nigella's chocolate cake

from nigella lawson

Nigella Lawson is on crack. This took me two bowls, not counting my food processor and my blender, and the three tiny cake pans I baked it in. She says about it:

A cake takes scarcely five minutes to mix, you do nothing to it while it bakes and then you have a glorious creation in your kitchen, bestowing welcome all weekend.

Those who remain unconvinced should start off with the all-in-one chocolate cake below. There is nothing to get alarmed about: you just plonk flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into a food processor, blitz for a few minutes, pour the ensuing Aztec-earth-colored batter into two greased pans and bake.

The hardest thing you have to do to make the frosting is sieve the confectioners' sugar, my most hated job in the kitchen. Melting the chocolate for it is a cinch if you have a microwave; otherwise just chop it fine, and put it in a bowl that can be balanced on top of a pan of simmering water. This is the perfect chocolate cake: beautiful, melting, intense but not heavy.

-- NYTimes, 18 Feb 2004

Well, she's on crack. Three bowls if you try to do it her way; probably just one if you do it the normal way and mix by hand (or by coveted KitchenAid). Nigella, stop fucking around and just put the necessary effort into your cake -- it will be better, and less messy.

Also, as for that "Aztec-earch-colored batter" -- dude, the woman has clearly never worked with chocolate before. I mean, yeah, it's great, but I think you're only allowed to rhapsodize like that if you're a neophyte in the kitchen -- which she's clearly not, if she's got a food column for the Times!


I haven't actually tried the frosting, but the cake is pretty good. Your basic chocolate.

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

For the cake:

  • Butter for greasing baking pans
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/3 C best-quality cocoa powder
  • 6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/8 C sour cream, at room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 6 oz good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 3 oz (3/8 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 1/2 C confectioners' sugar, sifted

For cake: heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter sides of two 8-inch cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment paper. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a knife blade, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Process to make a smooth, thick batter.

Using a rubber spatula, divide batter between pans, and smooth tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes; do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans.

For frosting: Combine chocolate and butter in a large heat-proof bowl, and heat until melted in a microwave oven or over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in corn syrup, sour cream, and vanilla. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until very smooth. Frosting should be thick and spreadable. If necessary, add a teaspoon or two of boiling water to thin it, or additional sifted confectioners' sugar to thicken.

Cut four strips of waxed or parchment paper, and place them side by side on a cake plate, covering the surface. Place one cake layer domed-side down on plate.

Spoon about a third of the frosting onto center of cake, and use a knife or a spatula to spread it evenly. Place the other cake on top, domed side up. Spoon another third of frosting on top of cake, spreading to make swirls or a smooth finish. Spread sides of cake with remaining frosting, and allow to sit for a few minutes until set. Carefully remove paper strips. Place cake under glass or in an airtight container, and set aside in a cool place until serving. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.