Sunday, 22 November 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

The new husband was having a cake sale to raise money for BBC Children in Need, and asked me to help hime provide cakes for it. Nigella recommends her Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, saying that hers sold a pound a piece, but I'm sure there was the Nigella factor there - I would definitely pay a pound for s cupcake made by Nigella! But the husband liked the idea, so I said I would make them for him.

The cakes were quite expensive to make, and if I were to do it again I would put milk chocolate, not dark, into the icing as personally I found it a bit too bitter, but they looked very dramatic. Nigella said that hers made 12 but I made them a bit smaller and came out with about 40. I had a bit of drama as I put the batter into the cases, and had just put them in the oven when I realised I had forgotten to add the eggs! They were sitting, ready beaten, in their jug! I had to scrape the batter back into the pan and start again.

The husband did actually ice the cakes, I can't take any credit for that, but I did at least prepare the icing! Reports are that they sold well. We went away for the weekend so he left early and hadn't found out how much they had raised. I'll post an update when we know.

We went to Dublin for the weekend. Brilliant city, brilliant fun, lovely food. But we have eaten a little too much meat, so I'll be looking for some lighter veggie recipes that will still keep us warm. Any veggie foodie blogs out there?

Sunday, 15 November 2009


One of our most exciting wedding presents was the Panasonic Breadmaker. Yesterday I set it up so that we could have fresh-baked bread first thing in the morning.

I'd not made bread since I was a child, and had never had a breadmaker. To be honest, I was expecting a dense bready lump to come out. I was incredibly surprised by the resulting loaf: a crunchy crust, a light, even textured crumb and a delicious taste.

We ate the first slice hot with jam.

Wholemeal bread:

3/4 tsp dried yeast
400g wholemeal strong flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
280ml water
15g butter

Put all ingredients (yeast first, then flour, then liquid) into breadmaker. Programme. Wait.


Thursday, 12 November 2009

Cloud Cake

So my first post really did have to be about Chocolate Cake. And this was no ordinary chocolate cake. This was Nigella's Cloud Cake.

I had heard about this mythical cake first from my (now) Sister-in-law, Suzie. Then I read about it in the Newspaper. A light, airy yet decadent cake. But it wasn't in the Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame.

So, in a bid to reverse the downward trend of cake-baking brought about by the prospect of the Wedding Day, and much commented on by new husband (it was the topic of his Groom's Speech), I spent Sunday afternoon whisking this cake together.

The reason the cake is so light and heavenly (like clouds), is because of the eggs. The eggs are separated, the whites whisked and then the chocolate, egg yolks and butter are folded into the mixture. There is no flour in this recipe which means that it is suitable for those who need wheat-free.

I didn't do the whipped cream topping as I wanted the cake to keep for a couple of days, so I served the whipped cream on the side, which I preferred. Its a luxury cake, but it is heavenly, and deserves the accolades!


250g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
125g unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175g caster sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
23cm springform cake tin
for the cream topping:
500ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling for the cream topping


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

2. Line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment.

3. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.

4. Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 75g of the caster sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and orange zest.

5. In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 100g of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but not too stiff.

6. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35–40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.

7. When you are ready to eat, place the still tin-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its tin. Don’t worry about cracks or rough edges: it’s the crater look we’re going for here. Whip the cream until it’s soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff.

8. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.