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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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The trouble with eggs

Oh mayonnaise, what are we going to do with you? You taste very nice in your little jars, but so many cookbooks and chefs tell me that homemade mayonnaise is even nicer that in the interests of tasting delicious food I feel it is my duty to make some. Trouble is that these same chefs and cookbooks also tell me how darn difficult it is to make it from scratch, hence our reliance on the good old Hellmans. In the book I’m reading at the moment, Lunch in Paris (not a cookbook but a true story about an American falling in love with a Frenchman and food in Paris, peppered with a few recipes here and there -right up my street) , the author describes meeting her new beaus family and mother who, calmly in the middle of conversation, whips up a bowlful of mayonnaise to go with lunch. She made it sound so easy, the swine, that I just knew right then that I had to try myself. The meal it revolved around was supposed to be pan fried salmon with lime and coriander mayonnaise and crushed potatoes again with lime and coriander from my new book French Brasserie. Unfortunately my attempt at mayonnaise went disastrously – I added the oil too quickly to the egg yolks so instead of a bowl full of pillowy, creamy mayonnaise I ended up with oily egg yolks that had the same consistency as grease. And I had no extra eggs to try again, so I ended up grilling the salmon in foil with lime, ginger, chilli and coriander and accompanied the fish with the potatoes described earlier. While tasty, it lacked the je ne sais quoi that I had anticipated from the homemade mayonnaise, and in my bad temper I’d seriously over cooked the salmon. Bugger. So to say it wasn’t the most successful evening spent in the kitchen would be an understatement. Nigella quotes in one of her books that she grew up making mayonnaise and never knew it was difficult until someone commented on her ability to do it. This is why I love her, so unfazed, so blasé at the tricky side to cooking, and encouraging you, as she would phrase it, to feel the fear and cook it anyway. True for life outside the kitchen too, just do it. One day, homemade mayonnaise, I will return to overcome your tricky ways.

Despite what the rather misleading title of todays blog would have you believe, I’ve also had a successful crack at the eggs this week. This success came from Nigella Bites, which is one of my favourite offerings from The Lawson. When a cookbook has chapters like ‘TV Dinners’ and ‘Trashy’, you know you’re going to be eating well. Favourites from this include the chocolate fudge cake (simply amazing, if you only make one recipe from Bites, this is the one) and the meatballs and pasta. I got Bites from EBay secondhand when I first moved out of the parents home and I really love that there are splashes of food on some of the pages. The Boyfriend thinks its gross, but being the dreamer that I am I just think of the happy meals a family or couple had using this book. Or maybe they weren’t such great meals if they ended up selling it on eBay. Hmmm. Dinner tonight from this gem was masala omelette with coriander chutney and chapatis, which is in the breakfast section but between you and me, this ain’t no breakfast. What it is though is tasty with a big chilli smack in the face which I very much appreciated after a tiring day of work. The omelette is taken up a notch with chopped spring onion, chilli, garlic and some Indian spices, and eaten wrapped up in chapatis with a big dollop of coriander chutney. So easy and ridiculously tasty. The chutney provides most of the spice, which is sharp and nasal clearing but not the sort of spice that turns your mouth into a volcano. It’s manageable. The chutney just involves chucking a few chillies, herbs and coconut cream in a blender with some lime juice so is very simple, and likely to not even be a chutney at all. It contains my two favourite herbs which are mint and coriander. God, I love them. They smell glorious and transport me to tropical shores every time I get a whiff of them. They also taste stunning, alone or together, and I’m rather partial to eating them on their own while waiting for something to cook. What a freak. The time/flavour ratio for this dinner is off the scale, it takes no time at all yet delivers a really flavourful meal that wakes your taste buds up. The perfect recipe then, to get me amped up and excited about the release of Nigella’s new cookbook next week. This is an obsession I’m happy to continue for a little while yet!

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