Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cooking from the Books with K: A Chocolate Cake for Matilda

If you have been reading here, you may notice that I have been a bit focused on the Tour de France. Someone asked one day if K watches with me. The answer, sadly, is no. For many of the stages she is asleep (hello, 3 am wakeups) and for others at her father's house. But when she is awake and I am watching she tends to do one of two things: read or bake. Thus, a special post-Tour Cooking from the Books.

In this edition we present: Roald Dahl's Matilda. Although K read most of the Dahl books years ago, I never thought that she was a big fan. She says "I liked and read them in second grade." But this summer, she had two weeks of Musical Theater summer camp. In their end of camp recital they performed songs and skits from two musicals: Pippin and Matilda. Thus, I have spent the past month or so listening to the songs of Matilda. Working on the songs, K was inspired to re-read the book.

As always, K's thoughts: "Matilda is about a girl named Matilda Wormwood, whose parents ignore her and love tv more than anything. At 5 years old she can read collage level books and is excellent at math. Her school's headmistress, Miss Trunchbull is a cruel, twisted person who believes strongly that children are maggots; that is the school motto. 
Matilda's teacher though, is a kind quiet woman named Miss Honey, who sees Matilda's brilliance and tries to talk to her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood however laugh at the idea of Matilda being smart, kind, and the thought of her ever going to collage. 

Later, we see that the Trunchbull will do almost anything, including throwing children by their hair or ears. When a boy named Bruce Bogtrotter sneaks a slice of her chocolate cake, she makes him eat the whole thing in front of the whole school. When she comes to check on the class, Matilda's best friend Lavender puts a newt into her water jug. The Trunchbull believes it is a crocodile and freaks out. Somehow, Matilda uses a power she never knew she had and knocks the glass over. She later tries to show Miss Honey what she can do. 

Miss Honey invites Matilda over to visit. We see that Miss Honey lives in a tiny house, having her house and money stolen by her evil aunt, Miss Trunchbull. Matilda asks some pointless seeming questions, and goes home to practice her power. 

The next day at school, Miss Trunchbull visits them again, and Matilda levitates a piece of chalk and writes; "Agatha, This is Magnus. Give my little bumblebee her house and her money. Then get out of town. If you don't, I will get you. I will get you like you got me. That is a promise." Miss Trunchbull runs away, never to be seen again.

 Then Matilda finds out her family is moving to Spain and begs Miss Honey to adopt her. She does and they all live happily ever after.
 There is also a musical of this, that we did parts of at camp, that has very good songs. I like the cake and blackboard parts."

K was pretty clear on what she wanted to make from Matilda "the richest most chocolatey cake we can find, like Bruce had to eat." She then spent far too much time searching through the cookbooks in our house, unable to find a recipe that made her happy. After some crowd sourcing on Twitter, we ended up with this recipe from Epicurious. You can use the chocolate cake recipe of your choice. 

However, K was not happy with the suggested frosting, so we ended up with a more traditional ganache, from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. That recipe is below, edited to reflect the way K made it. A more detailed recipe is in the book, which K says "is one of her favorite cake books."

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream, warm
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla 

In a microwave-safe container, melt chocolate chips, stirring occasionally. 
Once the chocolate is fully melted, gradually stir in the cream until it is uniform in color. Allow to cool, until no longer warm to the touch. Whisk in the softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Use at once or allow to sit for a few hours. The ganache will continue to thicken at room temperature.


  1. I am so in the mood for a chocolate cake, think I'll have to make one for my birthday! Great job to K!

  2. Heather: She is happy to take orders. Plus, I'm happy to have baked goods leave my house. We need more people to deliver to!