I'm on a bit of a Nigella Lawson roll innit?
I don't know about you but when I was growing up, every cake apart from birthday cake was a loaf cake. Or a bundt cake - which is the same but in a fancier tin.
More specifically in my home, it was a chocolate and vanilla marble cake with a faint hint of lemon as my mum and yaya always put lemon zest in every cake. I bet my mum will be surprised that I remember her cakes so well :) I remember not being able to understand, no matter how many times she explained, why she put the zest of lemon in cakes. Finally, I totally get it!
So yeah, loaf cakes have all sorts of great associations for me - treats, home, comfort, guests, mummy-time ... when I grow up and have kids, I want to always have home-made cake in my kitchen. Try and recreate these great memories for my kids. In a large raised cake stand with a glass lid, there will always be some home-made goodness. Yup, I know, hello obesity! We'll balance it out somehow :)
I think the main thing with loaf cakes is that despite being very un-fancy, they're usually really good cake! They don't have any fancy frosting or ganaches to hide behind - at most a drizzle of a glaze - so the cake has to be great. And it usually is. This one by Nigella Lawson is pretty incredible. I made it for church and because I'd sliced it up and didn't get a chance to tell anyone what it was, every one thought they were brownies. It is a dense cake but not too much so, chocolatey but not overwhelming, perfectly citrussy and I think the addition of chocolate chips makes it the perfect loaf cake; understated but so incredibly satisfying.
With the weather getting very cold, I am getting the overwhelming urge to bake lots of loaf cakes so while I get on with that, how about you give this one a go? And make sure you feed back okay? I love hearing how your baking goes; especially when it's a recipe from my blog.
Have a wonderful week!
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen
150g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
dab flavourless vegetable oil, for greasing syrup spoon
2 x 15ml tablespoons golden syrup
175g dark muscovado sugar
150g plain flour, plus about 1 tablespoon for tossing chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
25g best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
zest 2 regular oranges and juice of 1
100g dark chocolate chips
1 x 900g (2Ibs) loaf tin
- Preheat the oven to 170C / Gas mark 3 and line your loaf tin with baking parchment or a paper loaf-tin liner.
- Beat the already soft butter with the syrup - if you dab a little oil on your tablespoon measure with a sheet of kitchen roll, the syrup shouldn't stick to the spoon - and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth caffe Americano cream, though the sugar will always have a bit of grit about it.
- Mix the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder together, and beat into the syrup mixture 1 tablespoon of these dry ingredients before beating in 1 egg. Then add another couple of spoonfuls of the dry ingredients before beating in the second egg.
- Carry on beating in the remaining dry ingredients and then add, still beating, the orange zest and finally, gradually, the juice. At this stage, the batter may suddenly look dimpled as if slightly curdled. No need to panic!
- Put the chocolate chips in a bowl, sprinkle over a tablespoon of flour and toss until they are completely coated in flour. (This is to stop them sinking to the bottom of the cake batter while the cake is baking). Now fold them into your batter.
- Pour and scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, though check 5 minutes before and be prepared to keep it in the oven 5 minutes longer if need be. A cake tester won't come out entirely clean, as the point of this cake, light though it may be, is to have just a hint of inner gunge. Leave it to cool a little in its tin on a wire rack, then turn out with care and leave on the rack to cool.
1 - The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and store in airtight container. Will keep for 5 days total.
2 - The cake can be frozen, tightly wrapped up in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.