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Nigella’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

May 9, 2010

Hello dear readers! It’s been a little while between posts, and I do apologise for the radio silence. My husband and I just got home from the US at 1am yesterday morning. It was a wonderful trip with lots of time spent with old friends in the Bay Area and in LA County, but I was definitely ready to come home after 8 days there.  In part because I missed my familiar bed and bathroom, but also because I missed cooking, baking and blogging.

So when I awoke at 5am this morning after a measly 6 hours of slumber, and couldn’t for the life of me get back to sleep (oy jet lag…), I decided to use those few hours before church to bake something simple, with whatever ingredients I had in the refrigerator. I knew I wanted to bake some sort of a chocolate cake, so when I groggily thumbed through my lovely Nigella cookbook I landed easily on this recipe for Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake. I had all the ingredients handy, the recipe looked easy, and it sounded yummy.

I got a little nervous in the course of preparing the batter because (a) in my sleepy state I mixed up the order of some of the steps and (b) the batter looked really liquid. But when I pulled the baking tin out of the oven after the requisite time I knew things couldn’t have gone too wrong. The cake was somewhat cracked at the top because I think I overbeat the batter, but oh what an incredible aroma! There’s nothing quite like it. I think it was the combination of brown sugar and dark chocolate. Whatever it was, the smell was heavenly. And when I took a bite of the cake, I had a very hard time stopping at one piece (so I didn’t! haha). This is easily the most moist chocolate cake I have ever had, and it somehow manages to be rich and dense without being at all “jelat” (I’m not sure what the English equivalent is for “jelat” – heavy?). So very good. This goes into my list of repeat recipes for sure.

So here we go, my adapation of Nigella’s fabulous recipe (I just put some of the ingredient prep into the main set of directions because there’s quite a bit to do).

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be A Domestic Goddess”)


225g salt soft unsalted butter
1-2/3 cups dark brown sugar (this is soft/packed sugar, NOT coarse brown sugar)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
115g good quality dark chocolate (I used Valrhona 55% Equatoriale – I think it’s good to use one that’s not too dark)
1-1/3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup and 2 tablespoons (about 250ml) boiling water


1. Preheat the oven to 190degC. Line a 9×5-inch loaf tin with baking parchment.
*Nigella says to grease the loaf tin but I don’t find this necessary.

2. Heat chocolate over a bain marie (see this Wiki page or Step 2 of this recipe) until fully melted. Leave aside to cool.

3. Cream the butter and sugar using a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat in well.

4. Fold in the melted and slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but not overbeat lest you introduce too much air to the mixture.

5. Add the baking soda to the flour, and gently add the flour mixture alternately spoon by spoon with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.

6. Pour batter into the lined loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160degC and cook for another 15 minutes. At the end of that time the cake will still appear a little mushy on the inside, so don’t panic when you see it. Take the cake out of the oven at the stipulated time.

7. Place the loaf tin on a rack and leave to cool completely before turning it out. When you slice the cake be sure to use a very sharp knife. Nigella says the cake improves if left for a day or so before eating but err… I don’t think I’ll get a chance to find that out this time round =)

Here are pics of most of the ingredients, and steps 1, 2 and 5. (Notice my pretty red silicon steamer attachment from Chef’n! I got it in Bangkok some time ago and I love it. I’m not sure whether you can get Chef’n products in Singapore, but you can definitely get them from Thailand, Hong Kong and the US.)

And that’s it, you’re done! I think the cake would be lovely with good vanilla ice cream, though it’s quite wonderful on its own. Nigella says she likes it spread with cold cream cheese so you could try that also.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2010 12:47 pm

    You even managed to squeeze in time to bake after that long flight back! Baking is in your blood 🙂 ….

    In contrary, I am counting down to go back home in the Bay Area.

  2. Cons permalink
    May 10, 2010 1:36 pm

    hum..maybe you can consider using cup cake mould the next time? Probably easier for eat? Looks yummy the cake.

  3. mrsmultitasker permalink*
    May 11, 2010 9:09 pm

    tigerfish: Oh! When are you going back?
    Cons: No need lah =) The cake actually cuts quite nicely with a good knife. It was just the first cut (that you see in my picture) that was a bit messy! It really is SO GOOD. Both my mum and mum-in-law really liked it! Success! haha

  4. May 14, 2010 8:30 am

    Welcome back! Home sweet home! Wow! Wow! I’m speechless looking at your cake! It looks divine!!!! I want to bake a chocolate cake recipe which uses yogurt and cocoa powder. But after looking at your stunning shot, I can’t wait to bake yours now.

    Aiyo, you always make me feel so envy with your new kitchen gagdets. Can’t stand the temptation to get one…….Grrrrrrr!

  5. May 15, 2010 10:50 am

    You can still bake ah, my dear? I probably can’t differentiate between the baking soda and baking powder. LOL! Great looking cake! So rich and moist, and utterly homely!

  6. Lazy Susan permalink
    May 17, 2010 12:59 am

    looks yummy! i shall try baking it for an upcoming gathering.. maybe bake them as cupcakes since i don’t have a loaf tin!

  7. mrsmultitasker permalink*
    May 18, 2010 9:16 pm

    Ju: thanks 🙂

    food4tots: Yum that sounds red velvet cake-ish… Will look forward to seeing your yoghurt & cocoa xreation!

    Lazy Susan: Yah should try dear it’s yummy 🙂 And cupcake size is a good serving size. But you might wanna cut down the baking time a tiny bit since it will cook faster.

  8. July 5, 2010 6:59 pm

    It looks so good! Will def try this recipe out =D

  9. July 6, 2010 5:43 pm

    Wei Wei you should! It’s easy and very good…

  10. mrmultitasker permalink
    July 18, 2010 6:23 pm

    This was scrumptious!

  11. August 20, 2010 7:39 am

    I have never put boiling water in a cake, what does it function as? I was thinking about using milk instead and was wondering what you thought of this. Thanks! -Heather

  12. August 21, 2010 11:50 am

    I want. I want. I want to make this!

  13. August 27, 2010 3:39 pm

    Sarah: You should you should you should! I just made it again and it was heavenly!
    Heather: I think trying hot milk might work. Let me know if you try it! But whatever liquid you use you’ll want it to be hot so that all the chocolate and butter in the mixture doesn’t harden up and form clumps.

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