Hygge, Baking and Nigel Slater
The spiced sweet notes of mulled wine work beautifully with dark chocolate in this festive Bundt cake. I've played around with the idea of a red wine chocolate cake in my head for the past few years and never got round to trying it, but last weekend, I fancied a bit of festive faffing and this was the result.
The soundtrack to my Sunday baking session was Nigel Slater's podcast The Christmas Chronicles, which if you haven't already discovered, is deliciously evocative of the season. His book of the same title (which if you love Nigel Slater or Christmas, is a must-read), contains the following passage which sums up the spirit of mulled wine perfectly:
"It's 6:30pm, you are weaving your way through the crowd with their earmuffs and scarves, reindeer hats and woollen mittens, trying to get to the south end of the market, where women in white aprons are baking flatbreads with onions and ham. You manoeuvre your way past huddles of office workers and students, shoppers and tourists clutching steaming mugs...
The air is all ice and spice. Chilly enough to need your scarf, yet warm with cinnamon and aniseed and the deep grapey notes of red wine that has been simmering in cauldrons with spirits and cloves...The mixture of steaming red wine, warm cloves, cinnamon, allspice and star anise is the very essence of Christmas. I know of few other drinks that so accurately tell you the time of year in one sip."
275g unsalted butter, diced
50ml orange juice
75ml mulled wine
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
150g dried cherries
275g dark chocolate roughly chopped
400g light muscovado sugar
5 medium eggs
275g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade , fan 150 degrees centigrade or gas mark 3.
Grease a 24cm diameter bundt tin or ring mould (about 2.5 litre capacity) with melted butter or spray oil. My Christmas tree Bundt tin is 26cm diameter, and the cake mix filled it perfectly, so there is a little tolerance on diameter.
Put the orange juice, wine and brandy in a large pan with the spices and cherries, and simmer without bringing to the boil; remove from the heat.
Add the butter and chocolate and return to a low heat until melted. Stir in the sugar; beat to dissolve lumps. Cool until you can put your finger comfortably in the mixture.
Break the eggs into a jug and whisk with a fork, then beat into the chocolate mixture.
Stir in the flour and baking powder until it makes a smooth batter.
Pour the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
Bake for around an hour, but trust your nose - if you get that delicious baked cake smell wafting out of your oven before the time is up, check it with a skewer. Chocolate cake has a tendency to catch and go dry if slightly overdone.
The cake should be firm and springy and a skewer should have a few damp crumbs sticking to it.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then carefully run a palette knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Make sure you also loosen the cake from the central funnel before turning out on to a wire rack.
Leave to cool completely.
Gently dust with icing sugar for a simple snowy effect or you could drizzle with chocolate glaze - glaze recipe below.
150g chocolate (dark or white)
150ml double cream
3 tbsp golden syrup
Gently heat the cream and the golden syrup in a pan until just before boiling point.
Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Leave for a minute then stir until smooth.
Set aside for 5 minutes for glaze to thicken.
Drizzle over top and sides of the cake.