Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake Redo

I was excited to finally reach this week in the Gourmet Live50 Women Game-Changers that I and my fellow food bloggers post about each Friday. Nigella Lawson is one of my favorite food personalities. She makes cooking a sensual experience, and her gift for descriptive words warms my writer’s heart. But most of all, I like her because she always emphasizes recipes that are enjoyable for everyone—delicious for the guests and stress-free for the cook. Plus she’s British, and I’m a life-long anglophile.

After searching through her cookbooks for one in the many recipes I wanted to feature, I decided on her chocolate orange loaf cake, primarily because I had all of the ingredients and I didn’t want to let my partially-used can of Lyle’s Golden Syrup go to waste. I was surprised by the image in her cookbook, Nigella Kitchen. The cake had sunk a great deal and wasn’t the most beautiful one I’ve seen. According to her website, that is how the cake should look and she wants all of the images to look real so the home cook won’t be surprised by the results.

My relationship with this cake didn’t start off well.

I mixed up the ingredients, poured the batter into the loaf pan, and popped it into the oven. About five minutes before the timer was about to buzz, I began to smell something burning. When I investigated, I found the batter had oozed over the top of the loaf pan and into the bottom of my oven! I quickly turned it off, pulled out the surprisingly still soupy cake, and turned on a fan in hopes the smoke would not set off my apartment building’s fire alarm.

What had gone wrong? I checked out the Kitchen Queries section of Nigella’s website. The recipe in the cookbook called for a two-pound loaf pan, which is one that measures 9 x 5 1/2 x 3 inches. My loaf pan is 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches. I guess it was just too small.

So I decided to try again, this time using a 9-inch spring form pan. The result was wonderful! The cake itself only sank slightly in the middle. The flavor is a delightful combination of rich chocolate with just a hint of orange that will have guests guessing, “What is that flavor I’m tasting?”

The cake is crumbly, but I noticed in the cookbook photo it also looked that way, so I guess it is just the nature of this cake. Made in the spring form pan, it can fit any special occasion, be it an elegant tea or a casual birthday party. Next time I plan to serve it with a little whipped cream on the side.

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake
From Nigella Kitchen: Recipes From the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle’s), or dark corn syrup
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 eggs
Zest of 2 regular oranges and juice of 1

1 x 2-pound loaf pan (9 x 5 1/2 x 3 inches) [or 9-inch spring form pan]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line your loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the sides, or line with a paper loaf-pan liner.

Beat the already soft butter with the syrup — if you dab a little oil on your tablespoon measure with a sheet of paper towel, the syrup shouldn't stick to the spoon — and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth caffe Americano cream, though the sugar will have a bit of grit about it.

Mix the flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder together, and beat into the syrup mixture 1 tablespoonful of these dry ingredients before beating in 1 egg. Then add another couple of spoonfuls of the dry ingredients before beating in the second egg.

Carry on beating in the remaining dry ingredients and then add, still beating, the orange zest and finally, gradually, the juice. At this stage, the batter may suddenly look dimpled, as if slightly curdled. No need to panic! [This didn’t happen to me.]

Pour and scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, though check 5 minutes before and be prepared to keep it in the oven 5 minutes longer if need be. A cake tester won't come out entirely clean, as the point of this cake, light though it may be, is to have just a hint of inner stickiness.

[For a spring form pan, bake for 20 to 25 minutes.]

Let cool a little in its pan on a wire rack, then turn out with care and leave on the rack to cool.

Be sure to check out my fellow food bloggers to see what they prepared to honor Nigella Lawson:

Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed,
Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef,
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney,
Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary - One Perfect Bite,
Sue - The View from Great Island,
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Nancy - Picadillo,
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen,
Annie - Most Lovely Things,
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook,
Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me,
Martha - Simple Nourished Living,
Jill - Saucy Cooks
Sara - Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds


  1. Linda you are a trooper!! And from the looks of that gorgeous cake (on the top and the slice on the oh-so-lovely plate)it was worth all of your efforts. You and your family must be the poster people for delayed gratification...ha!!

  2. It's a shame you had the problem, but the cake sounds and looks delicious. It really is a lovely recipe and it was a perfect choice to highlight her recipes and skills. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Glad the second time was a charm and that you were able to truly enjoy this cake! The recipe sure looks and sounds like a winner!

  4. Enjoyed reading your post. I had a similar mishap with runaway batter when I made poundcake from scratch recently. Every time I bake and cook is a learning experience. I have looked at the photo in her cookbook often, and wondered how it would taste. Thanks for letting me know!

  5. That cake looks scrumptious! So glad you gave it another shot!