Friday, 10 September 2010

Quality will out: Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (Divine Chocolate & Billington's Sugar)

When I heard that Divine had launched a new 85% dark chocolate bar I immediately started thinking about recipes I could use it in.

Don't get me wrong, it's a surprisingly good eating bar – despite the high cocoa content it's neither unpleasantly bitter nor overly crumbly (due to reduced fat content).

But I really wanted to cook with it.

I'd also been wanting to cook with the Billington's sugars I'd had in the store cupboard for a few months,

The recipe I chose is Nigella Lawson's dense chocolate loaf cake. Simple, reliable and absolutely delicious, I have to say that it's even more of a winner when made with Divine 85% chocolate and Billington's dark muscovado sugar.

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I took some into work and, as well as the normal cakeitude (cake gratitude) – which would probably come my way even if I took in a shop-bought mediocrity – I received some proper glowing compliments.

A number of people showed real interest in the recipe, keen on the rich chocolate hit and curious about what gave it that deep caramel flavour (the unrefined dark muscovado sugar). I was even asked whether I might consider bringing some in every day!

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Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (Using Divine 85% Dark Chocolate & Billington's Dark Muscovado Sugar)

225 grams soft unsalted butter
375 grams Billington's dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 grams Divine 85% dark chocolate, melted
200 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250 ml boiling water

23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin

I'm pretty sure we used lightly salted butter, that's what's usually in my fridge.
The original recipe calls for "best dark chocolate" which I would imagine is commonly interpreted as 70%.


  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees/ gas mark 5.
  • Grease and line the loaf tin. (Nigella adds that lining the tin is very important as this is a "very damp cake" but as we used silicone loaf moulds, we just buttered and floured generously.)
  • Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the flour.
  • Cream the butter and sugar then add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating in well.
  • Fold in the melted and slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but not to overbeat. (Nigella advises that you want the ingredients well combined, not a light airy mass.)
  • Gently add the flour (and bicarb) alternatively, spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.
  • Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven down to 170 degrees/ gas mark 3 and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
  • The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside so an inserted cake-tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.
  • Place the loaf tin on a rack and leave to cool completely before turning out.
  • Nigella also mentions that she often leaves the cake for a day or so as, like gingerbread, it improves. She also points out that the cake often sags in the middle as it's dense and damp.

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Suelle said...

It's interesting that you managed to make a good cake with 85% chocolate, as many chocolate recipes now specify using 70% or less, where the chocolate is melted. Higher cocoa solids chocolate behaves differently when melted and can make batters too thick to spread properly. I've found that it varies from recipe to recipe, so you can never tell in advance whether it will work or not, but it's meant I've had to lay in a stock of 60% chocolate for cooking.

Kulsum@JourneyKitchen said...

I recently bought the same brand of muscovado sugar and was wondering what to with it. This sounds like it!

Kavey said...

Suelle, it worked incredibly well... perhaps the texture of the bar has something to do with it as it's not brittle or bitter like some, even though it's got a real cocoa hit. All I can tell you is that this bar works really well in this recipe!

Kulsum, I am such a huge fan of this sugar, it has such a wonderful flavour... I do hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did... you can use 70% chocolate, as per the original recipe, I'm sure!