adventures in baking: chocolate cake

nigella's chocolate cake... what else does a girl need but an almost celestial slice of moist, frosted chocolate cake when all the proverbial chips are hailing down.

a few things to note:
1. The Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe comes from Nigella’s Feast book – the Food Network is doing a crap job posting the correct recipes corresponding to her shows (meaning, they’re not). Nigella has many chocolate cake recipes, however, for me, this is the easiest of the lot. It’s all one bowl baking.
2. ensure all ingredients are at room temperature. unless you’re making pastry, tarts or anything that involves a pie or a crust, all baking should be done with ingredients which have up to room temp.
3. ensure that your levening agents: baking powder & soda haven’t expired.
4. always use unsalted butter
5. use the very best cocoa and chocolate you can find. trust me, it makes a difference
6. usually for chocolate cakes, I add a little bit of coffee. although this recipe doesn’t directly call for it, it wouldn’t hurt. coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate
7. i use certified organic, certified humane eggs, which i purchase from local farms. a favorite: flying pigs farm

OK. Here are the goods (comments in parentheses are mine)

1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar (or you can just sieve granulated)
1 tea baking powder
1/2 tea baking soda
1/3 cup of best unsweeted cocoa (hot cocoa is not the same as cocoa)
1.5 sticks of unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tea of pure vanilla (no imitation, pls)
2/3 cup of sour cream (i used reduce-fat, organic)

3/4 stick of unsalted butter
6 oz semisweet chocolate
2.5 cups of icing sugar
1 tb light corn syrup
1/2 cup of sour cream (ok. this is where i had a breakdown. i already blitzed half the flour all over my kitchen and i ran out of sour cream. after screaming four letter words on volume ten and scaring the neighborhood children away, i decided to improvise and use milk instead. it is a little sweeter and less of that tart/sweet contrast, but it worked.)
1 tea vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and line two cake tins with parchment and spray (or butter).

To make (my way): Honestly, you can mix all wet ingredients and all dry separately, and then slowly incorporate wet ingredients into dry as one would typically do in baking, but you just can dump everything into one bowl or in the food processor. And Nigella agrees. BUT DON’T OVERMIX (mix until ingredients have combined) or your cake will be chocolate bread. Divide the batter into the two tins evenly and cook for 35 min (check at 25 as I did when my cakes were done) as oven temps vary. Also, you’ll known when the cake is down when it starts to pull away from the tin’s sides.

Remove and cool for ten minutes on a rack (I don’t have a rack, so I used plates and it was fine). For the frosting, melt the chocolate and butter either in the microwave or on a double boiler (which I did). Set to cool, then add in the corn syrup, milk (or sour cream as the recipes calls) and vanilla and mix. Mix must cool. Sieve icing sugar (crucial as you don’t want lumps) and then whisk sugar (a little at a time and this is IMPORTANT) into cooled chocolate mixture. DON’T FREAK OUT (like I did) as you’ll think the mixture is separating. Keep mixing with a wooden spoon). It will thicken and it will be lump-free. Set aside for 10 minutes and then ice the cake!

AND yes. my cake doesn’t look foxy. It’s a little lopsided (there was an issue transferring the top layer, but I’ve since accepted imperfection). But I tell you. It tastes DAMN GOOD. It is moist, surprising light (as my test tasters, aka friends, said when they came over and I forced the cake into the poor little mouths) and it’s keeping well in the fridge.

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