Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

The third and final cake in the birthday baking bonanza and one of the Dine at Mine household's all time favourites - Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. This is Mr Wine at Mine's favourite cake, his choice for his own birthday (and in this case, his choice for his dad's birthday). Nigella herself describes it as "essence of chocolate cake", in the best possible sense. You see where I'm going with this. It is good cake.
INow I say that it's good cake but, let's be honest anyone can make a chocolate sponge (with or without wine). In all honesty, it's the icing that really makes this cake. This icing is rich, thick, chocolatey heaven, so good that we used it for my sister's home made wedding cake, the year before ours. Containing prodigious quantities of pure dark chocolate, a hell of a lot of sugar and some golden syrup and vanilla for good measure, it's definitely rich. But I promise it's worth it.

In practical terms the icing goes on like a dream, gooey and glossy. But, cleverly, because the chocolate hardens as it cools, it's surprisingly practical to transport and serve. If the eaters around our table were anything to go by, you may find yourself eating the sponge first and leaving a shell of icing on your plate for that perfect final bite. I repeat, there's nothing wrong with the sponge! The icing is just that good.

For years, I've made this cake the boring way by creaming butter and sugar, adding ingredients one by one, yawn yawn. This time, still revelling in the unaccustomed luxury of a food processor, I was able to follow her recommendations and just chuck it all in the food processor at once. Once again, it blew my mind. I was done and dusted in about three minutes. I won't divulge how much time I spent licking the bowl, but I think it's safe to say that it was longer than it took to make the cake.

As all my baking paraphernalia is in storage, I didn't have anything attractive to decorate the top so it was left somewhat austere. But luckily the restaurant provided a hefty number of candles and anticipation did the rest.

Cake mission - complete. Birthdays - celebrated. Food processor - revelatory. Sugar rush - overwhelming. Waistbands - expanded. Diet - necessary.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
By Nigella Lawson
For the cake
- 200g plain flour
- 200g caster sugar (golden, vanilla, whatever you fancy)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 40g cocoa
- 175g soft butter
- 2 eggs (large)
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 150ml sour cream
For the icing
- 75g unsalted butter
- 175g of good dark chocolate (ie: at least 70% cocoa), broken or chopped into small bits
- 300g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of golden syrup
- 125ml sour cream (or realistically, just use up a 300ml pot without scraping it out too assiduously)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two 8 or 9inch tins with parchment (I normally use 8inch, this time only had 9inch).
For the cake, just put all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it's smooth and well combined. Pour into the two tins, levelling the surface as much as possible. Then bake for around 25-35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean, the cakes are well risen and shrinking from the sides. Cool in their tins for 5-10 minutes, then de-tin and leave them to cool properly on a wire rack.
For the icing, start by melting the chocolate and butter together in a small bowl in the microwave (do it for 10-15 seconds at a time, stirring between goes) or over a pan of bubbling water. Leave them to cool a bit, and whiz the icing sugar in the food processor to get rid of lumps.
Add the vanilla, sour cream and golden syrup to the mostly-cooled chocolate gloop, then pour the whole lot down the funnel of the food processor while the icing sugar is whirling around inside. Whizz until it's all smooth, glossy and tastes amazing. If it looks too runny, add more icing sugar (or a bit of boiling water if it's too thick) but I've never actually needed to do either.
To stack the cake, just turn one cake upside down onto your serving plate or bit of foil, if you're planning to move it, and smear a third of the icing on top. Cover with the other cake then put half of the remaining icing over the top of the cake, half around the sides. Try to make it look half way decent but remember that it'll taste amazing so it doesn't really matter.
Eat a big slice, go back for seconds, feel a bit sick and swear off cake for a while.

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