Monday, November 16, 2009

Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

School's almost out and I have been taking it real easy. My kids and I go out a lot more these days, and naturally, we end up eating out too. As such, I haven't been cooking much, but I managed to sneak a cake in this week.

I have been wanting to make this cake for way too long. But I kept putting it off because I didn't have sour cream - the supposed magic ingredient touted by Nigella. So it stayed on my to-do list ... and would have continued staying there if not for Z of ovenhaven. She baked this cake and her photos immediately jolted me into finally baking it.

Ironically, I didn't use sour cream eventually! I had half a packet of creme fraiche, and I thought I could sub, since both were sour and creamy ;) Haha! I also didn't use the frosting recipe, because it called for golden syrup and I was not about to go out and buy a bottle just for that. Instead, I opted for a creamy chocolate frosting (a light, chocolate malt-coloured cream as opposed to a dark, glistening ganache).

It turned out to be a fabulous cake! My family loved it (aside, if you have been reading my blog, you can tell by now that we love our chocolate). I made this cake under a lot of stress though. The kids were giving me grief by rushing me. I did everything at breakneck speed, honest. This must have been one of the quickest cakes I have ever assembled, if not the quickest! I couldn't even make 2 layers as originally intended.

Now, the only way to frost using such a viscous buttercream (in a hurry, I might add) is to make swirls. I couldn't think of any other way. Plonk all the buttercream on top and then spread them out. Make small swirls ala Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night.

Then there was the mad rush of taking photos. My elder son was so impatient, he followed me and watched as I made good my promise to take "just a few shots". Indeed, after 10 shots (which I randomly took from all angles), I sliced the cake, and they finally left me alone ... for a short while. Why? They came back for seconds! In the end, I gave up. So, here they are. Thank goodness the photos turned out decent enough to post. But you know what? Even if they didn't, I would have still posted them, warts and all ... because this cake is just too good :)

Recipe for Cake
(adapted from my ultimate Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson - here)

- 200g plain flour
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 40g best-quality cocoa
- 175g soft unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 150ml sour cream (which I subbed with creme fraiche)
* Note that I halved everything to make a cake just right for my family size. The other reason being, my oven is just too small to accommodate 2 cake tins. Yes, THAT small. Sad.

1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.

3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture.

4. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

5. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25.

6. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.

7. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.

Additional Info from Nigella:
- I tend to keep my kitchen stocked with very good dark chocolate buttons (70 per cent cocoa solids) as this entirely dispenses with any need to chop chocolate before melting it. Do not dream of using normal confectionary ones (except just to eat, of course).

- I love to dot the top of this with sugar pansies – and you must admit, they do look enchanting – but there really is no need to make a shopping expedition out of it. Anything, or indeed nothing, will do.

- If you want to use Nigella's icing recipe, you can find it

Recipe for Creamy Chocolate Frosting

(from Allrecipes - here)
- 170 g confectioners' sugar
- 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 45 g butter
- 40 ml evaporated milk
- 3 ml vanilla extract
* Note that this recipe is enough for 6 servings. If you want to bake a bigger cake, you can input your desired serving size at Allrecipes (click on the link) and the corresponding measurements will be re-calculated.

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.


  1. A very rich chocolatey chocolate cake!

  2. wow..though I don't often eat chocolate cake..your bake is very tempting...kept telling me "eat me eat me"...

    Which brand of cocao powder you use?

    Btw..your rose plate is veri nice...veri England...where you bot it?

    Good bake always from you!

  3. Absolutely heavenly! I can imagine you sneak in a large piece from the fridge at night Nigella style!

  4. Angie and Ellie: Thank you, my dearies :)

    Irene: So kind of you :) I use Hershey's. And as for the plate, it was a gift ;) Yes, I agree - very English, that's why I love using it for my cakes!

  5. I totally get the speed of lightning under pressure for the photos:)!

    And rush hour..

    Ju are the children finished school for the year? or for a holiday?
    You are always one CUT above the rest:)

  6. They are done for the year, Monique!! I am so happy! :)

  7. Well, you did a great job for being in a rush! This cake looks awesome!

  8. Such a luscious chocolate cake. I bookmarking this to try it out soon.

  9. You frost better in a hurry than I do taking my time! Honestly, I can't cook or concentrate with people buzzing around me, so bravo to you for keeping your focus and making a great cake!

  10. are the cake queen!The neatest cake slicer on the planet!

    Enjoy your holidays with the kids...I love the slower pace and freedom that summer brings!
    Is this summer for you?

  11. Deliziosa, saporita ed invitante la tua torta complimenti.
    Buona settimana Daniela.

  12. It's absolutly wonderfull, all this chocolate !
    Si je pouvais juste goûter avec un doigt !
    Une vraie merveille
    I have a price for you on my blog
    See you soon

  13. decadent, and so moist looking... I am gaining weight as I sit here

    Looks amazing!

  14. i'm a sucker for all chocolate cakes! hahaha!
    i love what you did with the frosting, love the swirls!

  15. Gorgeous! One day I'll make a beauty of a cake like this, and eat it too!

  16. That cake photo makes me want to make it too. I saw this oven haven as well and was so tempted but ..sigh ..too much cake n cream recently..

    oh yes I get the stress by the kids all right..even tho mine are all grown they still rush me ..can u believe that? I guess if u want to eat it you want to eat it.. NOW matter how old you are.

  17. Wow it looks gorgeous! THe frosting..yum...and the cake looks so moist!

  18. You're such a talented baker and skillful photography even under pressure. What else can I say? I really salute you!

  19. You have got some chocolate cake baking skillz!!!

    Great job!

    God bless-

  20. I love your description of making swirls like Van Gogh's Starry Night!

  21. Ju, can you please teach me cut things when we meet? I really wanna pursue the cutting skills from you.

  22. Hello ~ what a nice name you have "Little Teochew", in future I would like to call you "Ah Nya" and will come here often and follow you..
    BTW this chocolate cake looks so perfect :D

  23. That looks beautiful! I have the same book but I haven't tried the recipe as I was a bit put off that she used cocoa powder instead of real chocolate. Your pictures make me want to try it though!

  24. Ju, now this is what I really call an old fashion chocolate cake. Nothing fancy, just plain goodness. Love the rough swirls ...

  25. Des photos magnifiques. Un gâteau qui semble excellent. Bravo!!

  26. Hello Ju,

    What a decadent, rich & ooh so chocolately fab cake!! I also would be impatient!!


  27. I love chocolate too! The cake looks so delicious ...I can almost taste it! : )

  28. i baked this cake but it was no good :( Dry and too crumbly

  29. This looks so moist...chocolate cake is wonderful and this one looks over the top!

  30. You're the master, Ju! I'm sure Nigella would approve...I can almost hear her gushing now.

    And chocolate swirls are always a winner!


  31. Ah I love old-fashioned cakes :) especially if these are chocolate cakes :) thank you for posting! the pictures are very SWEET!