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Representing Freedom: Chocolate Cake #FoodieReads

Okay, let's start with this: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi* isn't a foodie book. But I knew that going into it. However, it is the impetus for me to delve into a Persian cookbook, The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan. You'll see an entire meal from that soon.

On the Page
I picked up this book because I saw it on the reading list for D's 8th grade literature class. With a line-up that includes Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; Animal Farm; and To Kill a Mockingbird, Perspolis was the only book I hadn't read. I was intrigued by its place on the list. 

Let me say: I understand why it's on the list. Mr. M seems to have selected books about social injustice, discrimination, and rebellion. Persepolis is the story of Marjane's childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

While I think it's an important topic and will lead to some, hopefully, productive discussions in the literature class, I didn't care for the book. I felt that reading the story in graphic novel format was a little like reading bullet points. The narrative is necessarily restricted to one sentence per panel or frame. I wanted more - more description, more depth of character, just more.

And, in wanting more, I will probably read Persepolis 2. I'm looking forward to hearing what D gets out of it. R asked to read it next. So, it's certainly starting discussions around our dining room table. That's never a bad thing.

"I wanted to be justice, love and the wrath of God all in one," she wrote.

On the Plate
Inspired by Marjane's dad exhorting her to get a sachertorte as soon as she gets to Austria, I adapted a chocolate cake recipe that I've made many times before. For no particular reason, I added Earl Grey tea and lavender. Yum. To me, the chocolate cake represents her freedom. Her dad urges her get a sachertorte as soon as she gets to Vienna. He tells her, "'s the most delicious chocolate cake." I looked up a few recipes for sachertorte, but decided to make one of my favorite chocolate cakes instead. I'll attempt the sacher one of these days.


  • 2 C chipped unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 C organic buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 C organic brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 C organic sour cream
  • 2 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 6 earl grey tea bags, opened
  • 1/2 t lavender blossoms
  • Also needed chocolate ganache, lavender blossoms for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two round baking stones.

Place chocolate, butter, and buttermilk in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in loose earl grey tea, lavender, and pure vanilla extract.

Beat in the egg yolks and yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the chocolate mixture.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, folding in until just moistened.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter.

Scrape the batter into prepared pans and bake for 45-55 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

When completely cool, fill the layer and spread the top and sides of cake with your favorite ganache; I used a lavender ganache.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in September 2017: here.


  1. Dinner table conversation IS a good thing. Worth reading just for that.

  2. There is a cartoon version of this book too. I don't know if it added more information or not.


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