Thursday 3 December 2009

Christening Cake

We held Sylvia’s christening in Edinburgh on the weekend. I do not advise planning a christening over the other side of the world. It is a stressful business and you need a very helpful sister-in-law to pull it off. But if you do attempt such an event, I highly recommend making Nigella Lawson’s Nutella Cake for the occasion.

We decided a long time ago that it would be nice to hold Sylvia’s christening in Edinburgh to include her Scottish relatives and family friends in a significant event in her life. Not having been in Scotlnd for a few years, it was also a good opportunity to catch up with everyone. Fortunately a family friend, Fr Robin, helped us arrange the christening and E’s sister HH helped organize refreshments afterwards.

So on Saturday, we dressed Sylvia in her tartan dress, stripey purple tights and white crocheted cardigan and took her to the church. It was quite an overwhelming occasion to see so many faces we had not seen for years but so lovely that many could come to meet Sylvia and be part of her special day.

I was pleased to have some family present because my sister Chris came from Dublin with her partner, Fergal and little boy, Dash. It was fun to see the two babies meeting for the first time. Dash has a cheeky grin and made many attempts to grab at his little cousin, Sylvia. She also made a grab or two for him but his hair isn’t as long as mine so it doesn’t make for such enjoyable tugging!

The church is a beautiful nineteenth century building near where we are staying. It has recently been renovated and has warm red walls and colourful stained glass windows. The service, conducted by Fr Robin, was lovely and welcoming. I loved how he encouraged us to eat together as a family and live a life of justice and peace. E's childhood friend, Douglas, played guitar and his nephew Barney filled the font with water. Sylvia was well behaved with only a small cry when the water trickled over her hair.

Afterwards we went to the Braidburn Inn for refreshments. The sausage rolls and sandwiches were said to be very good. I enjoyed a bit of quiche but was too busy to eat much. The food was very good and the staff were just great. Nothing was a problem for them.

I took along a chocolate cake because it seemed the easiest way to ensure we had the sort of cake I wanted there. Chris and I cut it into slices and passed it around with a little jug of cream. By the end of the cake, the slices were very thin but I was impressed that we were able to serve it up to about 30 adults plus kids. It was well received with E’s nephew Barney declaring it to be the best chocolate cake. Now there is a kid with good taste.

It is a sign of how well-stocked our apartment is that I was able to bake this cake with ease. I liked the recipe because even though I could not find ground hazelnuts, the ingredients were easy to find and buy without having lots leftover. The fan forced oven was a joy to bake in and I enjoyed using old fashioned egg beaters to beat the egg whites.

For the decoration, I made grubs because they are a sentimental favourite with my family and I bought berries. The berries are not local – having been flown in from South Africa, Mexico and Spain – but the extravagance seemed justified for a special event. (Although HH told me that berries on the cake spoilt the calorific feast.) Such a simple and delicious way to make a cake look amazing, helped along by a cheap plate from the supermarket.

I was really pleased with the final cake and just a little sad not to have any leftovers to take home.

Nigella’s Nutella Cake
From Nigella’s Website or How to be a Domestic Goddess

  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 400g Nutella (1 large jar)
  • 100g ground hazelnuts (I used ground almonds)
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water (I used baby puree)
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt

To decorate:

  • 125ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • Berries (I used raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • Grubs or other truffles (mine were the size of a cherry)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease and line a 23cm round springform cake tin.

Melt chocolate in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl beat together butter and nutella till creamy. Add frangelico (or liquid of your choice), egg yolks and hazelnuts. Then mix in the melted chocolate.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl (I used a medium one and it was ok but a large bowl would be better as the egg whites expand with beating) until soft peaks appear. Stir a spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture, being as rough as you like. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites, a third at a time.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. It is ready when the cake is coming away from the sides but this cake is better a little underbaked and fudgy in the centre than too dry. Cool cake in tin.

To decorate: Nigella suggests leaving the base of the springform tin on the bottom when decorating but I was able to remove mine. When cool, I made chocolate ganache by melting the chocolate with the cream and cooling a little. Then I spread it over the cake and down the sides. I arranged grubs around the bottom and the top of the cake. When ready to serve the next day, we arranged berries on top with a dusting of icing sugar.

On the Stereo:
Forever: Dame Shirley Bassey (free with the Daily Mail)


  1. Congratulations on such a beautiful event and such a major moment in Sylvia's life! Your photos of the church are gorgeous... and oh my goodness, I am in AWE of your cake! It's truly a work of art that belongs in a museum! I'm so impressed with the frosting and decorations - you are very, very talented indeed!

  2. Congratulations.

    The extravagant Nutella cake truly marked the occasional well.

  3. Thanks Astra - glad you loved the cake - I thought it looked pretty good for something that was so easy (which is all I could manage away from home)

    Thanks Mangocheeks - nothing like a decadent cake to make an occasion feel special

  4. What a stunning event (and cake)! So great that you could see your sister and the little cousins could meet for the first time! And I bet your Scottish side of the family will never forget the occasion, either. Lovely! :)

  5. That looks amazing Johanna. I am now doubly sad that I missed the occasion. You will have to email me a photo of Sylvia in her outfit, bet she looked very cute :)

    Baby still holding on in there.

  6. Thanks Taz, it was

    Thanks Ricki - it was indeed a special day which will be remembered by Sylvia's Scottish family and will be a nice link for her to her Scottish heritage

    Thanks Jacqueline - am sure that baby wants to get out - just a shame you couldn't make christening!

  7. Congratulations on Sylvia's christening - it looks like you had a beautiful day and lovely surroundings for it.

    I'm so impressed with the cake - it looks fantastic and suitably decadent and especially impressed that you can make such a lovely cake away from home - I like to have all my own equipment around me to bake!

  8. Thanks C - I don't normally cook when away from home but this apartment is well equipped - I wasn't sure what I could do til I got here - roasted vegetables today and the oven did it twice as fast as mine at home!!!

  9. What a beautiful cake!! Looks delicious. I love that you decorated them with more treats (the grubs - which also sound delicious.)


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