dense chocolate loaf cake and blueberry tea
After not wanting chocolate for about two-three years, suddenly a huge craving set in. Now I eat chocolate in every shape and colour, and this rainy afternoon I felt the urge to bake something chocolaty for tea.
Since it was already rather late, I didn´t chose any fancy recipe, I just needed a chocolate fix, so I picked Nigella´s Dense Chocolate Loaf from the Kitchen Goddess. There were other recipes with cocoa powder (Tessa´s chocolate bread) but this one felt more like the real thing with melted chocolate in the mixture.
It started with me noticing that I was out of butter, so after a quick tour down to the grocer I was ready to start. Or at least, so I thought. But then, I realized that the muscovado I had at home won´t be enough! Hehe, I really was in need of a cuppa, I should have just sat down and read the recipe first and then see if I had everything at home...but I didn´t.
I was too lazy to go shopping again, so I used about 80 g´s of lavender sugar and 3/4 tsp of dried lavender. I have never used it before, though I made the lavender sugar more than half a year ago, so I was a bit careful, as I didn´t want to end up with soap.
Well, I didn´t. Within an hour I was having my first, still hot slice of chocolate cake and a cup of Earl Grey. Nigella says that this loaf becomes better after a few days, so it just makes it perfect for one person, as I don´t think I´ll finish it in one day :) ...I hope I won´t.
I liked the introductory chat and the way Ms Lawson describes the finished product as sunken in the middle, but that´s the way it should be, since the cake is so dense and moist. It was very reassuring for me, because otherwise I have a tendency to whinge over my insufficiency in the kitchen, as soon as my cakes, cookies or slices look too "homebaked"...
The overall verdict is that this is the perfect cake, easy and satisfying when you have a big craving but little time. There aren´t any peculiar ingredients involved, you should have everything in your pantry. Oh, except for the butter, of course, that could be a tricky ingredient;)
Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
225 grams soft unsalted butter
375 grams dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g best dark chocolate,melted
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
25oml boiling water
23x13x7 cm loaf tin
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark5 , put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later; and grease and line the 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 overbeat. 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 170C/gas mark 3 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 is sinks in the middle; indeed, it will do so because it's such a dense and damp cake.
On the weekends I try to go for a walk in the forest and just relax, let go of the problems of the week that has passed and charge my batteries. Also I like to pick flowers, berries, mushrooms or whatever I find useful. This weekend I gathered some blueberry leaves to dry for tea. When I was a child we drank blueberry tea all winter long, it didn´t cost us anything (we were actually quite poor) it was naturally caffeine free, and it had obvious health effects. (My father always loved the forest, the nature, the animals and I carried this on with an interest in natural and herbal medicine)
So next time, have a cup of blueberry leaf tea with your cake ;)
In folk medicine, blueberry leaf has been used to treat a number of conditions including urinary tract infections, diarrhea and diabetes. Limited evidence from a few animal studies shows that it may have a decreasing effect on blood sugar. In at least one study, an extract of blueberry leaves may also have lowered cholesterol levels in laboratory animals. It has been shown in clinical studies to decrease some of the retinal damage caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. Additionally, blueberry may help to make the walls of blood vessels stronger by increasing collagen linkages. If you are lucky to find some leaves with berries on, than you have a tea rich in antioxidants .
This is a bad pic but the tea has a wonderful red color and tastes refreshing.