• Dessert

Nigella Lawson's Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake

  • 20 MINS
  • |
  • 35 MINS
  • |
  • SERVES 10-12
A fudgy chocolate cake from home-cooking legend, Nigella Lawson. This cake, from her book 'Simply Nigella', is decadent, joyful and...vegan!
Nigella Lawson's Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake


  • - 225 grams plain flour
  • - 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • - ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • - 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • - 75 grams cocoa
  • - 300 grams soft dark brown sugar
  • - 90ml or 75 grams coconut oil or flavourless vegetable oil such as sunflower oil
  • - 1½ teaspoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • - 1 tablespoon edible rose petals
  • - 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
  • - 75 grams coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)
  • - 50 grams soft dark sugar
  • - 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • - 1½ tablespoons cocoa
  • - 150 grams dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids, see Intro), finely chopped


  1. Start with the icing, though first preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/gas mark 4 and pop in a baking sheet at the same time. Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan, add 60ml/¼ cup cold water, and bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved. Then turn off the heat — but leave the pan on the hob — then quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan so that it is all underwater, so to speak. Leave for a scant minute, then whisk until you have a darkly glossy icing, and leave to cool. I find this takes exactly the amount of time the cake takes to make, cook and cool. But do give the icing a stir with a spatula every now and again.
  2. Line the bottom of your springform cake tin (you will need a good, leakproof one as this is a very wet batter) with baking parchment.
  3. Put the flour, bicarb, salt and instant espresso and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix.
  4. Mix together the sugar, coconut oil, vinegar, and 375ml/1½ cups hot water from a recently boiled kettle, until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Though do check at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done.
  5. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs. This is a fudgy cake and you don't want to overdo it.
  6. Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.
  7. Turn to your icing, and give it a good stir with a spatula to check it is at the right consistency. It needs to be runny enough to cover the cake, but thick enough to stay (mostly) on the top. So pour over the unmoulded cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed.
  8. If you wish to decorate, now is the time to do it. In which case, sprinkle joyously with rose petals and chopped pistachios or anything else that your heart desires; otherwise, leave it gleaming darkly and, indeed, sumptuously. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

Store in an airtight container (or under a cake dome) at room temperature for up to 5 days.

The cake can be made ahead and frozen, without icing. When cool, carefully wrap cake in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap and place on a serving plate at room temperature for 3–4 hours.

Photo credit - Keika Oikawa