The World Cup is over. The tourists will leave. The Cup will stay. We will have to find something else to talk about.

I feel the Rugby World Cup has opened an entirely new door to rugby appreciation for me. (Beyond the players’ physiques…) For the opening weekend, quarter finals, semi finals and finals weekends I have been working at Eden Park in Auckland. The atmosphere has been quite electric and everyone is so passionate. We have been able to watch snippets of the games while polishing glasses and making coffee. It does get a bit exciting. Although, we do worry about the effect of the game on our guests. Are they too nervous to eat? Will they leave in disgust and embarrassment as soon as the final whistle has blown? Will they drink to their success or to their sorrow?

Before the semi finals game between the All Blacks and the Wallabies we were busy folding napkins discussing the various merits of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

We decided Richie was the one. He seems equally comfortable in both city and country. He is dashing in a suit but undoubtedly ruggedly handsome in a Swandri and gumboots. He can drink a beer with the boys or a cup of tea with your Nana. A bit of a lumberjack but he could probably whip up a sponge cake should he so desire. Gracious in defeat and in victory. And, that jaw line! Our male colleagues were not particularly impressed by this discussion.

This chocolate spiral is from Lois Daish’s fantastic book A Good Year. According to Daish, chocolate spiral is the sort of thing to make in October. Personally, I feel anytime of year would be ideal chocolate spiral eating time.

As I made this spiral cake, re-reading the recipe a thousand times (one can not serve Richie a messy chocolate spiral), I thought this recipe could not possibly work. I poured the chocolate mixture on to the baking tray. It seemed far too runny; it was surely going to bubble off the edges. I was expecting a burnt and blackened mess in the bottom of my stove. I pulled up a chair and took stove-side vigil.

But, instead it came out rather nicely with a light spring to the touch and a smooth finish. I filled the roll with sweet vanilla cream, chocolate may have been nice, but with the black and white it seemed rather fitting at the moment. Like a delicate fern frond, twirled in black and white. Or an All Black shirt, tightly wrapped and white collared.

Signing off like a lovesick teenager, Richie, this is for you.

Chocolate Sponge Spiral
From Lois Daish, A Good Year

3 eggs
75grams icing sugar, plus 2 teaspoons extra
15grams cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch salt
pinch cream of tartar
10grams cornflour
25grams plain flour

Preheat oven to 210°C. Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray.

Separate the eggs – yolks into a large bowl, whites into a slightly smaller bowl.

To the yolks add the 75grams icing sugar, cocoa, vanilla essence and salt.

To the whites add the cream of tartar. Beat the whites until just foamy then add the 2tsp icing sugar. Continue to beat until firm and droopy peaks form. (Not hard peaks, you don’t want the mixture to be too dry.)

Without washing the beaters, beat the egg yolk mixture until well combined. Detach the beaters and leave one beater in the bowl.

Mix the cornflour and flour together. Sieve half the mixture into the chocolate egg yolk mix, then add a heaped scoop of the egg whites. Fold gently but thoroughly together with the detached beater.

Sift the remaining flour and cornflour and add the remaining egg whites. Fold together with the detached beater. Lastly, use a plastic spatula to sweep the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and use the spatula to spread into a rectangle about 30cm x 15cm and 1cm thick.

Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the cake feels bouncy when gently pressed. Do not overcook or the cake will break when it is rolled.

When the cake is removed from the oven spread a clean tea towel on the bench. Lift the cake and the banking paper and place baking paper side up on the tea towel. Peel off the baking paper. If the paper sticks to the cake brush lightly with warm water and leave to sit for a few minutes.

While the cake is still warm, roll it up loosely and leave to cool on the tea towel on a cake rack. Once completely cooled, unroll and spread a sweetened cream filling. Roll up more tightly.

Sprinkle with icing sugar. This spiral cake is ideal for afternoon tea or dessert.

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