I love chocolate, so it makes sense that I also love chocolate cake. I’d say it’s my favourite cake going, but it has to be just right – not too sticky, not too dry; not too gooey, not too crumbly. It has to be light enough to enjoy with a cuppa when I don’t want to feel guilty, but decadent enough to have warm with a dollop of thick cream for those days when nothing else will do. Finally, I found the perfect chocolate cake. And, guess what? I made it at home.
This chocolate cake recipe belongs to Nigella Lawson (well, of course – the queen of indulgence), it’s from her Nigellissima cookbook. I haven’t made anything else from this book but there are certainly a few more desserts I’d like to try, and the pasta dishes look delicious too. It’s a cookbook for enjoying, for treating yourself and those around you, and it brings to mind those scenes in Nigella’s shows where she has a handful of friends ’round for supper’, and they’re all blurred, laughing with each other beneath a canopy of fairy lights and twinkling glasses elegantly filled with wine. It’s a recipe book that I would use for dinner parties, but having had few of those in recent years, I decided to try it out purely for my own enjoyment in the kitchen. I’m glad I did, as I’ve now made this cake three times during lockdown and it’s fast becoming a signature pudding for me – the recipe is easy and thanks to the olive oil, it’s milk-free, so I can even let Kittie have a taste. (If you don’t have gluten, you can replace the flour with almonds, which I’ve yet to try.)
I whipped this little treat up in 15 minutes, plus the 40 minutes baking time.However, I kept wondering why my batter kept dripping through my springform cake tin – mum showed me that I was using the base upside down so the sides weren’t clipping in properly. Insert eye roll emoji here please. Now I have to make another cake, just to see if she’s right. Excuses, excuses, eh?
Scroll down for the recipe and let me know if you try it out.
150ml regular olive oil plus more for greasing
50g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
125ml boiling water
2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
150g ground almonds or 125g plain flour (I used the flour)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
Preheat your oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Grease a 22 or 23cm springform cake tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds or flour with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.