Baking day number two and thank you to the girls for leaving me alone for most of the afternoon. Their bedroom is a complete tip but it's a small price to pay.
I decided to do a chocolate chestnut cake. Ordinarily I would use Nigella's recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess which is one of my favourites. But it is very rich indeed and I fancied trying something slightly different.
The Ballymaloe book has a simpler recipe. To Nigella's 9 ingredients (chestnut puree, butter, vanilla extract, dark rum, eggs, melted chocolate, salt, two types of sugar) there are only 4 in the cake itself (chocolate, chestnut puree, eggs and sugar). The Ballymaloe book also adds icing to the cake but I've decided I won't to mine.
The method was similar but because the cake has no butter in it, it came together much more easily and produced a more liquid and smoother batter. One tip was to put the purée through a mouli first and this made it much easier to work. The other main difference is that the eggs and most of the sugar are beaten together first until they are light and fluffy giving a much lighter texture to the cake. My one quibble with this cake is that it tastes much much sweeter than Nigella's and that's not a good thing. Nigella's is dark and rich and actually not very sweet at all. Darina's is lighter, with a less dense texture but could do with at least 75g of sugar being taken out to let the flavour of chocolate and chestnut dominate. I shall fiddle with the recipe and try again. I'm pretty sure you could come up with an amalgam of both which took the simplicity and lightness of the Ballymaloe recipe and the dark, sophisticated flavour of Nigella's.
Chocolate Chestnut Cake
110g (4oz) dark chocolate chopped
200g (7oz) unsweetened chestnut purée
4 organic eggs, separated
200g (7oz) caster sugar
20cm (8in) loose-based tin
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4
Grease the tin liberally. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot, but not boiling, water. Pass the chestnut purée through a mouli or food processor to loosen its texture. It tends to be very compressed straight out of the tin, and you will be able to mix it into the other ingredients better if this is done.
Place the 4 yolks and 2/3 of the sugar into the bowl of a mixer, and beat at high speed for 3-5 minutes, until it is very light and fluffy. By hand, whisky the egg whites until they are firm and shiny, and whisk in the rest of the sugar. Continue to whisk for another 30-60 seconds, until they are glossy and stiff. Add the chestnut purée to the yolk mixture and mix in at low speed. Fold in the melted chocolate. Once it is well incorporated, fold in the egg whites by hand.
Pour into the greased springform, and place in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool before taking out of the tin.