Friday, June 26, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake

There are lots of decadent chocolate cake recipes out there now, however this one with the addition of liqueur, dark chocolate  and raspberries is in my mind winning the race at present. This is one of those cakes where it is preferable to make it on the day of eating, and if possible eating it only an hour or so after it comes out of the oven, especially if being served as a dessert. However, if you are serving it for morning or afternoon tea, it would be fine to make it the day before. It will still taste fantastic and receive rave reviews. My daughter was cooking this cake last week when I called her, to take into work for afternoon tea, and that is how I heard about this cake. It is such an easy cake to make. It can work unfruited as well, by replacing the raspberry liqueur with a tablespoon of dark rum and serving it with coffee ice-cream. Frozen raspberries can be used, but it's best not to thaw them, and toss them in Plain flour before adding to the cake. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom.

I cooked this during the week for my friend Kati, and her parents who are visiting from Germany, to compliment the Aussie BBQ. There is always enough of this cake left over to send some home with your guests as well which they love.

This recipe is taken from the wonderful Nigella Lawson's repertoire  of recipes and has been reincarnated many times by cake lovers.


185g self-raising flour
30g  good quality cocoa powder
250g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Creme de Framboise  or Creme de Dijon Bardinet
95g castor sugar
95g muscovado sugar
250g good dark chocolate
185ml black coffee and 185ml water, or instant coffee made up with 2 teaspoons instant coffee and 370ml water
2 eggs, beaten slightly
250g fresh raspberries or around 350g raspberries if frozen, plus more to serve if desired
(Neil made up some espresso coffee for me from his roasted Venezuelan beans and the flavour permeated the cake beautifully)

Preheat oven to 180 deg. C or Gas Mark 4. (A moderate oven) 

  1. Butter a 22-23cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a bowl, and set aside.
  3. Put the butter, Framboise, sugars, chocolate, coffee and water in a thick-bottomed saucepan and stir over low heat until everything melts and is thick and glossily smooth.
  4. Stir this mixture into the sifted flour and cocoa. Beat well until the mixture is smooth and glossy again, then beat in the eggs. This will now be runny which is normal. Don't add more flour as the mixture firms up nicely whilst cooking thanks to the wonderful chocolate setting as the cake cooks.
  5. Pour the smooth mixture into the prepared springform cake tin until you have covered the base with about 2cm of the mixture and then cover with the raspberries.  
  6. Pour or spoon the rest of the mixture onto the top of the raspberries. I like to spoon the mixture over the raspberries so that they stay put and don't jump up through the mixture. However, you may have to push some of the raspberries back under the cake batter by hand.
  7. Put into the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Don't try and test by poking in a skewer as you don't want it to come out clean. The texture is like a delicate, but  dense mousse.
  8. When it is cooked, the top will be firm and slightly cracked. This is easily masked by some icing sugar sprinkled on top.
  9. When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and put on a rack. Leave it in the tin for about 15 minutes and turn out.
  10. Decorate with fine icing sugar, and serve with fresh or frozen raspberries and cream, or coffee icecream.
Thanks for dropping by,

Best wishes



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oven Roasted Ratatouille

This Ratatouille is a very versatile vegetarian dish, which enhances the traditional style, stove top ratatouille which I have usually cooked, by baking the vegetables, and roasting the tomatoes, introducing a delicious, roasted, and caramelised flavour to the dish. It can be served with bruschetta, rice, a lamb roast, or just with sourdough bread and salad. There are two options given for the tomato sauce, depending on what you prefer and what you have on hand.

This recipe is a variation of the River Cottage veg everyday recipe, presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Oven-roasted ratatouille

2 onions
2 red, orange or yellow capsicum, halved, cored and deseeded (green will also do if that is all that you have)
400g zucchinis (courgettes)
1 large eggplant (aubergine) about 350g, or a few smaller ones
5 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
A small handful of oregano or thyme sprigs, leaves only chopped.

Preheat the oven to 190 deg. C. Cut the onions into thick slices, from root to tip. Cut the capsicum unto 2-3cm pieces. Halve the zucchini and chop them thickly if very large. Cut the eggplant into 2-3cm cubes.

Place the vegetables into a large roasting dish, add the olive oil, add plenty of salt and pepper and toss it all together.

Roast for 1-1 1/2 hours, giving it all a good stir a couple of times during the cooking process, until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown around the edges.

You now have two options. You can either make a tomato sauce on the stove top which is then mixed through the ratatouille veges at the end and baked for a further 10 minutes, or make a lovely variation with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, economically using your oven at the same time as the other vegetables. I opted for the the roasted cherry tomatoes because I had the tomatoes, and they impart a beautiful caramelised flavour to the dish, however it depends on what you have on hand and I will  provide the recipes for both.

Dry Roasted Ratatouille with Cherry Tomatoes

Arrange  500g halved vine-ripened  cherry tomatoes closely together in a single layer on a small roasting tray. Trickle with a little Olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes at the same time as the veg., on a lower oven shelf for at least an hour until reduced, wrinkled, and slightly caramelised and charred. They shouldn't need to be cooked as long as the other vegetable tray.

When the cooked roasted vegetables and the tomatoes have cooled a little, toss them very gently together in a bowl. Stir in the chopped oregano or thyme. Serve the dish at room temperature, and trickle a little extra olive oil over the top if desired.

This ratatouille can also be served on bruschetta, or with couscous or rice.

Stove-top Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, slivered
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
A large sprig of thyme
A pinch of sugar

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and let it sizzle gently for a minute without browning then add the tomatoes with their juice, the bay leaf and thyme. Cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring often and crushing the tomatoes down with a fork. When the sauce is thick and pulpy, season with salt and pepper and the sugar. (Sugar is optional.)

Add the tomato sauce to the cooked vegetables, mix well, and return to the oven for 10 minutes until bubbling and fragrant.

Serve the ratatouille preferably warm, but never chilled.

Best wishes