Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

Ever since I spotted this recipe in the book How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson, I knew I needed to make it. I bought the book years ago, and only recently got around to making the loaf. Now that I have made it, I wonder why I waited so long.

Part of the problem was that I purchased the British version of the book, as I was so very anxious to get a hold of it. I was an early adopter… being oh-so smart to order it from the UK Amazon site… but this meant that all the measures were British. Not so smart after all. Converting the recipe to the North American measures wasn’t beyond me, but it was tiresome. All I wanted to do was to make the cake and eat it too.

When I could not ignore the recipe any longer, I hunted on the internet for a translated version. Hurrah! It existed and is below. Don’t wait years to make this like I did. Make it right away… it’s a rich, chocolatey delight (even though it shlumps in the middle when it has cooled).

Here’s how it went:
Softened butter and brown sugar went into a bowl.

butter and brown sugar

Butter and brown sugar.

Beat those together well.

mixing together the butter and brown sugar

Mixing together the butter and brown sugar.

Measure the chocolate.

four ounces of chocolate

Four ounces of chocolate.

Added the chocolate, eggs and vanilla.

eggs and vanilla are added

Eggs and vanilla are added.

And 2 teaspoons of my secret ingredient, espresso coffee powder.

instant espresso coffee

Instant espresso coffee.

After painstakingly mixing in a spoonful of water, then a spoonful of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients a few times before deciding that was a cruel joke and upping the quantities to half a cup of water then half a cup of the flour mixture, there was this batter.

dense chocolate loaf cake batter

Dense chocolate loaf cake batter.

The finished product, just out of the oven.

dense chocolate loaf cake

Dense chocolate loaf cake.

Sliced and ready to serve.

slices of dense chocolate loaf cake

Slices of dense chocolate loaf cake.

You can find the original recipe here:
http://www.npr.org/2008/02/14/18912133/nigella-lawson-valentines-chocolate-indulgence

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 tsp. instant espresso coffee (optional, added by whatfoodimade)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later, and grease and line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. The lining is important as this is a very damp cake: use parchment or one of those loaf-pan-shaped paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand-held mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next, fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to over beat. You want the ingredients combined: You don’t want a light, airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you’ve added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won’t come out completely clean.

Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out. (I often leave it for a day or so: like gingerbread, it improves.) Don’t worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do so because it’s such a dense and damp cake.

Makes 8 – 10 slices.

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