Saturday 29 December 2012

Chefette's take on Nigella's Chocolate Fudge Cake

I have had soooo many family birthdays' lately which has meant lots of baking. Ever since I have gotten into baking, I have been searching high and low for a really delicious chocolate cake recipe, and I have never found one... until now. This recipe is going to be be staple chocolate cake from now on. I found this Nigella Lawson recipe here and I only changed one ingredient and gave the cake four layers rather than two, and it was DEE-LISH!!! So if you need a special cake to ring in the New Year and celebrate 2013 then I can highly recommend this! Now I did do a bit of research with regards to substituting the various sugars in this recipe, but the molasses in both the muscovado and golden caster sugar are essential in bringing out the chocolatey goodness. I also sprayed this cake with some golden sugar shimmer spray which is now my favourite new cooking gadget!

* Recipe has been taken from *

Chocolate Fudge Cake

For the cake

400 gram(s) plain flour
250 gram(s) golden caster sugar
100 gram(s) light muscovado sugar
50 gram(s) cocoa powder
2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon(s) salt
3 medium egg(s)
142 ml sour cream
1 tablespoon(s) vanilla extract
175 gram(s) unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
125 ml vegetable oil (Nigella used Corn Oil)
300 ml water (chilled)
For the fudge icing
175 gram(s) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
250 gram(s) unsalted butter (softened)
275 gram(s) icing sugar (sieved)
1 tablespoon(s) vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
2. Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins, I used four to get my layers.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. 

4. Using an electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and oil until just blended, then beat in the water. 

5. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.

6. Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

175 gram(s) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
250 gram(s) unsalted butter (softened)
275 gram(s) icing sugar (sieved)
1 tablespoon(s) vanilla extract

1. To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave - 2-3 minutes on medium should do it - or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.

2. In another bowl beat the butter until it's soft and creamy (again, I use the KitchenAid here) and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy.Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

3. Sandwich the the cakes together with the icing, and then ice the top and sides too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

Happy caking and baking

Friday 14 December 2012

Chefette's Victoria Sandwich Sponge Cake

The Victoria Sandwich Sponge Cake is probably the most popular and stock standard cake in the UK. In Australia, I guess our typical type of Birthday cake would be a chocolate mud, well in the UK it is the classic Victoria Sponge. I wouldn't describe the Victoria Sandwich as a sponge by my maybe Aussie definition, but more like a butter or pound cake. The cake was named after Queen Victoria who favoured this cake with her afternoon tea over all other sweet treats. Victoria Sponge recipes barely differ, but as I find this cake a bit too heavy, I have changed the method, which made the cake far less dense.

Victoria Sandwich Sponge Cake

200g caster sugar
200g butter
200g self-raising flour
4 eggs separated
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line two baking tins.
2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixing bowl and gradually add egg yolks, vanilla bean paste, milk and flour (in that order).

4. Gradually fold egg whites into cake batter.
5. Traditionally you halve the batter and bake two cakes and sandwich them together once baked, however, I separated my batter into halves and coloured some red and baked four individual cakes rather than two. Completely your preference. Be creative!

6. Bake until cake springs back or when a skewer comes out clean.


Victoria Sandwich Butter Cream

100g butter
140g icing sugar

1. Blend butter and icing sugar together in electric mixer until smooth.

In between every layer OR in the middle of your two sandwiches, spread a layer of strawberry or raspberry jam and the Victoria Sandwich Butter cream.


Quite often icing sugar is sifted on top, but I used a hard white icing and then piped on some roses in royal icing to finish it off and give it a special touch.

Happy Caking xxx

Sunday 9 December 2012

Cannoli with Crema di Pasticceria

Given that the festive season is upon us, I thought I would share a little family classic. This is the kind of food we have at parties and celebrations and Christmas. Cannoli are a Sicilian pastry dessert, cannoli essentially means little tubes, traditionally they are filled with ricotta cream or another kind of sweet pasty cream/custard which I will show you below. Now I normally love making everything from scratch, but given these tiny tubes are consumed in seconds but are time-consuming to make, I always buy the shells and then fill them myself. I know shells are readily available in Australia from a good continental deli, but finding them in the UK has been seemingly difficult. I ended up purchasing my shells from my local Antonio Carluccio restaurant for a staggering £12 which is about $20AUD for 24 small shells, but it was all worth it, they disappeared in minutes. So here is my recipe for Cannoli Crema di Pasticceria.

These were the only cannoli shells I could find!

Crema di Pasticceria (fills 24 cannoli shells)

1/3 cup cornflour
1/3 cup of custard powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or essence
300ml cream
1 egg yolk (beaten)
2 tbls of liquor (only if you like)

(150g of mixed dark/milk cooking chocolate for half the mixture to be chocolate flavoured)

1. Sift cornflour, custard powder, and caster sugar into a pot and stir to combine.

2. Gradually add milk and whisk until smooth and free from lumps.

3. Add vanilla bean and cream and continue whisking until combined.

4. Turn heat on. Whisk over a low heat until mixture begins to thicken and simmer.

5. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool slighly before adding the beaten egg yolk. Mix well.

6. Separate mixture evenly into two bowls.

7. Pour in melted chocolate into one of the bowls to make a chocolate version of the crema di pasticceria.

8. Cover bowls with cling film and refrigerate either over night or for several hours. Don't worry if mixture is slightly lumpy at this point.

9. Remove from fridge and place mixture into an electric mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes. This will remove any lumps from the cream and will make the mixture smooth and easy to pipe.

10. Fill piping bag up with mixture and pipe vanilla through one side and chocolate on the other. This means you get the best of both in one tiny tube. (Note: It is best to pipe the mixture as close as possible to serving so cannoli shells are still crispy)

11. Once piped, sift icing sugar on top for serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Chefette's Italian Shellfish Stew!

Now I apologise in advance for the lack of specific quantities in this recipe, but when you're cooking true Italian style, "a little bit of this" and "a little bit of that" are perfectly fine. This dish is PACKED full of flavour, is relatively cheap and providing you don't over indulge on fresh ciabatta bread, it is relatively healthy.

Italian Shellfish Stew

1 bag of mussels (de-bearded)
350ish grams of green prawns
A whole crab or some large crab legs
(Any other seafood that takes your fancy)
1 litre of tomato passata
Some fresh tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
Fresh chilli
Olive Oil
1 red onion
White Wine
Ciabatta bread for serving

1. Start by ensuring all your seafood is clean and ready to use.
2. In a large pot with a generous amount of olive oil, add diced onion, chilli and garlic and fry until soft, but not brown.
3. Add a generous splash of white wine, and by splash maybe 1 cup or so.
4. Add passata, chopped tomatoes and large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley to the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Add salt, pepper and sugar to the sauce to taste)
5. Add shellfish to the sauce and simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes or until mussels have opened up. (Depending on the seafood you're using and the size, this time will vary. Also if you have smaller prawns you may want to add these last as they won't take long to cook.
6. Serve with ciabatta bread, which is delicious to soak up the beautiful sauce!

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