Chocolate Espresso Cake by Nigel Slater

What can be better than a chocolate cake? Chocolate Espresso Cake! Here you go, the answer to a simple question.

When I baked this cake for the first time it didn’t work. It was tasty but it was not the way it should be. Now, probably I should have started this post explaining how it should be, but you can see it on the picture already. It should be spongy on the outside, sticky and fudgy in the middle and crusty on the top (quite a combination). What I ended up with the first time was a plain chocolate sponge, which was spongy inside and crusty on top. It tasted as any other chocolate cake that badly needs cream next to it or chocolate buttercream all over it. I didn’t have time to make a buttercream, so I dusted it with cocoa powder and served with whipped cream on the side. It worked that way, but it was not something I will bake again.

If you remember, I mentioned that my love of Nigel Slater’s recipes has no limits. I do believe in his recipes and if he can get a wonderful result, so do I. I didn’t rush into baking the cake again, but analyzed the reason for failure. It turned out that the main reason was my oven, to be exact the temperature. It is a very important point, I would even say crucial. The temperature must be no more or no less than 180C. In my oven it is hard to get temperature below 200C. So, when I baked it first time, it cooked the cake through and didn’t produce the result I was expecting and that was in spite of me reducing the time to  20 minutes instead of 35 . The time and the temperature in this recipe is very important.

I baked it again yesterday. Using an oven thermometer, I made sure that the temperature was exactly 180C. It should take 35 minutes to bake this cake. I checked my cake after 25 minutes of being in the oven and then left it for another 10 minutes. Total 35 minutes worked perfectly.

Recipe: Chocolate Espresso Cake


  • 180 gr fine dark chocolate, chopped
  • a small espresso (about 3 tbsp very strong coffee)
  • 140 gr butter diced
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 200 gr golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 90 gr plain flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line the base of 21-23 cm shallow springform cake tin with silicone baking parchment, buttering the tin lightly to hold it in place.
  2. Melt the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. As soon as it starts to soften, add the coffee and leave it for two of three minutes. Stir very gently, then when the chocolate has melted add the butter. Stir until it has melted.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with and electric mixer till stiff, then fold in the sugar. Mix the baking powder with the cocoa powder and flour. Remove the chocolate from the heat, quickly stir in the egg yolks, then slowly, firmly and gently fold the melted chocolate into the egg whites. Then sift in the flour and cocoa mixture.
  4. Stir the mixture very gently with a large metal spoon, taking care not to knock out any air. It should feel light and wobbly. Do not over mix – just enough to fold in the flour.
  5. Transfer into the lined tin and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Leave to cool in its tin, then turn out. It will sink slightly in the middle, so do not worry.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.

Quick notes

When it comes out of the oven the cake should still be moist and sticky in the middle. The top will crisp, the outside will become sponge-like, whilst the centre will be dense and fudgy.” Nigel Slater

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 35 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

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Recipe by Nigel Slater “Real Food”.

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