Flourless chocolate oil cake, dark and moist (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

My good friend Inke Gouws Sandri shares my love for baking. We were pregnant at the same time in 2010 (our babies even had the same due date), and during that time we met up regularly for a good slice of cake or a proper French pastry at Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch.

She also sends me great recipes that she comes across, knowing that I would certainly appreciate it as much as she does. This recipe is one of them: a flourless chocolate olive oil cake by Nigella Lawson. Made with ground almonds, this gooey dark cake is perfect as a dinner party dessert, but you can also substitute the almonds for regular flour for a more economical, “lighter” cake. It doesn’t really need any frosting,  but Inke told me that she has iced hers with a chocolate orange ganache and it was heavenly – even her Italian husband raved about it.

I prefer to use canola oil instead of olive oil, as olive oil can sometimes give a bitter aftertaste to the cake. Also, canola oil is much healthier with it’s high Omega 3 & 6 content, and provides a fantastic moist texture to the cake.


  • 150 ml canola oil
  • 50 g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 125 ml boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 150 g ground almonds (or 125 g cake flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170 C. Grease a 23 cm springform cake tin with a little oil and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Place the cocoa, boiling water and vanilla in a small mixing bowl, and whisk until you get a thick paste.
  3. In another mixing bowl, combine the almonds with the bicarb or soda and the salt. Mix well.
  4. Place the sugar, oil and eggs in a bowl of an electric mixer and whisk/beat for about 3 minutes on high speed until you get a thick mixture.
  5. Add the cocoa mixture, mixing well, then scrape down the sides and add the almond mixture. Mix well, then scrape down the sides and mix for one last time.
  6. Pour this dark liquid batter into the lined tin, then bake for 45 minutes or until the sides are set and the centre still looks slightly damp (but not runny). A cake tester should come out with a few sticky crumbs, not clean.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, then let it cool on a wire rack (in the tin) for 10 minutes before easing the sides with a spatula and then releasing the spring. Remove the tin and bottom, then leave to cool on a wire rack to cool completely, or eat while still warm with some ice cream. Sift lightly with cocoa powder or icing sugar, or drizzle with ganache of your choice.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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  1. What do recommend as a ‘good quality’ cocoa powder

    1. Liz I made this with Nestle cocoa powder and it was still delicious. I’m sure the Nomu Cocoa Powder would be even more heavenly!

    2. Hi Liz, I love the Nomu cocoa powder, but in some speciality baking stores you might also find some authentic Dutch cocoa powder. Look out for the words “Dutch processed” on the packaging.

      1. Thanks will look out for it!

  2. Recently discovered Antigua baking/drinking cocoa (from Checkers) and I will never use anything else …

    1. Thanks for telling me Chrizane, I’m definitely going to be checking that out!

  3. I made this about 2 weekends ago – what a treat! Divine and love the fact that you can make it with almost all ingredients you’d have in your pantry. Winner!

  4. Ek sien dit nou eers:) Sal jou resep MOET uitprobeer:) Dit lyk natuurlik ‘n honderd keer beter as die een wat ek gebak het! Soek al lankal ‘n goeie kakao so dankie aan diegene wat kommentaar gelewer het.

  5. I tried this recipe few days ago. Saw it at a magazine. Tried it and my husband and i loved it. Even though i did some changes it was still perfect.

    Instead of canola oil, i used coconut oil; sub sugar with stevia according to my taste. Not too sweet. So i served it with healthy caramel sauce (tahinni spread and honey+water mixture) yummy!

    the only thing i would recommend, if you want to keep it as soft as it came out of the oven, keep it in a sealed container for the consumption of next few days.

    1. Great tips, thanks Zeyne!

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