Chocolate & Olive Oil Cake | Nigella Lawson’s Flourless Cake Recipe

One can never have too many chocolate cake recipes. Or too many chocolate cakes, for that matter. Though I am partial to buttercream and ganache, I thought this year, for my birthday, I’d eschew that and settle for something a little more ‘adult’ and pared down.

But oh-so-delicious! I was actually thinking about making a layer cake, or a Nutella cheesecake, but then I was flipping channels on TV and saw Nigella Lawson whip this up on her new-(ish) series Nigellissima. It’s so easy, so dense and so delicious.

chocolate olive oil cake top view

The olive oil makes it moist and rich, with a dense crumb. This is the kind of cake that does not crumble too much, so you don’t have to keep dusting yourself off. You can go ahead, fork off a large morsel, and dive in- because once you are done with that first bite, you will want to take larger and larger forkfuls!

My only worry with this cake was the olive oil itself- I thought it might overpower the taste of the cocoa and make the cake taste like, well, olive oil. But it doesn’t. There is a faint hint of it, yes- but the pinch of salt, almonds and cocoa balance it out quite well, lending the cake a sophisticated flavour. (I’m not trying to be a cake snob, but ‘sophisticated’ is honestly the best way to describe it! This cake does not have a kiddie, cupcake-with-sprinkles kind of taste…though even that is a wonderful flavour.)

I tweaked the recipe as usual. I used equal parts almond meal and all-purpose flour instead of going flourless like Nigella. Next time I’ll use only almond meal and see how it turns out!

CHOCOLATE & OLIVE OIL CAKE (From Nigellissima.) 


  • 50 g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 125 ml boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 75 g flour
  • 75 g almond meal/ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs


  • Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a 9-inch cake tin and line the base with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl. Whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, pourable paste with no lumps. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, olive oil and eggs for about 3 minutes on high speed until you have a pale, fluffy, thickened foam.
  • Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture. When everything has come together, add in the flour mixture and fold until no streaks of flour remain in the batter.
  • Scrape down the sides, stir once again to combine, then pour the batter into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the middle looks slightly damp. (Nigella says “A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.”)
  • Allow the cake to cool before serving. I served mine completely cooled, but you can also serve it when it is warm and a little custard-y in the center.

chocolate olive oil cake slice close up

7 thoughts on “Chocolate & Olive Oil Cake | Nigella Lawson’s Flourless Cake Recipe

  1. Pingback: Nigella Lawson’s Baby Bundts + Making Allowances | Sugar, Spice, Etc

  2. Pingback: Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake + A Love For Cookbooks | Sugar, Spice, Etc

    • Thanks so much! Ever since I baked this cake, I’ve tried many more olive oil cakes. Food52 has two really good recipes- a Grape, Almond and Olive Oil cake and Maialino’s olive oil cake. Almond meal + olive oil are a decadent combo!!

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