Posts Tagged Nigella Lawson

Attempt #2: Cupcakes

Due to the success of my first cake atempt, I was inspired to brave the kitchen once more. This time, I was going to make cupcakes. I searched for a simple recipe on my favorite food website foodnetwork.com and found one by Nigella Lawson (again!).  The fact that I’m using her recipe twice in a row is purely coincidental.

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I tweaked this recipe a bit because I wanted lemon flavored cupcakes. So instead of using 2 tsp. of vanilla extract as directed, I only put one tsp. and substituted the other one with one tsp. of lemon juice and rind.  I realized after putting my mixture in the oven that maybe that was not enough to give it a lemony flavor so I tweaked the recipe for the royal icing as well.

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The result was a very light cupcake that had a hint of lemon in it. The icing came out with more lemon flavor but it was a bit too sweet for me. I am really not a big fan of sugar icing and prefer buttercream icing. Hmmmm. Maybe for my third attempt?

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Special equipment: 12 bun muffin pan, lined with muffin papers.

Take everything you need out of the fridge in time to get to room temperature – and this makes a huge difference to the lightness of the cupcakes later – and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put all of the ingredients for the cupcakes except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel, to make a smooth dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin papers, and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. They should have risen and be golden on top. Let them cool a little in their tins on a rack, and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in their papers, still on the wire rack.

Ice with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

  • 2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.

Yield: sufficient to generously ice 12 cupcakes

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Attempt #1: Chocolate Cake

img_4578I recently ate at Chili’s and had their Chocolate Lava Cake. Cocoa memories caused a really bad hankering for chocolate. Since this occured on a weekend, I was understandably lazy and would not leave the house. So instead, I rummaged through my cookbooks and opened one of my favorites – Nigella Lawson’s How to be A Domestic Goddess. I stumbled upon her recipe for a Dense Chocolate Cake. It looked and sounded a lot like what I was craving for so it was all systems go for my first attempt at baking a cake. I usually stay away from baking and am more used to cooking, but my craving convinced my that this was not as difficult as it seemed.

The recipe was quite simple and easy to follow. Almost idiot proof. In about 20 minutes, my cake mixture was in the 375˚oven baking away. After it cooled, I tried it and was deliriously happy! Not only did it satisfy my craving, but it was actually good! Although it was not dense as the recipe implied, it was very moist, fluffy, and not too sweet. I was in chocolate heaven. I would have eaten it as it was but I received a very wise suggestion to add some caramel filling. I turned to the reliable world wide web and found several recipes on caramel fillings. I ended up using a can of condensed milk and mixing it with some Karo syrup and bits of chocolate.

I am obviously very happy with the result of my first cake baking experience. So happy that I told myself that this was actually blog-worthy.

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

  • 1 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1-2/3 cups dark brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 9 x 5-inch loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

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 fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F 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.  Don’t worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do so because it’s such a dense and damp cake.

For the Caramel filling, combine one can of condensed milk with 3 tbsps. of butter and 2 tbsps. of Karo syrup. Simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens even more. Cool mixture and pour over cake or serve on the side.

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