Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate (Cup)cakes



This is my go-to chocolate cake ... most of the time. I have my favourites when it comes to chocolate cakes, yet oftentimes, whenever I need a fix, I find myself turning to this one. On all counts, this is a good cake. It may not have the complex flavours of this, but it is nonetheless a good cake.

What does it for me is that you only need to throw everything together, blitz, and you're ready to bake! How fast and easy is that? No need to chop chocolate, or melt butter, or fold batter. It is truly one of those fail-proof cakes that anyone can churn out - indeed, even a child can - and if you are a newbie baker, this is certainly a recipe you should attempt. #ConfidenceBooster

I baked this cake twice in as many weeks - surely an indication of how stressed I must be? But sink my teeth into these babies, and the world is at peace again. Isn't chocolate wonderful? It has the ability to calm a woman down and make her so much less dangerous.



Point to note though - you really have to run out and get a tub of sour cream for this. Trust me, it makes all the difference. I have tried using yogurt and crème fraîche, but they don't nail it like sour cream does. So please. If you want to substitute the magic ingredient, do it at your own risk.



Now, in my honest opinion, this cake doesn't need icing BUT an iced cake always does look so much more appealing, doesn't it? :) While I am quite happy to eat a plain cake, the rest at home want their icing, so majority wins. *shrugs*



And if you want to make a cupcake version, you should start checking at the 12-minute mark (especially if you need to rotate the muffins tins). Mine were done in about 18 minutes (rotated at the 13-minute mark), but since every oven works differently, keep a close watch, won't you?

As long as a skewer comes out almost* clean, you're good. In fact, when it comes to chocolate cakes, I prefer to err on slightly undercooked than slightly overcooked. No one likes a dry cake that crumbles at first bite. But a cake with a moist centre? Still good!
* By that, I mean there could be a few crumbs clinging onto your skewer ... but overall, the skewer is still clean.



I sprinkled some chopped chocolate on top, but you can get creative - fresh fruit (cherries and strawberries come to mind), chopped nuts, sea salt flakes or like Nigella herself did - pretty sugar pansies.

Have fun!

Recipe
(100% from Nigella Lawson)

Makes about 8 slices (or about 12 cupcakes).

For the cake
- 200g plain flour
- 200g caster sugar (I cut down to 180g)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 40g best quality cocoa (I used Valrhona for best results)
- 175g soft unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs (or 3 medium eggs like I did)
- 2 tsp real vanilla extract
- 150ml sour cream

For the icing
- 75g unsalted butter
- 175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used Valrhona Caraïbe 66%)
- 300g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup (this gives the lovely sheen to the icing, but it is optional, in my opinion)
- 125ml sour cream
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
- Sugar flowers, optional

Video here.

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

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

5. 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.

6. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don't want any burning or seizing.

7. While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz. This is by far and away the least tedious way of removing lumps.

8. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.

9. When you've done, you may need to add a little boiling water - say a teaspoon or so - or indeed some more icing sugar: it depends on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker; or indeed it may be right as it is. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.

9. Choose your cake stand or plate and cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it (this stops the icing running on to the plate). Then sit one of the cakes, uppermost (ie slightly domed) side down.

10. Spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the two together.

11. Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing and leave a few minutes till set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.

12. 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.


32 comments:

  1. Hi

    Your cakes looks very moist. I would love to try it out,but i cannot eat eggs, is there a substitute to the eggs?

    Your advice will be much appreciated.

    thanks
    Lata

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  2. Your cupcakes look lovely. How do you get such a smooth top because mine either cracks or has bumps.

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  3. wow, beautiful chocolate cakes!! yum!

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  4. They are darling little things.. under glass or not:)Dressed or undressed.
    But then again..you made them:)

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  5. Gosh they look delicious! So want to reach into the screen to get me one. Haha

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  6. I tried this recipe today with my 3 year old daughter. Unfortunately, had to go the long route bec I lent my food processor to my mom. Still, it wasn't too difficult and the cupcakes tasted great! My girl had 3 of them! However, the top of the cupcake was domed and cracked, not nice and flat like yours. I was wondering if you have any tips for me in this regard? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps reduce the temperature by 10°C for the latter half of baking. :)

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  7. Dear Chef Ju, I searched high and low for the sour cream but without valid. Can u advise where to obtain them? BTW, your cake looks beautiful esp. no cracks. envy envy envy!! from Pineapple tarts

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    Replies
    1. Hi, where did you search? I would suggest Cold Storage or Fairprice - the bigger outlets. Or Carrefour. I personally got mine from Cold Storage ... they are stocked at the yogurt/butter sections. HTH.

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  8. Hi Ju,

    Love the look of those cakes. Just a quick question, what oven are you using? On the lookout for a new oven and would love to have some recommendations if possible. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jasmine, I use the Tefal 21L (vapeur-steam) oven. Very small, very uneven heating, and I hate it. It's been 7 years and I am waiting for it to die a natural death, but it's still going strong. :(

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  9. Your cupcakes look lovely. I don't have a food processor, do you think I can use the blender for this recipe?

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    Replies
    1. How about using a mixer? I used my handheld mixer for this. :)

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  10. Hi, just wondering can I substitute sour cream with yogurt?
    Thanks

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  11. the cocoa is cocoa powder or chopped chocolate? Thanks

    Pomnoistte

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  12. hi Ju,

    May I know where you bought the lovely cake holder? I am trying to find one reasonably priced one but can't...

    thanks,
    Sapp

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    Replies
    1. Sapp: At Giant supermarket, of all places! Lol! I dunno if they still have them though, cos it was one of those special festive sales.

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  13. hi there Ju,

    I've a couple of questions about obtaining chocolate!
    Where do you get Varlhona chocolate from and which types do you normally use (60% dark; bars, buttons etc)?
    And do you know where to get unsweetened chocolate from? I can't seem to find it in supermarkets! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I buy my Valrhona chocolate from Sun Lik (at Seah Street). You can't get them at regular supermarkets. I usually buy either the whole 1kg block or feves. I like 55% and 66%. Unsweetened chocolate (or are you referring to cocoa)? I think your best bet would be at bake stores, like Sun Lik or Phoon Huat. HTH! :)

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  14. Hi Ju,

    Do you tink this cake can be use as a base for fondant cake? Looking for a good chocolate cake as a base. :)

    Many Thanks!

    Anne

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  15. the chocolate can be in any form? such as bar or powder? is hershey's cocoa powder good enough? Hope to get your reply soon. hoping to make some tomorrow for a birthday. Do you any other chocolate cupcakes recipes?

    Thanks a lot =)

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    Replies
    1. Hi, I don't really understand your question. You are referring to the cake or to the icing? For the cake, you only use cocoa powder, and yes Hershey's is fine. For the icing, you need actual chocolate. HTH!

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  16. Thanks Ju for the reply. :) Another qns - if I do not have a food processor, i be using my handheld mixer... do i use the first option (i.e combine all ingredients) or do I go via the long way?

    Many Thanks!
    Anne

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    Replies
    1. I used a handheld mixer too. I did it the long way. ;) Less flour/cocoa powder flying everywhere. Ha!

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  17. Hi ju what if cupcakes crack, what is the problem? :(

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  18. these choc cakes are so good. everyone was raving about them. No leftovers at all. Yums...
    thanks for sharing.

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  19. Can u give specific brand of sour cream? I really2 want to find it. My cupcake a bit dry. Before this i'am not using sour cream. Hopefully u can reply my question. :)

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  20. Hi Ju,
    ur cake looks very temting , want to ask wht size of pan to use to make this cake , and can i use curd instead of sour cream n hw much to use ??
    preeti

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  21. Thank you for posting this fantastic recipe – I tried twice for my family and my daughter’s birthday and they were a big success (the only change I made was instead of chocolate I have used caramel frosting)

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    Replies
    1. Caramel frosting!!! You've just gotten me all excited!

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