Nigella Lawson's Dark and Sumptuous Vegan Chocolate Cake

March 21, 2021
11 Ratings
Photo by Keiko Oikawa
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 10-12 slices
Author Notes

This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson and is a part of Food52's Bake Off benefitting No Kid Hungry. It's her chocolate cake of choice for people where dietary restrictions are not an issue. "I don’t even need to explain it’s vegan," she says. "No need to offer explanations. You just need to offer the cake. On top of everything else, it’s incredibly simple to make."

FREEZE NOTE: 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. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water from a recently boiled kettle
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil (90ml)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon edible rose petals
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 5 tablespoons coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)
  • 1/4 cup soft dark sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids, see Intro), finely chopped
  1. Start with the icing, though first preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C 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 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 unsweetened cocoa in a bowl, and fork to mix.
  4. Mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil, and vinegar 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Vickie Shen
    Vickie Shen
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  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
  • Lisa David
    Lisa David

11 Reviews

Ginger B. January 10, 2021
No where in the directions does it say to grease the springform pan. I am googling to try to figure this out. Most recipes state if it's a greased or ungreased pan.
Rosalind P. March 21, 2021
Use a regular cake pan lined with parchment. "Leakproof" springform...always iffy.

Vickie S. December 14, 2020
The texture of the cake is not light and fluffy. It’s more on the fudgy side.
JKF I. December 14, 2019
The cake worked nicely, but the frosting separated, possibly because some of the chocolate I used was 64% (she says at least 70%). I had to do it over again and used butter rather than the coconut butter just to be safe. It's lovely.
Manjari September 12, 2018
I don't have springform, will normal cake pan do ?
Janet June 19, 2018
I don't have an 8" springform pan; mine is 9". Would an 8" square pan do? Or some other size?
MattieK October 10, 2017
This cake was so delicious and freezes so well--only gets fudgier with time.
Marty June 25, 2017
Anyone know the size of the springform for this?
Lisa D. June 28, 2017
Per Nigella's website, "20cm/8in round springform cake tin." Good luck!
Gabriella June 22, 2017
I also would like to know what can be substituted for the coconut butter and oil. Does anyone know?
Lisa D. June 28, 2017
Nigella says, "My version has coconut oil in the cake, and coconut butter in the icing, but of course you can use vegetable oil in the cake, and vegan margarine for the icing if you prefer."