Choosing a recipe using Muscovado sugar that at the same time appealed universally was a doddle.My choice had to be, without a question, Nigella´s dense chocolate loaf cake.Yup you guessed it, we´re back in food porn territory again.This indulgent cake is all about the finger lickin,eye rollin´and much tossing of the hair style of baking.The pouting sex object is a hard look to pull off when you are elbow deep in messy dark brown chocolate batter,but‘‘doing a Nigella’’ (was there ever a time when she needed a surname?)spells success every time,and at the age of 52 her recipes still continue to give great satisfaction.Just the uttering of those three syllables NI -GELL -AAHHHH gives the male cake baker goose bumps.When baking this cake you imagine the grande dame ( you are no longer a goddess when you´ve turned 50 ?) wrapped in a slinky black dressing gown, telling us we are at the age when baking a dense chocolate loaf is what you do of an evening .
Muscovado is unrefined cane sugar that's especially prized by bakers. It is darker in colour, finer in grain size and stickier than other cane sugars due to the high level of molasses that has not been refined out of the sugar. It offers resistance to high temperatures and has a long shelf life.Muscovado sugar can be used as a substitute in recipes where brown sugar is required.The English borrowed the term in the seventeenth century from the Portuguese phrase açucar mascavado,unrefined sugar.The Portuguese verb mascavar ádulterate,´to speak or write incorrectly,came from the probable vulgar Latin minuscapare `make less.´The english form, muscavado, no doubt comes from unconscious association with such words as muscovy and muscatel.
Mascavado Claro -Light Muscovado is used to add flavour and colour to cakes, puddings, preserves, toffee, sauces and ice creams. It has a natural toffee characteristic with light golden colour combined with a fine texture which adds volume to cakes.
Mascavado Escuro -Dark Muscovado has a rich flavour allied with its darker hue. It is ideal for chocolate-based preparations, rich fruit and Christmas cake. It also adds fine texture suitable for savoury sauces, chutneys, pickles and toffee sauces.Because of its high molasses content it enables a one-product application, replacing the combining of white sugar and molasses.
So are you ready to bake this majestically indulgent cake?
First of all lets hear what the culinary first lady has to say about her own recipe."It is the essence of all that is desirable in chocolate:its dark intensity isn´t toyed with,nor upstaged by any culinary elaboration.This is the plainest of loaf cakes-but that doesn´t convey the damp,heady aromatic denseness of it.To understand that,you just have to cook it.Go, girlfriend,bring it on.
225g soft unsalted butter
375g dark muscavado sugar
2 large eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g best quality dark chocolate,melted
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250ml boiling water
23x 7cm forma (loaf tin)
Preheat the oven to 190c/gas mark5, put in a baking sheet to catch any drips,and grease and line the loaf tin.The lining is important as this is a very damp cake:use parchment,Bake-O-Glide or one of those loaf tin shaped paper cases.
Cream the butter and sugar,either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand held mixer,then add the eggs and vanilla,beating in well.Next fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate,taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat.You want the ingredients combined:you don´t want a light airy mass.Then gently add the flour,to which you´ve added the bicarb,alternatively spoon by spoon,with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.Pour into the lined loaf tin,and bake for 30 minutes.Turn the oven down to 170c/Gas mark 3 and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside,so an inserted skewer won´t come out completely clean.
Place the loaf tin on a rack,and leave to get completely cold before turning it out.( It can be left for a day or so:like gingerbread it improves.)