I still have my much fingered copy of “How to be a domestic goddess” by Nigella Lawson in prime position on my kitchen shelves. And I have adored this recipe since I started making it because it is both light and strong but does not give you this chocolate overdose feeling, even if you eat tons of it!
To emphasize the strength and lightness of the mix, I make it with twice as much chocolate and a third less sugar than the original but I particularly love the tangy taste left by the use of bicarbonate. It reminds me of a moist gingerbread…
Recently, I have been adding cinnamon and ginger to the original mix because I love spices and because they go so well with this moist and dense chocolate base… Here is one good reason for reblogging!
The other one is that I am due to serve it tomorrow to some of my favourite bloggers and can’t wait to get their feed back on it! I am having the closest thing there is in adulthood to a Teddy bear picnic: a mum and babes tea party! I wanted to celebrate a few very good friends first babies and this seems a good reason to throw a tea party but because those friends are real foodies and very demanding girls, I am desperately trying to impress and feeling a little nervous…
“Domestic goddess” or not, I am going to enjoy this tomorrow! (this was written early summer and party went well thank you very much – Babies lovely and even the mothers behaved!)
- Butter 225g
- Muscovado sugar 260g
- Eggs 2
- Vanilla extract 1tsp
- Dark chocolate 200g
- Flour 200g
- Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
- Boiling water 250ml
- Optional spices: Tablespoonful of cinnamon and ginger
Pre-heat the oven to 190° C and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. This cake mix will be very runny so this is pretty essential.
Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon then add the beaten eggs and vanilla. Melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water and add it to the mix. Measure the flour with the bicarbonate and add it in batches to the mix with the boiling water until you have them all well combined.
Note that you can add some cinnamon and ginger in the mix to make it richer in taste but do not have . A nice twist is also to present it with a cinnamon and ginger infused chocolate icing- more indulgent but totally worth it for a special party.
Pour into the tin then bake at 190° for 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 170 °and bake for another 15mn.
Remove when the cake has raised but is still squidgy inside. It keeps well and like gingerbread is lovely the next day with a cup of black tea or Chai Latte.
Here are a few photos from the tea party:
My lovely friend and blogger @homesweetlondon
Tagines make ideal winter dishes
As a child, I used to spend most of my Christmas holidays in Morrocco where my maternal grend-parents used to live. So Christmas is not necessarily associated for me with snow or Fir trees but more often with donkey rides in the garden, fish for supper and an exotic, tenderly arranged nativity scene or crèche in the ‘salon’ where my parents and grand-parents would take us to on Christmas morning. Tagines were served to us as a warming winter dish and they are the perfect antidote to cold and dark winter evenings. With warming spices to suffuse the soul and limbs, they also represent the easy option of a perfect one-pot no-fuss meal.
Chicken lemon in tagine dish – Serves 2 to 3
For the marinade:
- 1 frozen chopped chilli cube or two pea-size drops of Harissa paste
- 200 ml water
- 70 ml olive oil
- Ras el hanout or M’rouzia mix, 1 Tbsp
- Cumin 1 Tbsp
- Ground Coriander 1 tsp
- Pinch of safran
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh parsley
For the stew:
- Cubed skinless chicken breast with wing bone (2/3 breasts) or oyster thighs -ask a good butcher!
- 1 large red onion cubed
- 2 / 3 lemons in brine quartered
- Zest of half a fresh lemon
- 2 big handful of garden peas, fresh or frozen
Note that a few quartered potatoes can be included as an option, as in the image above – I tend to give those a miss if I am trying to recover from excessive festive indulgence… Check the water if you have added potatoes and add if necessary towards the end.
Lay all the meat and put the vegetables in the dish, then mix the marinade in a small jug and pour on top of the dish. Cover and cook on medium to low heat for 45 min. Do not open the dish too often, if ever. Chuck the peas towards the end. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
All the world’s spice under a tent
Courgettes make for a very unusual but surprisingly delicious ingredient in our Friday cake… A great recipe to bake at the week-end whilst keeping to your 5-a day.
A lovely way to eat your veg
- 3 large eggs
- 250ml sunflower oil
- 250g soft light brown sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 300g courgettes, peeled and grated
- 100g walnuts, chopped roughly
Preheat oven to 180C and prepare two 8” round cake tins.
Grate the courgettes, making sure to choose them fresh and small so they are not bitter! This could ruin your best efforts…
Beat the eggs and sugar and add the oil. Then add the flour followed by all the other ingredients.
Pour into two sandwich tins or one round tin. Bake for 35 min to 45 min, depending on your tin size. Check the top is springy and nicely raised before taking out.
I decorated the top with pumpkin seed to keep to the autumn theme.
I chose to sandwich it and spread a mix of light cream cheese and lemon curd (shop bought) in between. This is not always necessary and this cake is also nice on its own. I like the fact it is not overly sweet and the oil gives it a very springy, soft and aerated texture.
I had three teenage girls in my kitchen this week-end, exchanging geeky (chemistry!) jokes and spilling laughter and edible glitter all around the place! They used our recipe from last year and wanted to build a gingerbread house, but being ambitious and competitive young things, they decided on Big Ben as a template! So here it is: Big Ben in gingerbread and sweets.
This will make a fantastic Christmas centre piece and is now displayed in prime position in our house…
We also baked and decorated lots of gingerbread shapes to give as presents in hampers and boxes. Same recipe just shorter baking time. Because the recipe has masses of honey and spices, those are really delicious as well as decorative and none of us seem to get enough of them at tea-time… They make great dunkers!
Well done girls! I am very proud of you and you are very welcome to come back next year! Buckingham palace this time?!