Chocolate Espresso Cake

Chocolate cake

This chocolate espresso cake recipe always, always goes down a treat with fellow runners, with comments like “Awesome!” and “Mmmmm” regularly heard. And it’s so simple that Ami makes it as it’s mainly just bunging the ingredients together.

It’s an adaptation of a Nigella recipe, which is a vegan recipe, but that’s mainly down to the ingredients we have hanging around the cupboards – getting coconut butter tends to involve a special shopping trip as our local shop doesn’t sell it and quite frankly when we want to make cake I don’t want the hassle of a special shopping trip.


For the icing:

  • 60 ml cold water
  • 75 grams unsalted butter (Nigella uses coconut butter – not coconut oil)
  • 50 grams soft dark sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cocoa
  • 150 grams dark chocolate (minimum. 70% cocoa solids) – finely chopped

For the cake:

  • 225 grams plain flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 75 grams cocoa
  • 300 grams soft dark brown sugar
  • 375 ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
  • 75 grams coconut oil (90ml if a liquid)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar


  • Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and pop in a baking sheet.
  • Start with the icing.
  • Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Once everything is dissolved, turn off the heat, add the chocolate and swirl it in.
  • Leave for a minute and then whisk until you have a lovely smooth texture.
  • Leave the icing to cool, stirring every now and then.
  • Next start on the cake.
  • Line the bottom of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  • Add the flour, bicarb, salt and instant espresso and cocoa together in a bowl and mix with a fork.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted.
  • Stir the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar mix into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour into your cake tin and bake for 35 minutes – Nigella suggests checking at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done. 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 it cool in its tin.
  • Give your icing 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.
  • Pour over the unmoulded cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed.
  • Decorate as you wish but leave to stand for at least 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

Nigella recommends that this cake serves 10-12, but because it’s so fudgy I tend to cut it into smaller chunks for the post-run cake fest. Enjoy!

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