As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I will shortly be moving to Italy for six months to work in the Rome office of my company. While I cannot wait to eat my way around the city and see how far my Italian will get me when chatting with the produce sellers at Testaccio market, for now my excitement has been replaced with slight freak-outs at the amount of stuff I need to get on top of these last 3 weeks in London (interspersed with being slightly emotional at seeing certain places for the last time and saying goodbye to good friends).
While I have started packing (never boring – do I have more stuff than I think? Do I have less stuff than I think? How heavy can I fill one of these boxes? Is this enough bubble wrap?) another key task is to clean out my pantry. I made a huge pot of chili the other night to finish my cans of beans. In a similar vein I made this cake to make a dent in my ample baking supplies. Although I still have two birthday cakes to bake which should take care of some of the flour that remains in my pantry, I also have assorted tins with little bits of baking powder, some cocoa nibs, some cocoa and brown sugar that need using up before the move. While I cannot see myself shipping any of this to Rome, I would hate to see it thrown away. Besides, I am always looking for an excuse to bake …
For this loaf cake I adapted my favourite recipe for Chocolate Orange Muffins. I really like making loaf cakes using a basic muffin recipe (a recipe for 12 muffins is enough to yield one big loaf cake) – somehow the separate combining of wet and dry ingredients before mixing everything together quickly (before the gluten in the flour has any chance to start working) results in a perfect rise and a beautiful moist crumb. Although I used the basic recipe, I ended up making quite a few changes: I did not add any chopped chocolate (using cacao nibs instead for a less sweet and slightly more grown-up chocolate crunch), I ended up using less sugar and I substituted the wheat flour with spelt (these days I tend to have spelt on hand much more than wheat flour, somehow I get better results when baking with spelt and I find it is more flavourful). I also increased the amount of cocoa from the original recipe and added a Chocolate Olive Oil Ganache glaze to finish the cake (and scattered some Fleur de Sel on top). As for the combination of chocolate and orange – it is one of my go to flavour pairs. As Niki Segnit writes in the Flavour Thesaurus:
I could not agree more.
Chocolate Orange Cacao Nib Loaf Cake
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu “Muffins”
380g spelt flour
140g brown sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 tablespoons cacao nibs
1 pinch salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
zest of 1 unwaxed orange
75g butter melted
For the ganache glaze
60g dark chocolate
20g olive oil
fleur de sel
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a loaf pan with some butter or oil.
2. Combine all the dry ingredient in one big bowl.
3. Melt the butter and combine with the eggs and the milk.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly combine the two with a fork being careful not to overmix it.
5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for ca. 55 minutes (or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean).
6. Let the cake cool completely on a cooling rack before applying the glaze.
7. While the cake is cooling melt 2/3 of the chocolate over a bain-marie. Once melted, add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate and the olive oil. Mix everything well together and let the glaze thicken a bit.
8. Using a spoon drizzle the glaze over the cake and sprinkle with some flakes of Fleur de Sel.