Tag Archives: birthday cake

Another Day, Another Birthday Cake

Chocolate. Fudge. Cake. Are there three words in the English language that go together, flow together, as perfectly as those three? It’s a close call with Cheese. On. Toast, that’s a given, but for the sheer decadence the former brings to mind, it’s a winner. So when asked to bake a birthday cake for a colleagues sons seventh birthday, chocolate fudge cake is what instantly sprung to mind. After all, what child, or indeed person can resist this cake? I’d been itching to make this cake again and it’s fortunate for my thighs and arteries that I baked this for a specific event and not just on a whim one Sunday afternoon, as with this cake it really is very easy to talk yourself into having another slice. As you may remember from an earlier blog, the cake from Nigella Bites is a favourite of mine so this is the recipe I went with today. It’s the definitive chocolate fudge cake and I would never think of straying from this recipe, so neither should you! The recipe does contain some unusual items that you might not expect to find in a cake, like sour cream and corn oil, but go with it as they help keep the cake super moist. Put your faith in Nigella and you shan’t go wrong! It’s simple to make which is a worry if you have little self control and time on your hands like I do, but great if you just want a simple, delicious cake without putting too much effort in.
Nigella suggests in Bites that this glorious cake serves 10 or 1 with a broken heart. I can see all too clearly how true this could be. It’s been many a year since I’ve suffered from a broken heart (Robbie leaving Take That in the nineties- ’nuff said) but having had a terrible week and pining for The Boyfriend, the temptation to dive head first into this cake until I’m hallucinating on a sugar and cocoa serotonin high is overwhelming. Death by chocolate, but what a way to go! Still wanting to stay on this mortal coil though, I resisted, and while I may be selfish with a disdain for the general public, I’m not stooping as low as taking cake from a child. So taking the high road, I decorated it with chocolate buttons so as to remind myself who this cake was for. Great British Bake Off it’s presentation isn’t, but for me and my cackhandedness it’s a good start. The challenge now is to get it into the office tomorrow without it ending up all over the windscreen or having the buttons slide off. Maybe it’s time to invest in a proper cake box. The end result with this recipe is a moist, cocoa rich cake, sandwiched together with silky smooth chocolate buttercream and then smothered in it. The smell of it alone as you walk into the kitchen tells you it’s going to taste divine.

When I first made this cake, we’d just moved in together and given free rein in the kitchen I knew I had to make this. No reason, no occasion, I just wanted a big cake sat in the kitchen to say ‘this is home’, regardless of the fact that a big cake like that was too much for the two of us. I should have moved a stoned teenager in with us and then the problem would have been solved! Top tip that I discovered though when this cake started to lose its freshness – pop it in the microwave for a short blast and you’ll have a warm, moist cake that tastes even better than a cold fresh slice. Grab some squirty cream and you’ve got heaven on a plate. Reason enough to make this cake, heartbroken or not.



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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Baking, Books, Chocolate, Cooking, Nigella Lawson


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For The Love Of Chocolate

I’ve made no secret of my pure, unadulterated love for chocolate. It’s been 26 years but my love for the brown stuff shows no sign of abating, and nor would I want it to. Unluckily for me though, this week chocolate has not loved me. I don’t know what I’ve said or what I’ve done, but clearly I’ve pissed the chocolate gods off in some way, shape or form; what else could explain the disasters that have befallen me this week? Before I tell you of the heartbreak and distress that I have suffered, I should probably start with the more savoury stuff. Some of my lovely workmates came over for dinner earlier on in the week (this blog entry features these cheeky scamps heavily I’m afraid!) and rather than stressing myself out by cooking something time consuming or complicated I decided to take advice from my all time favourite, Nigella Lawson, and make a simple tray bake. It was Spanish chicken from Kitchen, and the only effort required of me was to chop up some chorizo, red onions and sweet red peppers and chuck them in a roasting tray with some chicken thighs, olive oil, new potatoes, oregano and orange zest. Minimum effort, maximum taste. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, you can always rely on Nigella. I was worried the dish might be a little dry but the amount of spicy paprika oil provided by the chorizo was enough to prevent any dryness and gave everything shed loads of flavour. Plus the skin on the thighs was nice and crispy due to the high oven temperature, perfect. The dish even introduced one of the girls to the delights of chorizo, so as well as feeding I like to think I’m also educating! This yummy main was followed by chocolate lava cakes with a salted caramel centre (this sounds so much sexier in French- moulleux au chocolat coeur fondant caramel sale – swoon) which came from The Little Paris Kitchen. Then things started going wrong. If only I was capable of following instructions To.The.Letter. Being the maverick that I am though, I fobbed off her advice to fill up the ramekins with the cake mix and then pipe salted caramel into the centre of the uncooked mix, and instead filled the ramekins up by a third with cake mix, dolloped some caramel on top, then topped with some more mix. A silly, silly mistake. After baking until juuuuuuust right (thank you Goldilocks), I attempted to get the fondants out of the ramekins. Instead of cakes with an oozy caramel centre, I ended up with a thin layer of chocolate cake covered in salted caramel and the rest of the cakes stuck in the ramekin. Oh sure, they came out eventually with a little prodding and poking, but the effect of cutting into the cake and a soft, oozing centre flowing out was lost. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would be less than complimentary. Luckily for me, my workmates are not Paul and Mary, so I may have gotten away with it, but Masterchef it ain’t. When the entire structure of a pudding collapses, you know you should have just manned up and tried to get to grips with a piping bag instead of taking the easy way out. They looked a mess, so no photo this time. Despite this disaster, the ladies seemed o enjoy it, and that’s the good thing about friends, they don’t judge you on your ability to hold a chocolate fondant together. That’s one of the positive sides of having a boyfriend who works away for long periods of time: you find out who your real friends are and which ones make an effort to talk, meet up, send texts, or just get me so trollied that I can barely even remember my own name or that my boyfriend is on the other side of the world.

Onto my second chocolate disaster. Once again, this was for one of my lovely workmates whose birthday it is on Monday, so what with it being a big birthday I decided to bake a cake for her. I do feel for my workmates, I’m regularly bringing in various baked goods to force feed them with, whether they regard themselves lucky or unlucky over this is hard to say as they may well be very good liars. Until they say stop, I’m going to keep bringing them in. This cake was Coca Cola cake from Marian Keyes lovely book Saved By Cake, and was chosen because the birthday girl is a coke fanatic. It’s hard to put down in words how much she loves the stuff, I’m not even sure I can fully comprehend her love for it, but I imagine it’s similar to my overwhelming love for chocolate. This is a cake that would be absolutely perfect for kids what with it containing coke, chocolate, mini marshmallows and topped with fizzy cola bottles (not such a perfect cake for the parents though I guess, what with toddlers likely to still be screaming and rolling around the floor from an intense sugar high at midnight) but is just as enjoyable for childless adults. The cake itself was lovely, damp with a gooey stickiness from the melted marshmallows, strong cocoa flavours and a hint of the fizzy stuff (you must go for the full fat coke, Diet would simply be wrong and pointless when you look at all the other ingredients). The icing though, was another story completely. Made up of butter, coke, cocoa powder and icing sugar, I just could not get it to thicken and set. It didn’t help that I had exactly the amount of icing sugar stated in the recipe, so adding a bit more to thicken the runny sauce was out of my hands. I was covered in flour and chocolate so a trip to the shop was out of the question, I just had to pour it over the stacked cake and pray it all went OK. It did not go OK. While some of the icing stayed put on the cake, the majority ran off the cake and gathered in a pool on my cake stand (which in actual fact was the lid from a Celebrations tub), which ended up looking like a very big boat in a small, muddy puddle. Again, my presentation skills need some serious improvement. Fizzy cola bottles saved the day though and I arranged these as prettily as my unartistic hands could manage. This morning upon waking I was in a foul mood, and on asking myself why I realised it was because of the failed icing and the cake looking a mess. I invest way too much emotion into my baking. Either that or life’s so great right now that bad icing is the only cloud on my horizon. But I think it’s the first one. In the end it didn’t matter too much as Cokehead seemed to really enjoy it and with lit candles and a sparkler the pool of icing didn’t seem so bad. Its the thought that counts, right? In baking, mistakes are easily made and I need to learn to not be so ridiculously hard on myself and just enjoy doing it, then subsequently eating it.



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