This is a cake based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. It's made the rounds on the Internet. People talk about how ugly, yet delicious, it is. Most recently, I saw a variation of it on this site, and decided I had to make it myself. But I wanted to make the original version first, and I also didn't want to do the 101 Cookbook recipe, which involves spelt flour. I've already upset various family members with obsessive recent forays into vegan baking, experimentations with quinoa, marginally tasty black bean brownies, etc. It was important to prove to said family members that I was still willing to do the full-on, non-healthful, 2-sticks-of-butter version and see if it was really "all that" before trying to lighten it up. So I did. Nigella's original version can be found in a lot of places on the web, like here. And it was pretty good, but it lacks salt, and it NEEDS salt. I shared the cake with friends and family and then made it again, this time subbing other stuff in. White, whole wheat pastry flour. Smart balance in place of half the butter. Salt. It is still excellent, and in its second incarnation tasted better to me than the original. Other tasters who tried both agreed. The cake doesn't really need icing or a smear of cream cheese or any of the random recommendations I've seen on the web. Some claim it tastes better the next day, but it is just as nice once it cools. What's key, I think, is using very good chocolate. I used Ghiradelli's bittersweet baking chocolate. It will definitely be a recipe I'll make again.
Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (adapted from Nigella Lawson, marginally healthier with less butter and more whole grains)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup other shortening (I used Organic Smart Balance)
1 2/3 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar**
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup white whole wheat pastry flour (it's important to buy PASTRY flour, otherwise simple whole wheat flour will be too heavy)
1/3 cup regular white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. boiling water
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x5 bread loaf pan with shortening, then line with parchment paper - this keeps the cake from sticking. Grease parchment paper as well.
Cream butter and sugar together in mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. When blended, stir in melted chocolate. Mix dry ingredients, separately, and add 1/3 of the flour mixture to batter, alternating with 1/3 of the boiling water, then stir in the remaining flour and water in thirds. Pour batter into loaf pan.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, turn heat down to 325, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely. If top appears cracked and not runny, it's done - a tester inserted inside will come out doughy, so that's not a good test. Once cool, turn onto a baking dish. Serve. Enjoy.
**yeah, I'd try for Muscavado sugar if I happened to be going to Whole Foods, but good old fake brown sugar like you buy in any regular grocery store is fine. Store bought brown sugar is usually refined white sugar with molasses added.