Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

By • December 11, 2012 • 55 Comments



Author Notes: On creating this cake, Nigella Lawson explains, "I remember very strongly wanting to create what we call a loaf cake -- and what is generally called a pound cake Stateside -- that had a richness and squidginess of texture that this form of cake normally doesn't major in." And she did. Recipe adapted very slightly from How to Be A Domestic Goddess (Hyperion, 2005)Genius Recipes

Makes 8-10 slices

  • 1 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F, put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later, and grease and line a 9x5-inch loaf pan. The lining is important as this is a very damp cake: use parchment or one of those loaf-pan-shaped paper liners.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand-held mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next, fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined: You don't want a light, airy mass.
  3. Then gently add the flour, to which you've added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. (Note: Don't let this batter come closer than 1 inch from the rim of the cake pan or it risks overflowing. Pour any excess into a smaller cake or muffin pan.)
  4. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.
  5. Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out. (I often leave it for a day or so: like gingerbread, it improves.) Don't worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do so because it's such a dense and damp cake.
From Our Friends
powered by ZergNet

Comments (55) Questions (2)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

2 months ago Gotowanie Girl

I made this cake taking into account previous comments. I subbed 1/3c cocoa powder for part of the flour and made with coffee instead of water. It came out wonderful! I served the cake with berries and fresh whippped cream. It was a huge hit. Thank you!

Stringio

5 months ago carolyn.carney1

I just made (and ate) this cake, like some others I subbed 1/3flour with cocoa and added 2 to 3 oz more chocolate, I am not a cake maker but I have to say this is one of the richest, moist and at the same time most extremely light chocolate cakes I have ever had, it is half way between a mousse and a cake, absolutely delicious, we served it with a raspberry purée sauce and vanilla ice cream, only because I didn't have any heavy cream.

3896914918_0414b3531b

5 months ago Rachel Marie

I've made this twice now, but I've adapted it so much I'm not sure it even counts as the same recipe. I reduced the brown sugar to 1 cup, increased the chocolate to 5 oz., replaced 1/3 cup of the flour with natural cocoa powder, added a pinch of kosher salt, and replaced the water with stout (this one which is brewed with molasses: http://www.beeradvocate...).
I took it to a dinner party, and it went over very well with Philadelphia style vanilla ice cream topped with raw cocoa nibs and blackberries.

Default-small

about 1 month ago Ami

Very interesting that you used stout. Did you warm it up before you added it, or did you added it cold?

Default-small

5 months ago Elizabeth

AWESOME!!! I too made a few changes…used 1/3 c. less sugar, substituted 1/4 cocoa for flour, added 1/2 tsp. salt and used 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. Perfection!

Stringio

7 months ago Annerieke Willemze

i only have salted butter - did anyone give that a try? i'm thinking it will go well with the chocolate!

Default-small

7 months ago Sugar n Spice by Radhika

Salted butter goes really well with chocolate.. I always put salted bitter in my chocolate ganache and it turns out great! I'm sure it'll taste great in cakes too. If you'd like more recipes, you can visit my blog.. http://www.sugarnspicebyradhika...

Picture_053

3 months ago Paula Zevin

Slated butter tends to have more water than unsalted one. You may want to add another scant tablespoon of flour to the recipe. The taste will be good.

Bad_girl

9 months ago alamesa

I've made this a few times now and it always turns out well. I always use less sugar, (1 cup) and a little less butter 200g instead of 226g and 6oz instead of 4oz dark chocolate. Served with a dollop of creme fraiche. I also add a little powdered ginger to the dry ingredients. Delicious!

3896914918_0414b3531b

5 months ago Rachel Marie

Oh, I love the idea of adding a little ginger!

Stringio

10 months ago enthous

I was a little reticent about this but gave it a try. I don't like very sweet things, cannot tolerate light, sweet chocolate, so I made a few changes as suggested by previous reviewers. I cut 1/3c of sugar (used 1 1/3c) and replaced 1/3C flour with raw cacao powder. I didn't want to go overboard and I think I succeeded. I was not too sweet, and not such a chocolate wallop that the other favors didn't come through. The texture is really unique: moister than a poundcake, cakier than a brownie. The crunchy top is wonderful. Also, since I didn't see any acid in the cake other than the acidity of the chocolate itself, I questioned the use of b soda so I used baking powder rather than soda. It worked fine, but I have no idea how that affected the texture. It sank, but not that much. Next time, and yes, there will be a next time, I'll probably brave the soda. I served it with sweetened whipped cream, definitely a nice addition.

Stringio

10 months ago enthous

Also added 1/4 tsp salt, which I liked.

Me

about 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Fingers crossed. Made it this afternoon, and going to cut into it tomorrow for my husband's birthday. It looks like a big brownie :-)

Default-small

about 1 year ago Penelope_B

Made it this afternoon and it was divine. Loaf was moist, yet dense, with crisp edges. Very very yummy and went down well with the family.

Default-small

over 1 year ago ELLA

THIS IS THE BEST CAKE EVER!!!!! I Make it a few times a month, as a matter of fact, my butter is softening now, it is so moist and spongy you can hear it when you eat it. I love the fact that you can taste all the ingredients, this cake is the real deal.

P1040236

over 1 year ago Moogers

Great cake.. I used 6 oz chocolate instead of 4, used 1/3 cup less sugar, and substituted 1/4 cup flour with cocoa powder. Would've been perfect if I used 1/4 cup less butter, and used water as instructed instead of coffee.

Bad_girl

over 1 year ago alamesa

I doubled the amount of chocolate (70% dark Lindt naughty goodness) and less sugar and butter than recipe suggests. Baked for a few minutes longer than suggested too. Unbeatable!!

My_catering_(2)

over 1 year ago Aliwaks

This looks fabulous! Oddly I do not own a loaf pan (I thought I did , no idea where it could have gone)..any suggests for alternate cooking vessel

Default-small

over 1 year ago susanm

this cake is incredible! i, of course, tweaked as well. added a package of starbucks via to the boiling water, added the zest of one orange, doubled the melted chocolate and used less sugar. BUT, it's still the recipe and it's AMAZING. thanks nigella, and thanks food52 for posting. BTW, just had a leftover nibble out of the fridge...i might like it better cold!

Img_0472

over 1 year ago darksideofthespoon

I loved this, but I did tweak it. I subbed the water with old coffee, since that's what I pretty much always do with chocolate cake. I also replaced a portion of the flour with cocoa powder. This recipe is irresistible.

Port2

over 1 year ago nogaga

Just to add my experience: I made this cake in the form os small ramequins as a desert for dinner. I am a chocolate lover but the only change I made was to add a pinch of espelette pepper flakes and about a tsp of mace. It was fabulous! Great texture, great taste, not ugly at all ;) I can't say the leftover ramequins on the following days were better, but they were definitely as good as the first. I loved this.

Default-small

over 1 year ago erinmalone

I took the advice of some others reviewers and made some substitutions with great success! I used half Muscovado sugar and half regular dark brown sugar (I had to combine as I didn't have enough of either), doubled the chocolate to 8 oz., used salted butter (again, all I had), and substituted 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder for 1/4 cup flour. I also used leftover coffee from yesterday morning instead of water. The cake is divine ... I couldn't wait till it cooled completely so there's some areas where I just picked big flakes off the top, which were soon hidden by the slumping & buckling of the cake. Wonderful intense chocolate flavor without being overly sweet (very similar to Cooks Illustrated Dark Chocolate Cupcakes).

Default-small

4 months ago icuqt3.14

Ha ha...is this you from Chicago?

Bad_girl

over 1 year ago alamesa

Made this recently and I'm making it again today. Was delicious, gooey and very ugly but who cares?! This time will add double the amount of chocolate though and cook for a few minutes longer just so it's less messy when slicing up.

Image

over 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I've ben dying to make this cake since you posted the recipe. I made it today and it's...ok. Really the first Genius recipe I've made that I haven't been crazy about. I did like the squidgy texture, and it was super easy. (If you line your loaf pan with foil as Maida Heatter writes about in her wonderful cookbooks, it depans easily.) I used my favorite chocolate, but it wasn't really chocolatey enough. (I should have read the comments about that...oh, well.) I thought it was a tad too sweet. I missed salt--I think it rounds out the flavors of sweet baked goods. And I usually add a little espresso powder to chocolate cake, and I missed it here. Nothing that can't be made more to my taste, but still disappointing.

Miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Hi drbabs, I hope you taste it again tomorrow (and the next day). A number of people think this cake should only be eaten after at least a day. (Though I'm not entirely in agreement -- I love the crusty edges on day 1.) Hope you like it more then!

Image

over 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I will! (Today's my birthday--it's my birthday cake!) I'll let you know.

Miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Happy Birthday!! Now it really better live up. And if it doesn't -- maybe ganache or whipped cream with creme fraiche will help.

Default-small

over 1 year ago Nomnomnom

I had the same experience when I first made this about a year ago. I just made it again last week after seeing this post, thinking I should give it another try, but with a bit of interference on my part. It turned out really well, with a nice cripsy top that contrasted well with the sqidgy interior. These were my substitutions: 1/2 c. espresso :) and 1/2 c. hot water (total 1 cup); 1 c. flour and 1/3 cup cocoa powder.

Image

over 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

It was a bit better the next day--but I would definitely add coffee and salt. My co-workers, however, loved it and have requested the recipe.

Parmigiano-reggiano_gal

over 1 year ago PRST

I thought the cake/loaf was lovely. I did not think it was meant to be a dense chocolate, chocolate cake. The texture is simply said-awesome, along with the meld of flavors. There are plenty of dense, extreme chocolate cake recipes out there. I love this recipe's subtleness- chocolaty without being in your face. I love how the chocolate flavor blends with the brown sugar. I love how the loaf develops flavor with time. Kudo's to Nigella for a recipe that will stand the test of time! The quality of the ingredients would certainly affect the results of a recipe like this.