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Recipe: Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake

A loaf cake is just the thing to have about your kitchen: it promises sustenance without showiness; and the rich and scented sombreness of this one confers more gravitas than the flighty words "chocolate cake" would seem to convey.

But then this is no decadent fancy, rather a slice-able slab of cocoa-rich serenity. The chocolate is intoxicatingly present, deep and dark in taste, but the texture of its crumb is light. When I was a child, there was a chocolate bar that was advertised as "the sweet you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite." Hard to believe now, isn't it? However, the thing about this cake — which has a citrus tang so mellow it comes through as warm spice — is that you feel you can snaffle a slice mid-morning or mid-afternoon without feeling the slightest bit weighed down, digestively or psychologically.


1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

dab flavorless vegetable oil, for greasing syrup spoon

2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle's), or dark corn syrup

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

2 eggs

zest 2 regular oranges and juice of 1

1 x 2-pound loaf pan


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line your loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the sides, or line with a paper loaf-pan liner.

Beat the already soft butter with the syrup — if you dab a little oil on your tablespoon measure with a sheet of paper towel, the syrup shouldn't stick to the spoon — and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth caffe Americano cream, though the sugar will have a bit of grit about it.

Mix the flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder together, and beat into the syrup mixture 1 tablespoonful of these dry ingredients before beating in 1 egg. Then add another couple of spoonfuls of the dry ingredients before beating in the second egg.

Carry on beating in the remaining dry ingredients and then add, still beating, the orange zest and finally, gradually, the juice. At this stage, the batter may suddenly look dimpled, as if slightly curdled. No need to panic!

Pour and scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, though check 5 minutes before and be prepared to keep it in the oven 5 minutes longer if need be. A cake tester won't come out entirely clean, as the point of this cake, light though it may be, is to have just a hint of inner stickiness. Let cool a little in its pan on a wire rack, then turn out with care and leave on the rack to cool.

Cuts into 10-12 slices

Excerpted from Nigella Kitchen: Recipes From The Heart Of The Home by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2010 by Nigella Lawson. Excerpted by permission of Hyperion.

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Nigella Lawson