October 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
One can never have too many chocolate cake recipes. Or too many chocolate cakes, for that matter. Though I am partial to buttercream and ganache, I thought this year, for my birthday, I’d eschew that and settle for something a little more ‘adult’ and pared down.
But oh-so-delicious! I was actually thinking about making a layer cake, or a Nutella cheesecake, but then I was flipping channels on TV and saw Nigella Lawson whip this up on her new-(ish) series Nigellissima. It’s so easy, so dense and so delicious.
The olive oil makes it moist and rich, with a dense crumb. This is the kind of cake that does not crumble too much, so you don’t have to keep dusting yourself off. You can go ahead, fork off a large morsel, and dive in- because once you are done with that first bite, you will want to take larger and larger forkfuls!
My only worry with this cake was the olive oil itself- I thought it might overpower the taste of the cocoa and make the cake taste like, well, olive oil. But it doesn’t. There is a faint hint of it, yes- but the pinch of salt, almonds and cocoa balance it out quite well, lending the cake a sophisticated flavour. (I’m not trying to be a cake snob, but ‘sophisticated’ is honestly the best way to describe it! This cake does not have a kiddie, cupcake-with-sprinkles kind of taste…though even that is a wonderful flavour.)
I tweaked the recipe as usual. I used equal parts almond meal and all-purpose flour instead of going flourless like Nigella. Next time I’ll use only almond meal and see how it turns out!
CHOCOLATE & OLIVE OIL CAKE (From Nigellissima.)
- 50 g cocoa powder, sifted
- 125 ml boiling water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 75 g flour
- 75 g almond meal/ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
- 200 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a 9-inch cake tin and line the base with parchment paper and set aside.
- Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl. Whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, pourable paste with no lumps. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
- In another bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, olive oil and eggs for about 3 minutes on high speed until you have a pale, fluffy, thickened foam.
- Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture. When everything has come together, add in the flour mixture and fold until no streaks of flour remain in the batter.
- Scrape down the sides, stir once again to combine, then pour the batter into the cake tin.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the middle looks slightly damp. (Nigella says “A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.”)
- Allow the cake to cool before serving. I served mine completely cooled, but you can also serve it when it is warm and a little custard-y in the center.
October 23, 2013 § 3 Comments
The classic Victoria Sponge has been on my to-do list for a while, and I don’t know how many times I have thumbed through the recipe in my copy of How To Be A Domestic Goddess. I made a practice cake last month just to test it out, and it was quite nice.
Last week I was on a cake making spree. I used a lemon I found at the local market to make a quick lemon & vanilla loaf. I made a chocolate and olive oil cake. And then I set my sights on the Victoria Sponge again.
The sponge is usually sandwiched with cream & fruit jam, or with cream and fresh berries (as pictured in Nigella’s book.)
I tried whipping cream to soft peaks, but soon realized that it was not going to work with humble Amul cream. (If any of you have managed with Amul cream- any tips? I did keep everything chilled.)
After wasting two little small cartons of fresh cream and much sugar, I gave up.
And then it struck me: why not ditch the cream for peanut butter? Especially since I had not just any old peanut butter, but Dark Chocolate Dreams from The Peanut Butter & Co?
This PB is just amazing. A little more on the expensive side since it’s imported, but totally worth it if you enjoy and appreciate peanut butter like me. (I bought it on Foodesto.com- they have great products, wonderful service and deliver a large selection of their goods across India.) It tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, in spreadable form. Delicious. And it’s not cloying.
So this may be a bastardized (pardon my French) version of the classic British cake, but a little American peanut butter love does no harm to this soft and crumbly sponge.
And I am going to be cliched and douchey and say that it transported me back to childhood. Technically, it shouldn’t; since peanut butter has been a steady part of my adulthood, but cake always brings out a little child in all of us.
PB&J VICTORIA SPONGE (From How To Be A Domestic Goddess.)
- 225 g butter
- 225 g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 g flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 25 g cornflour
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
- Peanut butter and jelly/jam of your choice for filling
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Line two 9-inch sandwich tins with parchment paper and keep aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and corn flour and keep aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract, followed by the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each egg.
- Once the mixture comes together, fold in the remaining flour mixture.
- The batter is going to appear a little thick and sticky, so pour in 3-4 tablespoons of milk to loosen it up a bit and bring everything together.
- Divide the batter equally between the sandwich tins and bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until the cakes begin to come away at the edges. You will know they are done when they are springy to touch.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- To assemble, place one cake, right side up on a serving platter or cake stand. Spread the peanut butter and the jam/jelly over the cake generously, taking care not to spread all the way to the edges. (If you spread too far to the edges, the filling will splodge out when you place the second cake on top. Be generous with your filling, but keep it more towards the centre so that it has room to spread when the second cake is placed on top.)
- Place the second cake on top, upside down.
- Dust with icing sugar for extra effect.
Or don’t, like me.