Nicola Lamb's 8 Inch Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe

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An exceptionally airy chocolate mousse-like cake by Nicola Lamb. It’s demanding but the end result is worth the effort.

  • Prep20m
  • Cook1h
  • Total1h 20m

In the process of overhauling this blog I realised that I’ve made a lot of chocolate cake. One more can’t hurt and it’s a special one. Separating eggs and a water bath would normally make me run a mile (to the boozy embrace of Nigella’s Chocolate Amaretto Cake) but exceptions can be made. Especially over a long weekend.

Nicola Lamb’s recipes are, like Felicity Cloake’s, The Ultimate. This one makes use of an 8 inch tin, which is appealing as I hardly ever use mine. The ingredients list is short and the end result is glorious; it’s like baked chocolate mousse, rich, decadent and oh-so light.

Nicola’s book, Sift, has just come out. I’ve put a hold on buying cookbooks but I’ve broken it for this one. Look at the recipe testing that went into this Flourless Chocolate Cake. Nicola made 12 versions in pursuit of perfection and the taste and texture is divine. If you’re pushed for time, or not in the mood to weigh eggs, look elsewhere. Otherwise, don’t hesitate. This is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve tasted.


I love that Nicola provided an internal temperature for when the cake is done (78-84°C). I can’t believe I never realised that baked goods, like meat, have an ideal temperature. I’ve got a short blog post on the way so they'll always be to hand.

The recipe says to wrap cling film and tin foil around the baking tin to prevent water from getting in. The consensus is mixed on whether cling film can go in the oven. I buy the catering stuff and my box says it can't. I use tin foil and string and my tin usually remains water-tight (the cake won't be ruined if water gets in). I don't have much room to work with so I pour the water into the ovenproof dish first, before carefully lowering the tin into it.

Ideally the cake should be served with 100g crème fraîche and 100g double cream, whipped together. I don’t bother as there’s only two of us. 

Recipe credit

Flourless Chocolate Cake by Nicola Lamb


Nicola Lamb's 8 Inch Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • Prep20m
  • Cook1h
  • Total1h 20m
Serves: 8-10


Chocolate cake

  • 170g dark chocolate (I use 70%)
  • 110g butter (I use salted)
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 10g cocoa powder (optional, plus more to dust)
  • 180g egg whites (around 5-6 eggs, probably 5 if large)
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 35g egg yolks (around 2)

You will need

  • a tall 8 inch cake tin (rather than a sandwich tin. Mine is loose bottomed)
  • an electric mixer (mine is handheld)


  1. Preheat your oven to 120°C. Line the bottom and sides of a tall 8-inch tin with baking paper (mine is loose bottomed). Wrap the outside with foil (I tie string around the tin to secure the foil - see notes). Fill and boil your kettle.
  2. Chocolate butter mixture: Add 170g of dark chocolate and 110g of butter to a large heatproof bowl. Either melt in a microwave on the defrost setting or place the bowl over a pan of boiling water, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of cold water, ¼ teaspoon of flaky salt and 10g of cocoa powder (if using).
  3. Meringue: Add 180g of egg whites to a large bowl and whisk on high for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add 140g of caster sugar over the next 30 seconds. Whisk for 6-8 minutes until you have a dense, glossy meringue. Note from Nicola: “It should be shiny and thick but not too stiff - when the beaters are lifted, it should gently flop onto itself. All our mixers are different, so keep checking - you want the meringue to be flexible and firm!”
  4. Chocolate butter mixture: Stir 35g of egg yolks into the chocolate butter mixture. Whisk in 40g of meringue to loosen the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining meringue until combined.
  5. Transfer the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the top (Nicola suggests using an offset spatula; I don’t have one so I use the back of a spoon).
  6. Water bath and bake: Pour an inch or so of boiled water into an ovenproof dish. Carefully lower the tin into the dish. Top up with more water if needed - I stop about an inch below the top of the tin. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the top is dry. The internal temperature should be between 78-84°C. Cracking isn’t an issue as the cake will be flipped over later.
  7. The cake can be removed from the water bath once it’s cool enough to touch. Either transfer the tin to the fridge to cool completely or place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Once chilled, remove the tin and paper carefully, turn the cake upside down then dust with cocoa powder. For neat slices, cut with a hot, dry knife (pour boiled water over the knife and dry it, then repeat for each slice).


The cake is best eaten at room temperature. I store it in the fridge then microwave it for 15-20 seconds before eating (Nicola’s recommendation). To be honest, it’s great straight out of the fridge too. 

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