less than 30 mins
30 mins to 1 hour
Although I first came up with this recipe because I had someone coming for supper who –genuinely – couldn’t eat wheat or dairy, it is so meltingly good, I now make it all the time for those whose life and diet are not so unfairly constrained, myself included.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Grease a 23cm/9in springform cake tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds (or flour) with the bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt.
Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about three minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almonds (or flour) mixture.
Scrape down and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.
It is slightly heavier with the almonds – though not in a bad way – so if you want a lighter crumb, rather than a squidgy interior, and are not making the cake for the gluten-intolerant, then replace the 150g ground almonds with 125g plain flour. This has the built-in bonus of making it perhaps more suitable for an everyday cake.