San Francisco bakery Vive La Tarte’s Chocolate Cake – San Francisco Chronicle

Restaurant News

The coronavirus has brought out the inner baker in a lot of us, with weekends devoted to nursing sourdough and layering desserts far more complicated than we might normally attempt at home.

If all the time indoors has given you a brand-new baking itch that you’re still not quite sure what to do with, give this chocolate cake a try. It’s decidedly unfussy, with a simple single layer and no extra flourishes — apart from some berries and powdered sugar, which are nice if you have them but no big deal if you don’t.

The other great thing about this cake during the pandemic is its ingredient list: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, flour. You might have everything in your pantry right now.

The recipe comes from Arnaud Goethals and Julie Vandermeersch’s Vive La Tarte, a charming bakery with locations in San Francisco’s SoMa, Noe Valley and the Ferry Building (the one in Noe Valley is currently the only one open for pickup on weekends, if you order ahead). Vive La Tarte might be best known for its inventive croissants, which come filled with coconut cream, perfumed with orange blossom and za’atar, and folded over eggs and avocado like a breakfast taco.

But this simple Belgian chocolate cake is a consistent sight in the pastry case for good reason. It’s deep and rich, with a great sweet-salty balance.

Janelle Bitker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @janellebitker

Vive La Tarte’s Chocolate Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake; serves 8

One reason this is a great cake to try during the coronavirus is its short and forgiving ingredient list. Only have dark chocolate? No problem — the result will be extra intense and delicious. You can swap all-purpose flour for the pastry flour, too. The crumb won’t be quite as tender, but you probably won’t notice the difference. The cake will keep wrapped at room temperature for four days.

cups (9 ounces) chopped dark chocolate, ideally 64% to 68% cacao

½ cup (3 ounces) milk chocolate

3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

6 large eggs

cups pastry flour

Flaky sea salt to taste

Seasonal berries

Powdered sugar

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment and spray with nonstick pan spray. Set aside.

Place the dark and milk chocolates and butter in a medium heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water) and stir constantly until chocolate and butter are melted and combined.

Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the sugar and mix on high speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Slowly add the eggs one at a time and mix until homogeneous and the mixture has a smooth and shiny texture, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and continue mixing until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Be sure not to overmix.

Transfer half of the batter into your cake pan and sprinkle with the salt. Top with the remaining batter. Bake until some cracks appear at the edges of the cake and the middle is slightly jiggly, but not undercooked, about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating half way during baking.

Transfer the cake to a cooling rack; when cool, run a knife around the edges and flip to remove the cake. Serve with fresh seasonal berries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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