Nigella Lawson’s Coca-Cola Cake

21 Jun

Today is Midsummer’s Day and my son just turned 17. Happy Birthday, Sean!

It’s a wonderful time of year for pool parties but a terrible one for baking cakes. We hit 35 C today and it was so humid. My poor dogs spent the afternoon panting in front of a fan in the office, as we cranked up the oven in the kitchen to honour a family tradition: blowing out one’s candles on a coca-cola cake.

If you’re turning up your nose at the star ingredient as you read, just hold it right there–this cake is the best! It has lovely chocolate and caramel flavours (not too rich, not too sweet) and the perfect moist crumb. You taste the cola tang in the glace icing, and a tongue-tingling fizz as you chew on the sugar-frosted cola-bottle candies on top. At the risk of sounding like a coke cake pusher, I’m going to suggest you just give it a try–a little won’t hurt!

Photo credit: Ayako Oi

Coca-Cola Cake
By Nigella Lawson, from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

for the cake
200 g (7 oz) plain flour
250 g (1/2 lb) golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
125 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
175 ml (3/4 cup) Coca-Cola

(22-23 cm Springform, lined with foil to prevent the batter leaking, then greased)

for the icing
225 g (7 oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons (30g) butter
3 tablespoons (45ml) Coca-Cola
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180?/gas mark 4/ 350 F and put in a baking sheet at the same time.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, bicarb and salt. In a measuring jug, beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla.

Photo credit: Ayako Oi

3. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola, heating it gently. Pour into the dry ingredients, stir well with a wooden spoon, and then add the liquid ingredients from the jug, beating until it is well blended.

Photo credit: Ayako Oi

Photo credit: Ayako Oi

4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake on the warm sheet for 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

5. Leave to stand for 15 minutes in the tin before unmoulding. Then unclip, unwrap and turn out on a wire rack, making sure you’ve got a sheet of newspaper or something underneath the rack to catch any icing that drips through.

6. Sieve the icing sugar and set aside for the moment. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and spoon in the sieved icing sugar, beating as you do so, until you’ve got a good, spreadable, but still runny, icing.

7. Pour this icing over the cake, while the cake is still warm, spread gently and leave till cool before transferring to the plate on which you’re serving it.

Photo credit: Ayako Oi

8. Optional: decorate with cola bottle candies.

Photo credit: Ayako Oi

Serves 8-10.

Note: I used a slightly larger tin than prescribed and paid for it with a thin cake. Lesson learned!

15 Responses to “Nigella Lawson’s Coca-Cola Cake”

  1. Georgie June 22nd, 2012 at 2:52 PM #

    I live in Canada and I do not cook in metric. I guess I could spend the next hour converting this to cups and teaspoons but by then inspiration would have disappeared. Interesting idea though.

    • Valerie Howes June 23rd, 2012 at 10:16 AM #

      Hi Georgie, I have added conversions.

    • Peggy June 24th, 2012 at 5:44 PM #

      Georgie, Canada has been metric since the late 1970’s!

  2. Stacey June 22nd, 2012 at 4:56 PM #

    I am not turning my nose up at all!! I think this sounds deliciously awesome!! My son now wants this as his birthday cake in July!! He doesn’t get much Coca Cola, as it really is a traet for him, and when he saw me looking at this, he went crazy…begging me to make it!
    Coca Cola is surprisingly a great ingredient for several things. I make a pork tenderloin with a Coca Cola glaze/marinade and it is THE BEST thing I have ever tasted!! I don’t usually like pork but adding Coke to the marinande makes it a sweet & sticky treat!!
    Can’t wait to try this cake though!!
    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Valerie Howes July 4th, 2012 at 11:30 AM #

      Thank you, Stacey! Please do come back and let me know what your son thought of the cake. It makes me happy to know your son was so excited!

    • Louise James January 1st, 2013 at 12:37 PM #


      Can you share your Coca Cola glaze/marinade recipe?

  3. Karen June 24th, 2012 at 1:21 AM #

    Can you use Diet Coke ?

    Thanks , Karen

    • Valerie Howes June 24th, 2012 at 10:03 PM #

      Hi Karen,
      It should definitely be regular Coke. Good luck!

  4. Lara August 25th, 2012 at 8:28 AM #

    @stacey – can you please share your recipe of the pork tenderloin with Coke? Thanks!

  5. Maddie -aged 13 May 19th, 2013 at 9:23 AM #

    Hello, This cake sounds amazing
    Just wondering do you think it would work if
    1. I made them as cupcakes
    2. Didnt add the chocolate powder but added extra flour
    3. Used cherry coke instead?
    Just wondering because its my friends birthday tomorow and she loves cherry coke and cupcakes!!!! xxxx

    • Valerie Howes May 21st, 2013 at 2:58 PM #

      Hi Maddie, I wouldn’t change to cupcakes, as that could affect the results. Cherry coke should be fine (delicious, actually), and I wouldn’t change the cocoa powder for flour. Good luck!

  6. beccy August 8th, 2013 at 4:54 PM #

    Hi, i was just wondering whether it would be ok to use light brown sugar instead of golden caster sugar??

    thanks beccy!!

    • Valerie Howes August 8th, 2013 at 7:12 PM #

      Best not, as the brown sugar is heavier and would make the cake gooey.

  7. Clare Murphy April 14th, 2016 at 12:39 PM #

    Can u freeze cake prior to icing? Or can I ice and then freeze?

    • Valerie Howes June 13th, 2016 at 5:27 PM #

      I would freeze the cake uniceed, then ice it after defrosting. Good luck!

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