Christmas

Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

March 24, 2021
22 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

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Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes 8-10 slices
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
In This Recipe
Directions
  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. This recipe is likely to leave you with a bit of excess batter, so if you'd like to bake it off, have an additional mini loaf pan or muffin tin ready as well.
  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. (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 greased mini loaf pan or muffin pan and start testing for doneness at 20 minutes.)
  4. Bake the cake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325° F 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • nannydeb
    nannydeb
  • Erica Heinrich
    Erica Heinrich
  • Farhana Rahman
    Farhana Rahman
  • Kambria McLean
    Kambria McLean
  • Lauren Stygar
    Lauren Stygar
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

105 Reviews

Jenn C. March 24, 2021
This is the moistest, most flavorful chocolate cake I have never made. It’s like one of the chocolate cakes at chain restaurants that are super moist but ruined by layers of frosting. This will be on rotation at our house.
 
lndanielle2 March 8, 2021
Tried this as a loaf before and loved it. Easy and perfect texture. Has anyone tried making this in an 8-9" round cake pan? Curious how it came out. Thanks!
 
Mary H. January 6, 2021
Why does the "Cook Time" read "20minutes" when the directions
#4. say otherwise?
 
Kristen M. January 11, 2021
Thank you for catching this, Mary—I've updated the cook time.
 
Carina G. December 10, 2020
Followed this recipe to a T (except for using a larger loaf pan) and found the end product incredibly indulgent and delicious - however I might add another ounce or 2 of chocolate next time to make it even more indulgent.

I will be making this again
 
Carina G. December 10, 2020
Followed this recipe to a T (except for using a larger loaf pan) and found the end product incredibly indulgent and delicious - however I might add another ounce or 2 of chocolate next time to make it even more indulgent.

I will be making this again
 
nannydeb May 20, 2020
I've made this cake many times because my husband requests it often. Not much to look at since mine sinks in the middle every time, but we don't care! We now call it the "squidgy cake".
 
Amy K. November 25, 2020
Squidgy cake sounds great to me!!
 
Erica H. May 20, 2020
Followed exactly, it was amazing! And I’m cooking in high altitude. My 6 year old has requested it for his kindergarten celebration dinner, a month later... thank you for the recipe Nigella.
 
Farhana R. April 13, 2020
Excellent, thanks to the substitutions I made after reading the reviews. I doubled the chocolate, lessened the sugar, added instant coffee to the hot water, and added a pinch of salt. Divine perfection. Also, I topped with chocolate spread with melted white chocolate marbled in. It turned out so ridiculously gourmet, but again, only because of the substitutions. Be sure to use one of your wider loaf pans.
 
joannern87 April 5, 2020
Divine. I reduced sugar by a smidge and used dark chocolate. The chocolate flavor was not as pronounced as I would have liked. Regardless, it was delicious. Might try adding in cocoa nibs the next time for an added burst of chocolate.
 
lisagilbert March 9, 2020
Have repeatedly made this with 275g sugar instead of 375 and it works beautifully!
 
Rita August 12, 2019
The best cake and so easy to make. I didn’t substitute anything.
 
Nsosh April 25, 2019
Re. any comments on flavor... With chocolate, things will often taste flat without salt to pick up the chocolate's depth :) actually, this is also consistently true of sweet things.

My cake is in the oven now!!! The batter tasted awesome, we'll see how it turns out. Yay for #squidgy 😂
 
Kambria M. April 22, 2019
I made the recipe as-is. It was okay, but I didn't really taste much chocolate at all. The cake is very dense and fudgy, and I really liked the contrast between crunchy top layer and dense middle, but it lacked flavor and just seemed to taste like "sweet." I'm planning to try it with a chocolate sauce tonight just to see if it amps up the flavor. I would make it again, but I would definitely add 2 oz chocolate + 1/3 cup cocoa powder per the other reviews.
 
Frederick Z. December 29, 2019
I agree very little taste and bland
 
Lukshen January 26, 2020
What type of chocolate did you use? I use Valhrona 70% and this has been my family’s favorite chocolate cake for years.
 
Jenna H. November 25, 2020
I made this cake today with Callebaut bittersweet chocolate (high quality). I also had some concerns it wouldn't be chocolatey enough, and added 2T cocoa powder. Overall, it was disappointing. As another person said, it tasted sweet but not chocolatey. Yes, it was "squidgy," but otherwise ho-hum. I have had MUCH better chocolate cakes. I
 
SLFisher February 10, 2019
This was amazing! The recipe worked perfectly for me, with even the cook time spot on. This cake is moist and fudgy and delicious with nothing but a dusting of powdered sugar (and even that is unnecessary).
 
Amy March 6, 2018
I putthe extra batter in a separate pan, and it came out dry. Not fudgy, like I'd hoped. Next time I'll use one pan for sure!
 
Rebecca January 14, 2018
Lily, do you have a link to the recipe? This is KAREN Mordechai, correct? Would love to have the recipe!
 
Lauren S. November 11, 2017
The dense loaf recipe asks for only four ounces of chocolate, but looks like a "cup-&-a 1/2-but make it the whole bag of chocolate" recipe. What if this isn't found? It is great with ice cream warmed up. Thanks.
 
Andrea D. May 15, 2017
What a great, dense chocolate loaf cake. This recipe was my foundation for many tweaks (I know, so irritating to read a review from someone who didn't follow the recipe, isn't it?) in an effort to give my husband a low-carb treat, and it turned out better than I (and he) hoped. Subbed equal parts coconut flour and almond flour for the regular flour, used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup stevia baking sweetener for the 1 and 1/3 cup brown sugar brown sugar and used coffee instead of water. I also added a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vinegar (to boost baking soda leavening effect). A big, delicious hit! Even the carb-welcoming members of my family love it! Thanks, Food 52 and Nigella! ❤️
 
Rebecca October 18, 2017
Personally, I appreciate your gluten-free changes! To know what was done and if it worked is a gift! Now, to make it dairy-free...
 
Lily January 14, 2018
Check out Sunday Suppers — Rebecca Mordechai makes a dense chocolate loaf (she calls it a breakfast cake) and there’s no dairy! Just coconut oil, but I subbed MCT oil—it was delicious
 
vbak December 23, 2016
A definite favorite with me topped with syrupy chocolate mint ganache. Like gravy on mashed potatoes. YUM! Such a transformation from a light creamy chocolate color to a deep dark chocolate.







 
Jusika December 3, 2016
fwiw, I put the entire batter in a regular loaf pan, and didn't have any troubles!