Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Best Chocolate Cake You Will Ever Eat

Have you ever owned a cookbook that feels more like an old friend than a couple of hundred pages bound together with some pretty pictures? Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess is just that to me. I actually bought this book for my mom for her birthday or Christmas several years ago, but have since borrowed (read: stolen) it from her and read it cover to cover about three times. It’s not even that I use the recipes collected in this book all that often, but reading them is just this strange comfort. It might have something to do with my mild obsession with England: their food, their super cute guys, their culture, etc., but more likely it has to do with the fact that all of these recipes remind me of a life that I want – one with overstuffed pillows, bookshelves lined with classic novels, baked goods on Sunday afternoons, holiday traditions and simple everyday pleasures. This chocolate cake is certainly one of them.

-1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
-1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
-2 large eggs, beaten
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-4 ounces good (I’m cringing at the fact that I just said “good”) bittersweet chocolate, melted
-1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
-9x5” loaf pan

-Preheat your oven to 375◦ and place a baking sheet on the rack positioned in the middle.
-Grease your loaf pan and then line it with parchment. (Yes, you need to do both. This cake is damp.)
-Using a mixer or a wooden spoon, mix together the butter and brown sugar until creamy.
-Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well.
-Carefully add the melted chocolate, (for microwave directions go here) mixing until incorporated. Do not overbeat.
-In a separate bowl, stir the flour together with the baking soda.
-Add a spoonful of the flour mixture to your batter, and mix until incorporated. Then, do the same with a spoonful of boiling water. Continue on this manner, alternating flour mixture and boiling water, until you have a smooth, silky mixture.
-Pour into your lined pan, place on top of the baking sheet on your middle rack and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325◦ and bake for another fifteen minutes.
-Put the loan pan on a rack and leave to cool completely before removing from the pan. Warning: it may sink in the middle.

A couple of notes:
-Please, please do not ignore the line about baking this on a cookie sheet. I peeked into the oven one night to find this cake erupting like a volcano.
-This is a DENSE CAKE. I have baked it for up to forty extra minutes. It really is going to depend on your oven. A skewer inserted into this cake (whether you bake it fifteen minutes more or forty) will not come clean. Expect this. You really do need to let the thing cool completely so that the semi-molten interior will cool into a shape resembling a loaf cake.
-PLEASE MAKE IT. And let at least one hunk of it hang around for a few days because this thing, somehow, gets better with age.

P.S. - I didn't plan this post in accordance with Dani's yesterday -- we must be on the same wavelength!

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