Those of you who have been following this blog from its beginning (which was very very recently, after all!) must know by now about my obsession with Nigella Lawson recipes. Here’s why I like them: they work (most of the time); and they’re fun to read about, before actually cooking them. After all, cooking is as much about imagining & thinking & planning, as it is about actually getting round to doing it.
This is one of Nigella’s cakes that I’ve been meaning to try for ages, but never dared! It always seemed far too indulgent & sugar-loaded to me… and it is! The perfect opportunity presented itself during a weekend with two friends where we did loads of indulgent things: loads of cooking (& eating!), long chats until the early hours of the morning, and watching sex & the city at the cinema. At some point we decided we wanted to make the most chocolatey of chocolate cakes that we could find… & we chose this. It lived up to its promise.
For the cake:
- 400g plain flour
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 50g best quality cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 142ml/small tub sour cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 125ml corn oil
- 300ml chilled water
For the fudge icing:
- 175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 275g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
- Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
- In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended.
- Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. (We did this by hand, a mixer- handheld or freestanding- is not really needed).
- Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed.
- Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.
- Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
- To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2-3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
- In another bowl, beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy (we used a hand held mixer for this) and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything’s light and fluffy.
- As Nigella says: ‘I know sieving is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy’ (so make sure you do sieve the icing sugar!).
- Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.
- Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.
…And then you eat this. Preferably with no distractions like starter or main course. Just go straight to the dessert. Is lovely with vanilla ice-cream or unsweetened whipped cream.