Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Nutella Cake

Forgive me for another Nigella recipe but I recently had a birthday (fun fact – it’s Jan 6th, the same day as Nigella’s!) and I wanted to bake myself a cake, so who better to turn to for a fabulous recipe than our Nige? This Nutella cake is from ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ and is referred to, rather fancily, as Torta Alla Gianduia in the book. You can see the online version of the recipe here.

The cake was easy as peas to make and it made the most fantastic birthday breakfast (it’s once a year so back off diet police) and continued to be enjoyed by guests for a couple of days after. It is very rich so you only need a slither. Note the word ‘need’….necessity should always be overtaken by sheer greed when it comes to birthday cake.

To make it, you start by whisking 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff(ish) peaks. An electric whisk is best for this.

You then need to beat together a whole 400g jar of Nutella (I omitted a spoonful or so as it accidentally fell into my mouth instead of the bowl) with 125g soft unsalted butter in a separate bowl. I found this quite a workout so I hereby give permission to skip arm day at the gym if you make this cake. Add in the six egg yolks that were previously separated from their whites, a tablespoon of water and 100g ground hazelnuts. Confession – I used ground almonds as I couldn’t find ground hazelnuts and did not have the time nor patience to grind any whole nuts myself. It worked just as well, though I admit it loses a little of its authenticity. Next, fold in 100g of dark chocolate that you have melted and allowed to cool.

Now two bowls must become one. Add a dollop of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and beat well, then add the rest of the whites one third at a time, folding gently, until you have a coherent mixture. Without eating too much of it, scrape the batter into a cake tin that has been greased and lined and bake at 180°c for 40 minutes or so until the cake is coming away from the edges of the tin. Mine actually needed an hour. Leave to cool on a wire rack until it is completely cold before un-moulding from the tin. For the love of Nigella, do not ice it whilst it is still warm.

To make the icing, heat 125ml of double cream with 125g of dark chocolate and a tablespoon of water until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until you achieve a thick mixture that will sit on top of the cake without running down. I never quite reached this consistency by whisking alone so added a tablespoon of icing sugar to thicken it up and this worked a treat. Top the cake with the icing then scatter over 100g of whole, peeled hazelnuts that have been toasted in a dry frying pan and are completely cool. And voila, you have got yourself one fine looking cake that is everything you want from a chocolate cake. It’s rich, gooey centred and full of calories. Happy Birthday to me (and Nigella!)

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The Verdict: An easy cake to make and more interesting than a conventional sponge. The crunch of the whole hazelnuts was a welcome addition to the chocolatey gooeyness of the cake, especially after it had been sitting for a bit and the sponge and icing were becoming one.

Washing Up Score: 8/10 – So.Many. Bowls.

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