Nigella Lawson’s – Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake by Nigella Lawson

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

This featured ‘Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake’ recipe is taken from Nigella Lawson’s website and features in her book ‘Feast’ – ‘Food that Celebrates Life’.

Please don’t be confused with by the photo that includes the ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ recipe book, I just like looking through it when I bake.

Nigella Lawson's - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Five reasons you should bake this chocolate cake:

  1. It’s really chocolatey
  2. And finger licking
  3. It’s lip smacking
  4. And easy to bake
  5. It’s Nigella Lawson’s recipe.

Further Reading: The Fast 800 Chocolate Kidney Bean Cake – Simple & Tasty

Nigella Lawson – Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Recipe


For the cake:

  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 40 grams best-quality cocoa powder
  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 150ml sour cream

For the icing:

  • 75 grams unsalted butter
  • 175 grams best quality dark chocolate (broken into small pieces)
  • 300 grams icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 125ml sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sugar flowers (optional)


Baking the Chocolate Cake

Nigella Lawson's - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

  1. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge before you start.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF
  3. Line and butter two 20cm / 8 inch sandwich tins with removable bases.
  4. Put all the cake ingredients flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into a food processor.
  5. Process until you have a smooth, thick batter. Nigella recommends the following should you want to go ‘the long way around and do it by hand’ or if you don’t have a food processor ‘mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.’
  6. Using a rubber spatula scrape and spread the cake batter evenly into the prepared tins and bake until a ‘cake tester’ or a thin skewer comes out clean – this should take about 35 minutes, but check at 25 minutes just in case. Another tip from Nigella is to ‘remember to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.’
  7. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes before turning them out of their tins. Cracks that appear can be easily covered by the icing later.

Nigella Lawson's - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Making the Icing

  1. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl. You can do this in the microwave, but my preferred method is by suspending the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Take it slow so as not to burn the mixture.
  2. Let the chocolate and butter cool a little.
  3. Meanwhile sieve the icing sugar into different bowl.
  4. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then whisk in the sieved icing sugar. If you’re using a food processor add the icing sugar first to remove any lumps and then pour the golden syrup and cooled chocolate down the funnel on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.
  5. When the golden syrup, chocolate and icing sugar has been mixed you might need to add a teaspoon of boiling water or more icing sugar, depending on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker. Nigella recommends that the right consistency is found when it’s ‘liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.’

Nigella Lawson's - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Icing the Chocolate Cake

  1. The next step is to choose where your cake will sit, either on a cake stand or a plate. To stop the icing running on the plate, cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it. Sit the uppermost cake on it, slightly domed side down.
  2. Spoon a third of the icing onto the centre of the cake half and spread it out with a knife or spatula until it’s evenly covered.
  3. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up and press gently to sandwich the two together.
  4. Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake. Spread it in whatever finish you’d like – textured or smooth.
  5. Spread the remaining icing around the sides of the cake and leave to set for a few minutes.
  6. Carefully pull away the paper strips.
  7. Decorate how you’d like – sugar flowers optional but I recommend them because they’re pretty.
  8. Enjoy!

Nigella Lawson's - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Final Verdict:

If you like chocolate cake. You will love this. It is so easy to make and if you have a food processor it is even easier. I didn’t have mine the first time I made it but it turned out great, however using one since has been … how should I say it?, a piece of cake?

Best Tips:

Switching the cake tins around in the oven will ensure the perfect cake. And do make sure the cake is cool before adding the icing.

PIN: Nigella Lawson’s – Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

The Life of Stuff - Nigella Lawson's - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Nigella Lawson - Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

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