Old fashioned chocolate cake

Another birthday, another cake. Usually I’m thrilled about birthdays solely because of this fact. The fact that there will be cake. To be made and to be eaten. I often volunteer to bake, since it’s a nice opportunity to try out new recipes. And this birthday was no different. My little sister turned 24, and I volunteered to bake, knowing that she’d request a classic simple chocolate cake. Unlike me, she’s not much of a cake person, exept for chocolate cake. I baked, we ate, the cake was tasty. She was happy, I was happy. But now, I quite frankly feel I’ve had my share of cake for a while. Like, a few days. No, seriously. July has been nothing but a baking cake-eating birthday marathon. It started on the very first day of the month, with my birthday. Then my niese, then a collague, then a friend, then my boyfriend’s aunt, my sister, and to top it off, I’m having a late celebration with a friend this weekend too! And that probably doesn’t sound all that bad, but in my family, we don’t like to be short on cake, whichs means there’s always leftovers. Meaning after every birthday there’s been a few days binging on leftovers. So, you’re getting the picture… But I’m guessing after a few days I’m ready for some more. This is probably the “I-shouldn’t-have-eaten-that-last-piece-right-before-bed-just-to-make-room-in-the-fridge” part of me speaking. Cause the cake was good, already!

The cake and the recipe comes from my eternal flame….eh, source of inspiration; Nigella Lawson.
From her book Feast. It has an entire chapter of chocolate cakes, and embarresingly enough, I haven’t made any of them until now. I did try one, but failed. So bad. Soo bad. But it was time to move on!
And as she suggests in her book, I started with this one. (Maybe that’s where it went wrong, I started with another one…) I was very in doubt whether to make this or not, cause I’ve heard so many different opinions. And most of them were either loving it or hating it. I decided to make it after reading a review from someone loving it, saying that some people just can’t bake. And I think I can bake. So I challenged myself. The ultimate proof. Luckily it came out well. Phew! That beeing said, I have the best choclate sheet cake recipe, and ever since that came into my life, everything is compared to that. And nothing beats it. It’s so unbelievable moist. I have to get back to that in another post. So this was one of the first times I baked another chocolate cake than that for a very long time, and I feared dryness. But it wasn’t dry. It was quite tall (maybe not after US standards) so if it wasn’t for the icing in the middle it could have been. So don’t skip that part folks! The extra icing is essential.

Old fashioned chocolate cake
(recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast)

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

75g unsalted butter
175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
sugar flowers, optional
Serving Size : Makes about 8 slices

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
4. 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.
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. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.


Cheesecake ice cream

What a glorious idea, incorporating two of the best flavours in the world, into one fantastic dessert. Cheesecake Ice Cream.

I love cheesecake. I certainly love ice cream. And I can most definitely add cheesecake ice cream to that list.

Not surprisingly, I mean how could that ever fail? And why didn’t I try this sooner? It was so delicious, I’m already making a second batch! This is going to be a summer 2010 favourite. I can feel it.

Like the big Nigella Lawson fan that I am (and summer lover), her book Forever Summer is among my favourite cookbooks. Because of the recipes, naturally, Nigellas lovely descriptions, the photos and that it captures a feeling of summer. Whatever season it is outside. But now it is summer, and it’s time to make use of my favourite kitchen tool: My beloved ice cream maker.
In forever summer there are a number of ice cream recipes. I’ve tried several of them (Baci is higly recommended), but somehow I’ve missed out on this one until now. I’ve been thinking of making it ever since I got the book. It was one of the recipes that really stood out. You know, the ones you note to yourself. Well, so much for that note! Years have passed and no cheesecake ice cream was made. I blame myself. But all good things come to those who wait! And it was worth the wait. Luscious satiny smooth ice cream. The feel of an ice cream, but the flavour of a cheesecake. Velvety and sligthly lemony. Topped with crumbled digestive cookies. So good. Soooo goooood. If’re you’re like me – and like your cheesecake and ice cream – make this. Make it now.


175ml full-fat milk
200g caster sugar
125g Philadelphia cream cheese
half teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
juice of half a lemon
350ml double cream
50g digestive biscuits, crumbled (optional)

Heat the milk in a pan, and while it’s getting warm, beat together the sugar, Philadelphia, vanilla and egg in a bowl. Still whisking, pour the hot milk into the cream cheese mixture and pour this back into the cleaned-out pan and cook till a velvety custard. Stir constantly, and if you think there’s any trouble ahead, plunge the pan into a sink half filled with cold water and whisk like mad. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, this way, for the custard to cook. And when it has thickened, take it off the heat, pour into a bowl and let it cool, at which time add the lemon juice and then the double cream, lightly whipped.

Freeze in an ice cream maker or place into a covered container, stick it in the freezer and whip it out every hour for 3 hours as it freezes and give it a good beating, folding in the crushed digestives – if using – before the ice cream is set solid.

Like the recipe says, you can fold crushed digestives into the ice cream, making a crispy buiscuit swirl. Or you can serve th ice cream sandwiched between two buiscuits, crumble them on top or serve them on the side. Or I guess you can leave them out totally, but I wouldn’t. Digestives and cheesecake belong together. You can’t have a proper cheesecake without, and therefore no cheesecake ice cream either. You need those buiscuits for the ultimate cheesecake-ice cream experience. Have I made myself clear? Good.
Off you go! Make some ice cream!