last weekend, i baked an easter cake for you, complete with chicks and eggs, and i never actually got on here to tell you about it. the recipe will be below – so keen foodies scroll on down..
the reason it’s a week late (i’m pretty certain no one is going to be baking an easter cake this weekend) is that in an attempt to spend less time in front of a computer, i’ve been having a scheduled downtime from the internet. since being at home for easter, i realised that spending every day in front of my laptop as a city slicker, high-flying, career girl (joke, sort of!), my eyes are beginning to turn square and i’m not sure that’s a look i can style out… this and the deepest darkest cotswolds isn’t the best for internet connection!
what’s more, easter has been an absolute blast, just days of hanging with the oldest friends, sooo many adorable babies, reading books in bed, cups of tea, gin, daffodils, blossom, mini eggs, bunnies, trips to the pub, afternoon tea with the mother and soaking up spring in the cotswolds. heaven. i’ve always loved easter so much, it’s like christmas but without the effort and with warmer, sunnier weather. i’m on my way back to the big city this evening and i couldn’t be sadder to be leaving (i know, i know – i’m ALWAYS sad to be leaving wherever i’m not actually residing!) but i feel like a lucky gal to have had such a blissful break. i’m looking forward to getting back to my flat, and my mother not crashing into my ankles with the hoover, but i can’t help the feeling that my flat often feels like i’ve checked into a hotel. a cosy and lovely hotel with my cushions and kitchenaid in it but still a bit institutional. i wonder what i can do to inject a bit more ‘real home’ feeling – answers on a postcard, internet friends!
a bit of forewarning: writing might be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as i haul between oxford and leeds, leeds and liverpool, liverpool and leeds, leeds and birmingham, birmingham and oxford and phew, back to leeds! it’s time for the annual IT conference that always has me questioning my career choice and then a farewell party for the best cheese shop i’ve ever known.
to the cake…
i’ll preface this by saying that i don’t think you have to make it eastery – i would recommend you mix all sorts of booze into the icing or top with maltesers or meringue or toasty hazelnuts – use it as a base, it’s AMAAAAZING. it’s a Nigella recipe (from the feast book) and she knows her chocolate cakes, except this is actually more of a soufflé which may sound odd but it’s so light and rich and delicious. i would really beg you to spend as much time whisking the air into the egg when making this so that your cake comes out as light and fluffy as possible. Nigella, who is the queen of comforting you as you cook, explains that it doesn’t matter if this comes out of the oven sunken and broken looking because that’s part of it’s charm and it’s hugely comforting to know that as you gaze down at what was a towering majesty of wibbly chocolate but soon resembles a puddle. incidentally Nigella’s looks much nicer but she probably didn’t entrust the buying of mini eggs to her mother who lost a packet in her handbag and ate the rest while sitting in the car.
i have a fantasy of this cake with frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) stirred into the icing and little toasty nutella filled meringues across the top with scattered broken hazelnuts… watch this space!
nigella’s easter egg nest cake
for the cake:
250g dark chocolate (broken up)
125g softened unsalted butter
6 medium eggs (2 whole, 4 separated into yolks and whites)
175g caster sugar (you’ll use 75g for the yolk mixture and 100g for the whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
for the topping:
125g dark chocolate (broken up)
250ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pack of mini eggs (or similar) for decorating
my kitchenaid is in leeds so i used a bowl and electric whisk, actually two bowls..
a water bath for melting the chocolate – i’ve burned too many bowls of chocolate in the microwave to do this any other way
23 cm springform tin + release spray (if you have it, otherwise baking paper/butter)
preheat the oven to 180c (gas mark 4 or 350f) and line the bottom of the springform tin with baking paper or cake release spray – do not grease the sides of the tin.
melt the 250g chocolate with the butter over a pan of hot water (or in the microwave if you’re a real daredevil!) and then set aside to cool slightly
in a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm and then gradually add the 100g of sugar (as if you’re making a meringue/pavlova). do this until they’re holding their shape but not stiff.
in another bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs with the 4 yolks, the 75g sugar and the vanilla extract (i whisked these until they had doubled in size and were white and fluffy in consistency) and then fold in the chocolate mixture. lighten the mixture with a spoonful of the whisked egg white and then fold in the rest gently – in about 3 goes.
pour into the tin and bake for 35-40 mins or until the cake has risen and cracked and is no longer wobbly on the surface. cool in its tin on a wire rack and don’t be at all afraid when it splinters and sinks.
to make the topping, melt the chocolate and leave it to cool for a bit, whip the cream until it’s firming up and add the vanilla and fold in the melted chocolate. put the cake on a plate, not worrying if bits fall off and fill the crater made by the sinking of the cake with this chocolatey cream.
arrange your eggs/sweets etc on top.