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  • andybrom

The history of the piano and sipping coffee

The people in one of my series groups are serious coffee lovers. As I prepare my plunger coffee for them they often discuss which brands, strengths, and machines they feel makes that ultimate coffee. For a total non- coffee drinker (I think the stuff tastes like bitter poison! – should probably have chosen a different name for my business!!) I listen in wonder at their dedication to their coffee tastes. So for their class today I thought I’d make a mocha cake! This yummy moist one pan cake is one of the wonderful Belinda Jeffery’s recipes. I have to admit that many of MY cakes are from her cake book ‘mix and bake’. I’ve stuck to the recipes, varied them, and at times completely annihilated them but they always work and are always a great success.

The less confident Andy wondered if their need for coffee before the class and their love of this coffee fuelled cake might have been a way for them to keep awake (the class is at 11am!) but the stimulating questions, and eager discuss which ensued after the class put my mind at ease!

This class is on the history of the piano. Prior to its invention by Bartolomeo Christofori in 1700 the western world had 2 major types of keyboards. Harpsichords which were loud with a precise mechanism but had no warmth or dynamic range – in fact it was impossible to have dynamics because the strings were mechanically plucked; and Clavichords where the strings were hit by hammers, which had a beautiful sweet sound, dynamics but could barely be heard above a whisper! This Italian man, with the financial support of Ferdinando Medici, combined both these instruments to make a brand new instrument – the PIANO.

The piano revolutionised music. People who would never have had the opportunity to hear music live were able to purchase piano reduction to play at home, operas could be performed without a full orchestra with the piano filling in the parts and before the TV the piano was the entertainment system for the family with the obligatory sing-along. The piano can be used as a solo instrument, to accompany voice (classical, jazz, pop or rock) and orchestral instruments, and is a vital member for so much beautiful chamber music. You would be very hard pressed to go anywhere in the world and not find a piano somewhere close by.

With this fascinating topic I should never have doubted this class and their desire for coffee..not a way to keep awake but an addiction to the bean!

Enjoy your coffee


By the way if you want an alternate history of the piano check out this Victor Borge youtube…very funny!!

One –pan mocha cake

  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa

  • 75g unsalted butter

  • 1/3 cup light olive oil (I used full strength)

  • 2/3 strong black coffee

  • 90g good quality dark chocolate

  • 250g castor sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1¼ plain flour (I used SF flour)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/3 cups buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 150 C. Butter a 2 -24 round cake time. Line base with baking paper

  2. Put cocoa, butter, oil and coffee into a largish saucepan. Bring them to boil over medium heat, stir frequently until mixture is silky. Take off heat. Add chocolate and sugar and whisk until the choc has melted and mixture is smooth

  3. Cool. Add egg, vanilla and whisk thoroughly. Sift flour and baking powder (or SR flour) into mixture and stir until just combined. Whisk in buttermilk.

  4. Pour the batter into tin and shake gently to level out mixture. Bake for about 50 min or until skewer comes out of the cake clean when inserted into t he middle of the cake.

  5. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then invert cake onto rack and cool completely

I made ganache as an icing for this cake – in case it wasn’t chocolaty enough! Love me


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