I have a rather cheesy golden rule when it comes to baking:
‘never make a cake out of obligation but always with love and generosity in your heart’
There are many times when cooking is a chore but baking sweet treats should never be.
But I also believe that making a cake can provide you with a great feeling of contentment and happiness. So when I was feeling a bit down last week (possibly due to empty nest syndrome now my children are at school) I baked this ‘old fashioned chocolate cake’ from Nigella’s fabulous ‘Feast’.
It cheered me up no end. And I promise this wasn’t due to the prospect of eating it all myself, but the anticipation of the pleasure it would give to others (in this case my husband and children).
This cake has a couple more ingredients than my standard everyday chocolate cake (Delia all-in-one sponge with a bit of cocoa in) but it is similarly easy to make and it has a gooey depth that takes it to a higher plane. I still think that Nigella’s ‘Chocolate Guinness cake’ (which has appeared on this blog previously – The best chocolate cake ever courtesy of the Domestic Goddess) is the absolute best, but this is a good option if you feel guilty about giving your children a cake with alcohol in it.
I didn’t have the ingredients for the icing Nigella makes so I made one up with what I had to hand (a tub of cream cheese, about 100g of icing sugar and about 50g of cocoa powder) and decorated with chocolate drops and chunks leftover from the children’s birthday party. It was pretty good – a sort of chocolate cheesecake icing – but below is the proper version.
Nigella’s old-fashioned chocolate cake
- 200g of plain flour
- 200g of caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 40g of cocoa powder
- 175g of butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
- 150ml of sour cream
The (proper) icing
- 75g of butter
- 175g of good quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 300g of icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of golden syrup
- 125ml of sour cream
- 1 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
- Sugar flower decorations (optional)
Remove the butter and the sour cream from the fridge so that they can come up to room temperature and preheat the oven to 180oC.
Butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins (with removable bases) with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
Put all the cake ingredients into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. I don’t have a food processor so I put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until everything is incorporated.
Divide the mixture equally into the two tins (I am a bit anal here and I do use the scales because I’m terrible at judging by eye) and place in the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes but start testing after 25 minutes. As ever the cakes are done when a skewer comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool on wire racks in their tins for 10 minutes and then turn out and remove the lining paper. Make sure they are completely cool before you start the icing.
For the icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water.
While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little sieve the icing sugar into another bowl.
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. You may need to add a little boiling water if the mixture is a little thick, or more icing sugar if it is too runny. It should be liquid enough to coat the cake easily but thick enough not to drip off.
Put one third of the icing on top of one of the cakes and sandwich by sitting the other cake on top. Put one third of the icing on the top of that cake and smooth to the edges. Then put the rest of the icing around the sides of the cake. Spread the icing in a swirly, textured way and decorate with sugared flowers if you want it to look like Nigella’s (here’s a photo).