There is a definite end-of-term feeling in the air even though today like yesterday is surprisingly grey and overcast with a hint of rain. The seasons in Istanbul are very marked and holidays follow the school year: summer is now round the corner and the city will empty immediately schools finish in June. Turkish families will leave en masse for their seaside homes and expats will depart on annual home leave. Istanbul minus traffic then becomes the most wonderful summer city in which to be.
|devil’s food cake ready to serve|
Last week a group of close friends met at my house for the last tea party of the season before such departures. I especially wanted to hold it here before the imminent birth of Daughter No 2’s long-awaited baby! So I was looking for a special cake to offer my friends and found it in Nigella’s book Kitchen. It was the picture that drew me – I always go for recipes with pictures – and I thought it looked decadently delicious. Indeed it proved to be instant Death by Chocolate and was worth every calorie-filled mouthful!
|with a few ripe strawberries alongside|
Here is the very straightforward recipe for Nigella’s Devil’s Food Cake:
2 x 20cm sandwich tins
For the cake:
50g best-quality cocoa powder,sifted
100g dark muscovado sugar (I used light as that’s all I had)
250ml boiling water
125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
150g caster sugar (I used regular granulated sugar)
225g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
For the frosting:
30g dark muscovado sugar
175g unsalted butter, cubed
300g best-quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
· Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line the bottoms of both sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.
|lined with baking parchment|
|weighing the cocoa|
· Put the cocoa and 100g dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare and pour in the boiling water . Whisk to mix and then set aside.
· Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.
· In another bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb together and set aside.
· Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.
· Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping the bowl well with a spatula.
· Divide this ‘fabulously chocolatey batter’ between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean. Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5-10 mins, before turning out to cool. Peel off the paper.
|you can tell they are done because they are coming away from the sides of the tin|
|removing the paper|
For the frosting:
|2 bars nestles bitter + 1 bar lindt = 300g|
1. Put the water, 30g muscovado sugar and 175g butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
2. When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate pieces, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.
3. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and then, by which time the cakes will be cooled and ready for frosting.*
|filled but uniced|
4. Set one of the cooled cakes, top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula. This frosting ‘never quite dries to the touch but this is, in part, what makes the cake so darkly luscious. Goo here is good.’
*I actually had to wait 2 ½ hours before my chocolate frosting thickened and acquired a spreadable consistency. I’m not sure whether this was because of the chocolate or what but was quite worrying at the time! It looked fabulous, dark and glossy but refused to firm up. However, in the end it was perfect. Moral of the story: don’t panic, it’ll all be fine.
The cake layers can be baked 1 day ahead and assembled before serving. This is what I did. Wrap each separately in cling film and leave on a plate or place in a tin. The iced cake will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in a cool place.
Uniced cakes can be frozen on day of baking, each wrapped in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months. Defrost for 3-4 hrs on wire rack at room temperature.
Why don’t you give this cake a try? I promise you’ll love it!