She may have admitted to using coke and weed but the only things we’re addicted to are her recipes.
The past few weeks have seen sultry chef starlet Nigella Lawson fall from grace in a big way. Not only was she embroiled in an ugly fraud case against her former assistants, she’s had to relive the summer’s painful memories when her husband Charles Saatchi was pictured gripping her throat, and now has been forced to admit that she has taken drugs on various occasions.
Good Old Nigella!
The festive season is certainly high time for hedonism and over-indulgence: for some this can mean heavy-drinking, retail therapy, binge eating or perhaps the consumption of the less legal kind. However, it’s widely accepted that the best bit of Christmas is the food. Be it an oven-fresh joint stewing in its own juices, mountainous piles of crispy roast potatoes or a Christmas pudding doused in lashings of brandy sauce.
A journalist turned TV chef, Nigella has built up an impressive empire of cook books, kitchen utensils and TV shows thought to be worth £15 million and she is credited with inspiring many to try out cooking for themselves.
In this recipe, Nigella mixes the indulgence of a heavy chocolate cake with the festivity of the Christmas spices, ginger, cinnamon and clove, to give a sticky and rich wodge of the old-fashioned kind of gingerbread (more of a cake in texture) than the crispy gingerbread people we’re used to nowadays.
Ginger ale does seem like a weird ingredient but honestly for some reason helps push this gluttonous treat into the upper echelons of heaven. However, the cake is sweet and moist enough on its own to omit the icing layer all together if you need to.
125g dark muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1.25 tsp bicarb soda
2 tbsp warm water
275g plain flour
175g choc chips/chopped chocolate
1) Preheat the oven to GM 3/170 C. Line a 30 x 20 x 5cm roasting tin with baking parchment.
2) In decent sized saucepan, melt the butter, syrup, treacle, sugar and spices. In a cup, dissolve the bicarb in the warm water.
3) Take the pan off the heat and beat in the eggs, milk & bicarb/water.
4) Stir in the flour and cocoa and beat with a wooden spoon to mix.
5) Stir in the choc chips and pour the mix into the lined tin(s).
6) Bake for about 45 mins until risen and firm. It will be slightly damp under the set top - this is what you want. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the tin.
250g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
60ml ginger ale
1) Sieve the icing sugar.
2) In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the butter, cocoa and ginger ale. When the butter's melted, whisk in the icing sugar.
3) Lift the gingerbread out of the tin and unwrap the liner. Pour over the icing just to cover the top and cut into fat slabs when set.
How About Trying Nigella Lawson's Lemin Meringue Cake?
Though Christmas dessert cooking places a wonderful emphasis on chocolate, there may be times over the festive season when you’re stuffed with chocolate from the assortment tin, the selection box, the edible tree decorations, the gold-wrapped Santa, and the chocolate Salame – excuse us whilst we adjust our belts – so eventually you may be seeking respite. Nigella’s legendary lemon meringue cake will inject a fresh citrus zing into your Christmas bloat without letting up on the sweetness. Well it is Christmas, right?
Born from Nigella’s alleged inability to make a traditional lemon meringue pie, this recipe adapts the classic into a tiered cake formation, meaning slip-ups can easily be disguised. In Queen Indulgence’s own words, this is “so much better than a lemon meringue pie could ever be.”
125 grams very soft unsalted butter
4 large eggs (separated)
300 grams caster sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
100 grams plain flour • 25 grams cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
zest of 1 lemon
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
150 ml double cream (or whipping cream)
150 grams good quality lemon curd
1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/400ºF. Line and butter two 21cm / 8 inch sandwich tins.
2. Whizz the egg yolks, 100g / ½ cup of the sugar, the butter, flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb, and lemon zest in a processor. Add the lemon juice and milk and process again.
3. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and spread until smooth.
4. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then slowly whisk in 200g / 1 cup of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two sponge-filled tins, pouring or, more accurately, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.
5. Smooth one flat with a metal spatula, and with the back of a spoon, peak the other and sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the peaks. Put the tins into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
6. With a cake-tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it's cooked all through. (It will have risen now but will fall back flattish later.) No sponge mixture should stick to the tester. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.
7. Unmould the flat-topped one on to a cake stand or plate, meringue side down.
8. Whisk the double cream until thick but not stiff and set aside. Spread the flat sponge surface of the first, waiting, cake with the lemon curd and then spatula over the cream and top with the remaining cake, bronze-peaked meringue uppermost.
Next page: Chocolate Salame