I was raised in the fifties, between France and Tunisia, where my parents had a wheat farm 25 miles west of Tunis. In this bucolic setting, I learned that some of the best things in life are simple and pure.
Our bread was baked at the farm in a wood fired oven. The flour, ground by the worker’s wives, came from the wheat stored in giant concrete bins, holding the year’s crop.
It was milled with a rudimentary mill, composed of two 10-inch diameter, gray grinding stones. The bottom one, fixed, had a vertical metal shaft in the middle. The top one had an oversized center hole to accommodate the shaft, and to allow the grains to be fed between the grinding stones.
The women, in large, flowing, local dresses and traditional silver jewelry, would sit down against a wall with their legs spread open and the mill in between them. On each side of the women sits a bag of wheat, within hand’s reach.
With a small wooden handle, attached by a string to the top stone, the women would turn the top stone vigorously with one hand, while slowly feeding the grain in with the second. A fine flour would flow onto her dress as the stone turned.
I vividly recall her smile, a mixture of pride, joy and anticipation of delicious bread. Her smile was always accompanied with the sweet, nutty smell of the freshly ground flour.
The bread was flat, like the size of pita but only thicker. Firing the conical oven with lots of kindling, it looked like a volcanic eruption. When it was consumed and had reached the proper temperature, she would wet one side of the bread by sprinkling water with her fingers. I’ll never forget the way she wetted the bread with a quick flip of the wrist and forceful slap to the bread
When baked, the bread would fall by itself in the hot ashes at the bottom of the oven, and any left over amber would make a little burn mark on the crust, adding extra taste.
Knowing how much I loved this bread, our cook’s wife would often bring me a piece, still warm, which I would dip in olive oil from our orchard. It was a simple delight. To this day, I relish its taste and memories.
So what does this have to do with chocolate cake?
The same universal principles apply to making an amazing cake. Take the finest, and purest ingredients (organic butter, eggs and sugar along with organic chocolate), and then use knowledge, and skill, to combine them, so that each one compliments the other. Also, apply the principle of never using short cuts or any unpronounceable ingredient.
In the case of the bread, this method is perfectly adapted to the geographic location, and the available fuel and resources. The method has been refined, and tested over centuries, which has resulted in a perfect harmony of taste and texture. GateauOChocolat also aims to be a symphony of pure, simple ingredients and skillful execution.
Try it, and please let us know what you think.