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I have made Nigella Lawson's Nutella Cake a few times now. The cake invariably gets a domed top in the oven, which then collapses once it's out of the oven, leaving a depression on top. Since the cake is supposed to be frosted with a ganache, I have to trim the cake around the edges to avoid having a large pool of ganache in the center of the cake.

Is there an easy way to modify this recipe to get a nice level top? Or is it in the nature of flourless chocolate cakes?

Recipe & Method:

(The points where I deviated from the recipe on my most recent attempt are marked in [italics].)

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 125 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 400 grams Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico
  • 100 grams ground hazelnuts
  • 100 grams dark chocolate (melted)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, and then add the Frangelico, egg yolks and ground hazelnuts.

  2. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate. [I added the melted chocolate with the egg yolks, etc.] Lighten the mixture with a large dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time.

  3. Pour into a 23cm/9 inch round greased and lined springform tin and cook at 180ºC/350ºF for 40 minutes or until the cake's beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack. [I baked for 45 minutes; the cake was not coming away at the sides, but a toothpick in the center came out clean. I cooled the cake before unmolding it.]

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  • What type of pan are you using? A dark metal pan or a glass pan tend to need the temperature reduced slightly. Also see cooking.stackexchange.com/q/13167/67
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 13:10
  • The pan was an aluminum springform pan with a matte finish. (Do glass springform pans even exist?) Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 13:12
  • Also, note that this was a flourless cake (i.e. no gluten) that's only leavened by air in the egg whites (i.e. no chemical leaveners), so I'm not sure how much the advice in that other question applies to my problem. Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 13:14
  • Michael: the tips about cooling the outside and/or turning down the temperature to ensure the outside doesn’t set too quickly are still relevant. You want the cake to rise evenly, and that generally means slowing down the outside from setting and either trying to get the middle to set faster (with a heating core or similar), or rise less overall
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 13:25

1 Answer 1

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This is not the nature of flourless chocolate cakes in general, but it seems to be the nature of this recipe.

What the recipe has you make is basically a large Dutch baby. While the ground hazelnuts are trying to give it some structure, the Nutella is working against that, making it very un-cake-like.

The one thing I could imagine helping somewhat is if you'd try using hazelnut flour, as opposed to ground hazelnuts. This works well for almond flour vs. ground almonds, but I haven't ever seen hazelnut flour being sold, so it might not be available. Even better, add some non-nut flour (if the issue is gluten, you can use any flour from a gluten-free plant, or just pure starch). Also reduce all that Nutella which is weighing it down.

It's not certain that the changes will work though, and it will require several baking rounds of tweaking, without any guarantee of success.

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