Nigella’s Vegan Chocolate Cake

Nigella's Vegan Chocolate Cake

This Nigella Lawson recipe was recommended to me by a friend (thanks Angela) who is a vegetarian but not a vegan.  She says it is her favourite chocolate cake and she is not alone in that.

Nigella calls this her “Dark and Sumptuous” chocolate cake and describes it as her “go to” chocolate cake recipe for everyone.  She doesn’t even bother to tell them that it is vegan unless they need it to be.  Anyone who knows Nigella’s cooking knows that she loves uncompromisingly decadent food and this cake makes no compromises whatsoever.

I have already posted a vegan chocolate cake recipe but I thought this one was worth a try too and I am so glad I gave it a go.  It is deeply chocolatey, incredibly rich and torte-like and, well, just plain delicious really.  It also keeps exceptionally well, I made this one 4 days ago and it is still every bit as moist now as it was on day one.

The recipe uses coconut butter.  Please note that this is not the same as coconut oil.  I found it in a good health food shop but, if you can’t get it you can either use any vegan margarine or you can make your own coconut butter by blitzing dried (not desiccated or sweetened) coconut flakes in a food processor.

If you are making this for a vegan please make sure that the cocoa powder and chocolate that you use contain no dairy whatsoever.

I have reproduced Nigella’s recipe faithfully here but, as my kitchen is quite cold, I found that the icing had set too hard by time the cake was baked and cooled.  However, I managed to re-warm it a little (over some hot water) whilst beating it with a wooden spoon; it was soon restored to a spreading consistency and it was still glossy so no need to panic if this happens to you.

You can top it with anything you like (or indeed with nothing at all) but I liked the look of the pistachios and rose petals that Nigella used and, as I had both in the cupboard, I went with them.  I used salted pistachios because I like to offset the slight saltiness against the rich sweetness of chocolate.  I suspect it would be wonderful topped with raspberries too – either fresh or freeze dried so, next time I make it…


Nigella's Vegan Chocolate Cake


225g / 8 oz Plain Flour

1½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

½ tsp Sea Salt

1½ tsp Instant Espresso Powder

75 g / 3 oz Cocoa

300 g / 11 oz Soft Dark Brown Sugar

375 ml / ½ Pint Hot Water from a recently boiled kettle

75 g / 3 oz Coconut Oil (90ml)

1½ tsp Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar

1 tbsp Edible Rose Petals

1 tbsp Chopped Pistachios

For the Icing

60 ml / 2 fl oz Cold Water

75 g / 3 oz Coconut Butter (this is not the same as oil)

50 g / 2 oz soft dark sugar

1½ tsp Instant Espresso Powder

1½ tbsp Cocoa

150 g / 5 oz Dark Chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids), chopped

You will need a 20cm/8in round springform cake tin.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and pop in a baking sheet at the same time.

Start with the icing.  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 – and 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.  Give the icing a stir with a spatula every now and again.

Line the bottom of your springform cake tin (you will need a good, leak-proof one as this is a very wet batter) with baking parchment.

Put the flour, bicarb, salt and instant espresso and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix.

Mix together the sugar, hot water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients.  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.

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.

Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.

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.

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, sumptuous. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.