Chocolate mistake cake

1 June 2015

When I first started living simply, I had to learn a lot and make many mistakes before I felt that I knew what I was doing. The mistakes were an important part of my reinvention. Learning that results from a mistake is the best kind of learning. Instead of working through a step-by-step process, you start with a problem and you have to analyse the steps and work out why you went wrong. That involves active thinking instead of plain old following the steps, and you remember it.

I made a chocolate cake the other day. It was supposed to be my usual Nigella-inspired gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate cake, made with almonds.  Oh dear.

The recipe is:
  • 150ml olive oil
  • ½ cup cocoa mixed with ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 150 grams almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb soda
  • pinch salt
  • 200 grams castor sugar
  • 3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 170C.
  1. Mix the cocoa and water together and stir until the cocoa has dissolved. Add the vanilla to the cocoa mix.
  2. In a medium bowl, add almonds, bicarb and salt and mix together.
  3. Into a mixer bowl, add the sugar, oil and eggs and beat on high for 3 minutes, when it will be light and fluffy. Pour in the cocoa mixture and mix in.
  4. Take the mixer bowl off the stand and fold in the almonds, bicarb and salt.
  5. Pour mixture into a prepared round cake tin that has been oiled on the sides and has a round of paper on the base.
  6. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes.
The cake will rise up in the oven and deflate a little when it comes out.

And that last line alerted me to my mistake. My cake hadn't risen much. I went through the steps again in my mind and realised I hadn't added the oil.  So my cake was gluten-free, dairy-free and oil-free. LOL And it was delicious. It was moistly, densely, heavenly chocolate.

So this time my mistakes have taught me to pay more attention to what I'm doing and that leaving an ingredient out isn't always a catastrophe. Although don't bake bread without yeast because that always is.


  1. Yes, it definitely looks like something any chocolate lover would enjoy!

  2. I love new recipes from happy mistakes! I'm hoping to try your version myself, what size tin did you use please, as I will probably need to make a smaller version, which I find easier to work out if I know the original tin size.


    1. Karen, my cake tin was 22 cm. Good luck. Let me know how yours turns out. xx

  3. Yummy mistakes.......My Mum used to make all types of sweets to go into little bags when I had a birthday party. I remember one year there were these great looking, great tasting sweets....when I asked if she would make some more she said no because they were a mistake...... :)

  4. Thank You for this recipe Rhonda it's fantastic! I am gluten free and my daughter is dairy free so a double hit!

  5. My grandmother could never make a "decent" (her words) fruit cake. They always sank in the middle and were very moist. I LOVED them and have never been able to reproduce her "failures"

    1. I have always loved a fruit cake that's a bit more pudding in the middle than cake. Served warm with a bit of double cream. Mmmm. Good luck F in D, and keep trying to reproduce that wonderful 'failure'! k

  6. I made curried sausages once when the kids were little and completely forgot to put the curry in!!! No-one noticed. In their defense they didn't like strong curry then. We still laugh about it now.

  7. That cake looks entirely luscious Rhonda, I have a suspicion you could wrangle Mistake Bread into a winner.

    1. The cake is delicious Rose but I'm not sure about the bread. I've made a few bread bricks in my time.

  8. Lol Rhonda. That looks like a delicious mistake, I may as well try it! I have been having problems commenting here again, the gremlins seem to be gobbling up all my comments.

  9. Delicious Rhonda. I make a lot of cakes with almond meal and these kind of cakes seem to taste better without conventional ingredients!

  10. It looks so chocolatey! What a good mistake to make :)

  11. I discovered making biscuits with plain flour instead of SR flour doesn't work well either. No rise and no crunchy crumb.... :(

  12. Accept for the eggs it would be an great cake for all my food intolerances. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi Rhonda, I have been following your site for well over a year now and am new to commenting as I'm not really that well versed with social media. I have your books and look forward to your new book release next year. Your chocolate cake looks wonderful! My family live on a sheep station in South Australia and I do a lot of home cooking which I enjoy and am always on the look out for new recipes to try. I will add this chocolate cake to my list. I look forward to your reading your posts each day.
    Regards to you and Hanno.

  14. Mistakes are sure the best way of learning. I usual make a least one a day and that means I'm still learning.
    That cake sure looks good....Coffee is on

  15. LOL, brilliant, you've invented a lower calorie fat free version :D! Mistakes can be wonderful. Looks delicious.

  16. I've made some disastrous looking cakes over the years, by comparison, yours looks lovley ! However the Ravening Hoardes always seem to eat it all, what ever it looks like. So not much waste is involved!

  17. Oh you did make me laugh Rhonda with your 'oh dear'!!!
    It reminds me of when I made a Nigella vanilla yogurt cake and followed the recipe from the t.v -it came out very stodgy but my hubby loved it! When I checked the recipe in her book I found that I didn't add enough flour - hubby said he preferred the wrong recipe!

    Yesterday I made your banana bread and butter pudding - YUM!!
    Eve x


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