6 Sep 2015

nigella's big choc cake

  

Does anyone else watch cooking shows and think, what a waste? Let me explain. Watch the cook or presenter chop up some herbs — and not put it all into the dish. Or take a bowl of flour or sugar from the carefully prepped and measured mise en place selection, and not use it all. Or whip up a cake batter, pour it into the baking tin, but leave a good portion behind in the mixing bowl.

I loved watching Luke Nguyen’s recent travels around the UK (what a friendly guy!) but I noticed when he didn’t use the whole portion of ingredients set out. Someone (probably some lowly assistant) went to the trouble of chopping and mincing and measuring out that spring onion, and lugging it out to some windy outdoors location — hey, use it all!

Nigella is another, far worse offender. Watch her chop coriander and leave handfuls of it behind on the chopping board. Or whiz up a cheesecake, pour the batter into the tin, but not use a spatula to scrape it all out. Yes, it looks liberating and wantonly to cook with such abandon, but …

It’s a waste!

Surely it’s a mess to wash up all that unused batter or brush away that discarded herbage.

But mostly I can’t help think it’s food and money being thrown away. On the occasions when a cake I’ve made doesn’t turn out, I get cranky about the good eggs from mum’s chooks that have been wasted. Or the beautiful butter or nuts or chocolate or other quality ingredients I’ve bought — wasted. The ingredients that have been paid for — left behind, then washed down the drain or thrown into the garbage? Does that make sense?
Hopefully the vegetably ingredients are composted, though I doubt Luke, cooking on Hadrian’s wall, had a compost bucket off-camera. And maybe Nigella and her TV crew lick the bowl and beaters. Actually, with Nigella that’s highly likely. But still.

Contrast this to the French patisserie chef on a Food Safari episode: he scraped out every last lick of his raspberry soufflé into the moulds. This was a man appreciating exquisite ingredients; he was not prepared to waste a drop. This was a business man, considering expenses and profits, who had paid for those ingredients; he couldn’t afford to discard a drop. Oh la la, I wanted to applaud.

When I was a child, I begged my mum to leave some batter in the bowl for me (and she did) but now that I am my own cook, I’m pretty diligent at gathering every last bit of batter and putting it into the oven. But there’s a difference between a little bit left behind and a whole slick of the stuff.

What about you? Do you scrape the bowl as clean as possible?
Nigella’s big chocolate cake
Adapted from her fudge cake in 'Nigella Bites'.
  • Prep a deep bundt cake tin and preheat your oven to 180.
  • In a measuring jug, combine 3 eggs, 150 mls sour cream, and 2 tspns vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, combine 400 gms plain flour, 350 gms light brown sugar, 50 gms cocoa powder, 2 tspns baking powder, 1 tspn bicarb soda, and ½ tspn salt.
  • In a large bowl, beat together 175gms butter that’s been melted and cooled slightly, 125 mls light olive oil, and 300 mls water. A free standing mixer is good for this recipe.
  • Pour in the egg mixture and mix until combined.
  • Slow the mixer down and gradually add the dry ingredients, then give it a whiz faster until nicely smooth. It will look like divine chocolate mousse, but resist the urge to start eating it now.
  • Pour every last bit into your bundt tin; I also needed some cupcake papers (Nigella’s original recipe specified two 20 cm round tins, but I wanted the drama of my bundt).
  • Bake for 45 minutes or so until done (about half that for any cupcakes). Allow to cool in tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, melt 100 gms of dark eating chocolate (the 70% stuff). Stir into this 125 gms butter , ½ tbspn vanilla, and 140 gms icing sugar. Now taste: I always adjust frostings a little, more icing sugar or vanilla, depending on how sweet my tastebuds are inclined that day.
  • Daub and swirl all over the cake and enjoy.

16 comments:

  1. Oh, I definitely scrape the bowl. Like you I can't bear waste and think exactly the same when I watch TV cooks leaving such a lot of mixture behind in the bowl.

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    1. it's great to hear from a fellow bowl-scraper, linda ;-) glad i'm nto the only one who fumes at the telly!

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  2. I completely agree with you! I can't stand waste and I have also noticed the amount of waste with some of these television shows. Wastage is somehow seen as normal and it's not ok!

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    1. thanks for your thoughts, jem - I really did wonder if I was the only one who noticed these things. it's so NOT okay to leave enough for another cupcake behind in the bowl!

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  3. I, too, hate waste... and, like you, find myself thinking about the wasted bits and pieces on cooking shows. Lovely recipe. xxx

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    1. thank you lizzy - it's such an easy lovely recipe and perfect for feeding a crowd. i'm sure nigella went back and licked the bowl on this one :-)

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  4. Great thoughts e, I hate waste too. If I have a cooking fail I also really regret the waste of perfectly good ingredients. Not long ago I baked some biscuits that just refused to 'set', they remained soft and crumbly and completely inedible as a biscuit. But, I couldn't stand to throw them out so we crumbled them over ice-cream and they were delicious.

    Your cake looks incredible, especially in that beautiful bundt shape. Happy cooking to you.

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    1. it's one of may favourite tins, jane, it is beautifully fluted (beneath all that frosting!).
      my last resort if something can't be saved is to give it to mum's chooks. they are not quite as fussy, and they give lovely large eggs in return!

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  5. I think just the same when I watch TV chefs. It may also explain why I sometimes have trouble fitting all the cake mixture into the baking tin.
    I'm definitely a scraper out of bowls, though the last little bit on the spatula is the cook's perk.

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    1. anne, you are so right - that might explain why one sometimes needs to make a few cupcakes with the extra batter!
      oh yes, I definitely agree, there must be just enough for the cook - it's part of the quality assurance process :-)

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  6. Who doesn't lick the bowl and beaters clean?! I mean seriously...Hubby and I fight over them ;)

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    1. it brings out the five year old in all of us!

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  7. Love a Nigella chocolate cake recipe - I'll try this one. I was (and am still am) a batter reserver and eater. So is J. I reckon Nigella is too. I hear you on food waste - think of how much is wasted on the reality food shows. I feel disgusted when I see contestants using (butchering) just one piece of a whole chook and discarding the rest. And when you read news articles saying that the show's staff actually remake all dishes for tasting...it's disgusting (but I still shamefully watch these shows....)

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    1. i had no idea about the remaking - really?! no. that's shocking! i'd heard the judges eat the dishes cold, as they have to do so many filming takes... but other cooks cooking the contestants' food? that's outrageous.
      yup, i'm sure nigella's TV crew don't get much of a chance to lick the bowls, she would definitely be keeping it to herself!

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  8. That is such a good looking cake! I'm with you on this subject - I get really cross when I see bowls not being scraped clean or ingredients wasted. My sister signed me up for a trial box from a company that sends the exact ingredients to make 3 meals with no waste - it was brilliant from that viewpoint (there was just a half a chilli and some sundried tomatoes left, both of which I used up later) plus I got to cook three new-to-me meals. Such a good idea, although slightly on the pricey side. I'm now using their recipes for inspiration!

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    1. hi caro! wow, that trial box sounds like a great way of kick starting some kitchen inspiration! you could test new ideas and ingredients without committing to a whole packet of a spice you might never use again. pricey but thrifty? clever.

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