Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A few weeks ago I watched Nigella Lawson prepare a quadruple chocolate loaf cake on TV. Yes. Quadruple. She's always a hoot to watch and that luscious chocolate scenario sucked me right in. I've never made a recipe of hers before but this one had my name on it. I went immediately to the web site, copied down the recipe and read the reviews, something I'm learning to do more often these days. The extra time spent reading about other baker's pratfalls can be quite time consuming, but it does give you tips and general guidelines that eventually save you time and heartache when it comes to preparing the dish on your own. I often don't listen to my own advice and jump right into a recipe without reading it properly, not even knowing if I have all the ingredients on hand. Well this time I read what others had to say and ended up with a splendid chocolate loaf cake. But I did not make a quadruple chocolate cake per se. I made a double chocolate cake with a double chocolate garnish. Yes, I am lazy. My other excuse is, it seemed like over-kill and just too messy. And with the fabulous results I got, I'll probably never do it Nigella's way. So the original recipe is here.

The feedback: Some of the commenters had trouble with the size of their loaf pans and found their cakes oozing over the rims. I got nervous about that so the first time I made the recipe I did what some suggested- I used two small loaf pans. There was no bubbling over, but also not enough rise in the cakes. The recipe calls for a 9 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 inch pan. I'm thinking some people didn't measure their pans (that would be me, because I don't know where to measure). Top or bottom? Anybody know? Fannie Farmer doesn't say. Anyway, I dug around my supply of pots and pans and found a very large loaf pan, the kind you'd use for meatloaf if you wanted to feed your neighbor's teenage sons. It's 9 x 5 1/4 x 2 1/2 measured on top. And this worked. Nigella also made her cake in a food processor. I used a hand mixer. She didn't use salt. I added some. And she baked in a 325 degree oven. Many reviewers couldn't buy that concept so they did the regular 350. I stuck with the 325. I also used brown sugar and granulated sugar. And instead of boiling water, I added hot/warm coffee. Ina Garten does it all the time so I figured I'd take a tip from her as well. Oh, and the baking time was an issue for some- they thought not long enough. And the large chocolate chips became a sinking issue for others. Anyway, I think I've ironed out most of the problems presented and came up with a cake you'll be happy to make and share with others.

Double Chocolate Loaf Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson

Cooking spray
1 T cocoa powder (for dusting loaf pan)

1 cup old fashioned oats ground in food processor or spice mill
2/3 cup AP flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (for cooking and baking) softened- first time I ever tried this product
1/2 stick unsalted butter softened
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup Splenda Sugar Blend)
1/3 cup brown sugar (or 3 T Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
2 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1/2 cup warm coffee
1 cup semi sweet chocolate mini chips

1 cup Hershey's Lite Syrup
2 oz dark chocolate bar shaved

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Nigella suggests you put a baking sheet in the oven at this time. I haven't figured out why, but I did it anyway.
Take everything you need out of the refrigerator so all ingredients can come to room temp. Prepare loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with 1 T of cocoa powder. Shake out excess.
In medium size bowl sift flour, ground oats, cocoa, salt and baking soda. You will probably have some small pieces of oat bran left over that didn't blend, just discard them. Set bowl aside.
In large mixing bowl combine butter, butter substitute and sugars. I like to mix this for about 3 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to insure ingredients are blended. Add dry ingredients and combine. Now add the warm coffee and mix, then fold in the semi sweet chips. Pour into prepared pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Test with toothpick for doneness. Remember there are chocolate chips in the cake, so don't mistake dark, runny chocolate for an underdone cake. If the crumbs are damp, the cake is not done and needs a few more minutes. My cake was fine at 1 hour exactly. Cool cake in pan for 20-30 minutes and remove to serving platter.

The double garnish: If you think your chocolate meter can handle this, drizzle chocolate syrup over your slice of cake and top with chocolate shavings. And without sounding too decadent, I believe a dollop of whipped cream on top would be divine.

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