not every occasion calls for an iced layer cake (though i could be convinced otherwise without much effort at all). there are times, of course, when a more modest treat is required – something plain and non-fussy, but equally delicious and satisfying. when it is one of those times, this is what you should make.
i know, this slab of chocolate loaf may not have the allure of its more glamorous counterparts (really, who can compete with a frosted cupcake?), but rest assured, it more than makes up for its simple looks with its knock-out taste. its flavour is deep and intense and chocolatey. its texture manages to be both dense and light at the same time. it is surprisingly moist and moreishly smooth, and on day three it is still swoon-worthy. have i convinced you yet?
this recipe comes from one of my intellectual kitchen crushes, nigella lawson. my copies of her books are dog-eared and spattered with regular use. i’ve called upon her ‘chocolate cake hall of fame’ chapter (in ‘feast’) so frequently that the book naturally falls open to those pages, and this beauty, on page 272, has become one of my new favourites. sure, this chocolate loaf cake may not be tall, but it is dark and handsome (and humble and classic and delicious). what more could you want?
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quadruple chocolate loaf cake ( from ‘feast’, by nigella lawson)
for the cake:
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
275g caster sugar (regular granulated sugar works fine here)
175g soft unsalted butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp real vanilla extract
80mL sour cream
125mL boiling water
175g dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
for the syrup:
1 tsp cocoa
100g caster sugar (again, i used granulated)
25g dark chocolate (this is shaved for the topping, which i didn’t use)
•preheat oven to 170°c (this is almost 350°f). line a 21cm x 11cm and 7.5cm deep loaf pan with tinfoil and brush/spray with oil (leave some edges of foil sticking out for removing cake from pan).
•put flour, baking soda, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into food processor and blitz to form a smooth batter (you can also follow the usual routine and make it in a mixer or by hand). scrape down the sides, then pulse again while pouring in the boiling water. stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
•pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 60 minutes (mine took about 70 min, but my oven is labile), until the loaf is risen, split somewhat down the middle and a cake-tester comes out mostly clean (“…don’t be alarmed at a bit of stickiness in evidence; rather, greet it”).
•not long before the cake is finished baking, put the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then continue to boil (CAREFULLY) for 5-10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to a slick syrup.
•when the cake is done, place it on a cooling rack and pierce it here and there with a cake tester, then pour the syrup overtop and allow the cake to cool completely (though this is amazing, if a bit delicate, when still slightly warm).
•when ready to serve, remove cake from the pan and shave over some of the dark chocolate (i skipped the shaved chocolate, though it does make the cake look even more glorious).
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