A Celebration Cake

Last Friday on Facebook, I mentioned I was making a cake for my father’s 79th birthday and so many people commented that I thought I would put the recipe up here.  Dad started celebrating his birthday a week before and my sister made him a cake. I heard a lot about this cake from both my parents so I admit to a shot of trying to out-do my big sister, however, she is a brilliant cook so I knew it would be a challenge and for that I needed Nigella.

A few years ago I won a competition which I entered because I thought the prize was a hamper. Turns out it was Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be a Domestic Goddess’ cook book. The thing about this book is that the recipes are groaning with fats and sugars so I hardly use it, but when you need a celebration cake, this is the place to go.

I turned directly to the chapter entitled ‘Chocolate’.  The official name of this cake is ‘Torta Alla Gianduia’,  but she refers to it as Nutella cake. It begs the question, how did I get to this age in life and not have ever tasted Nutella?  The Lad tells me that he had it on pancakes every second day for the ten weeks he was in France!

Although it used three bowls to make, all were yummy to lick and Boy Wonder and I decided the mixture tasted like Ferro Rocher chocolates. The cake itself was easy to make. What did it taste like? Rich, decadent, divine, chocolately …everything you want in a celebration cake.

So if you have a birthday coming up for someone in your family or for yourself, I really recommend this and my Dad does too!


From Nigella Lawson

Not only is this one of the easiest cakes to make, it happens – joyously – to be one of the most delicious. My household is totally addicted!

Please don’t feel obliged to rush out and buy a bottle of Frangelico, the most divinely declasse hazelnut liqueur, its monkish derivation signalled by the rope that is hung from the holy-brother-shaped bottle. (Fiona adds here, ‘I used Cointreau’)

I use hazelnuts bought ready-ground, but ones you grind yourself in the processor will provide more nutty moistness.


  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 400g Nutella (1 large jar)
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 23cm Springform tin, greased and lined
  • 100g hazelnuts (peeled weight)
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water
  • 125g dark chocolate


Serves: 8
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. 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 (or whatever you’re using), egg yolks and ground hazelnuts.
  2. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then 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 the prepared tin and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack.
  4. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so that they don’t burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. Transfer to a plate and let cool. This is imperative: if they go on the ganache while hot, it’ll turn oily. (Believe me, I speak from experience.)
  5. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the cream, liqueur or water and chopped chocolate, and heat gently. Once the chocolate’s melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency to ice the top of the cake. Unmould the cooled cake carefully, leaving it on the base as it will be too difficult to get such a damp cake off in one piece.
  6. Ice the top with the chocolate icing, and dot thickly with the whole, toasted hazelnuts. If you have used Frangelico, put shot glasses on the table and serve it with the cake.

2 thoughts on “A Celebration Cake

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