lightly against worktop till batter is level. Place in bigger cake pan. Tuck cardboard between 2 pans. Bake in bottom of oven till cake doesn't make squishing sound when gently pressed around the middle, 50-55 minutes.

  8. Remove pans from oven. Set aside outer pan and cardboard. Drop pan holding cake from about 30 cm high, twice. Invert pan onto wire rack. Leave till just cool. As soon as cake is cool, slide knife along sides of pan. Unmould cake. Remove parchment paper.

  9. To make whipped cream, place cream and sugar in a bowl. Whisk till cream is just stiff. Add vanilla extract. Mix evenly.

  10. To frost cake, slice cake horizontally into 3 equal pieces. Invert what was top of cake so that cut side faces up. Spread evenly with whipped cream, about 2 mm thick. Top with what was middle of cake. Spread whipped cream as before. Place what was bottom of cake on cream, cut side down. Spread whipped cream as before. Chill till cream is firm. Trim 1 cm from edges. (Trimmings are, of course, perfectly edible.) Refrigerate till ready to serve.