I am an admirer of Nigella Lawson's books and cooking shows, and having met her once at a book signing, I think she is a lovely and gracious person as well. When she was in Melbourne again recently for a live chat, there was no question that I was going to be there:
Luckily, because I already had her autograph, I did not have to endure the book signing lines, which were absolute bedlam. People were lined up outside the door of the Town Hall and the line was snaking down the street.
Nigella's latest book is called Simply Nigella. Tim gave it to me for my birthday last year. While we were waiting for Nigella to appear at Nigella in Conversation, I was intrigued by a gorgeous looking chocolate cake that came onto the screen, which I thought was topped with blueberries. I subsequently discovered that it was actually a Liquorice and Blackcurrant Chocolate Cake, and the berries on top were blackcurrants. Apparently, the unusual flavour combination is meant to imitate sweets that Nigella enjoyed growing up.
Regular readers will know that I have an affinity for cakes that are slightly off the beaten track, so I had to make this cake. Getting liquorice powder was not easy, and I ended up having to buy it from eBay, and it was not cheap ($7 for the sachet).
The base cake is a delightful chocolate sponge-style cake, lightly flavoured with liquorice. Two layers are sandwiched together with blackcurrant jam (which I was surprised to find in the Woolworths Select range for a song), and topped with a fudgy chocolate and liquorice flavoured icing.
Here's my cake, all cut up at work:
This cake is so moist and delicious. The blackcurrant adds a tart zing to the cake. The liquorice flavour was really only barely there - it just leaves a slight heat on your palate, and is not really noticeable. That is a bonus for liquorice haters, but does make me wonder whether it was worth buying the liquorice powder!
I love liquorice, so now that I have the liquorice powder, I am going to tackle Linda Lomelino's Chocolate Liquorice Cake.