Nigella Lawson is one of the best and most influential British food writers of her generation. Here, she shares recipes from one of her most successful books, Nigella Bites.
Nigella's fabulous recipes - chic but irresistibly homely - and fluid, accessible writing style have made her into a household name. Thousands have identified with her unique approach to food - which never ignores that women, as well as enjoying the many delights of the kitchen, and the joy to be had from sharing them with others, also hold down jobs and lead busy lives.
Nigella Bites (Chatto & Windus, £20) is one of many bestsellers to have flown from the pen of Ms Lawson. It accompanied her Channel 4 series and offers uncomplicated, original, fresh recipes. They're easy to produce after a busy day at the office, fun to linger over at weekends or to make with the kids. Her cooking symbolises all that is best, most pleasurable and least fussy about the place of good food in our lives.
Nigella's Bites: Egyptian Tomato Salad Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad Ham in Coca-cola Chocolate Fudge Cake Bitter Orange Ice-cream
Chocolate Fudge Cake
I have a bad Amazon habit. You know the ‘when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping’ line? Well, the not-so-tough get their retail therapy online. Or I do: when I can’t sleep I start ordering books. And I comfort myself twice over by telling myself how useful they are, how they really help my work. I offer this recipe, adapted from a book that in itself soothes, Tish Boyle’s Diner Desserts, bought at 3am one unravellingly wakeful night, as proof.
This is the sort of cake you’d want to eat the whole of when you’d been chucked. But even the sight of it, proud and tall and thickly iced on its stand, comforts.
Serves 10. Or 1 with a broken heart
For the cake:
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
142ml/small tub sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml chilled water
For the fudge icing:
175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. 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. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the KitchenAid a comforting presence in itself. 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. 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. 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. I know sieving is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth. Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.