Damp Chocolate Brownie Cake

Damp chocolate cake 1

Sorry. I’ve been a neglectful blogger, leaving you with videos instead of recipes and not sticking around to chat much. There’s a reason for that – it’s called Rolling Spoon, and it’s a new website I just launched on Monday with my friend Elizabeth, who in a previous life was a music writer/editor/teenage ‘zine-maker. It’s a place where food and music intersect – we figured that the best way to get to know someone is by sitting down to a meal with them, so why not host dinner parties with our favourite musicians and bands, and document them? And ask to peek into their fridges, talk about food memories and get into the kitchen and cook together? Fun, right? We thought so.

damp cake Collage 2

So there’s that. But I’ve been wanting to tell you about this cake I made last weekend, a cake that should have been written off as a disaster, but it was too delicious. It’s a reminder to not judge a book by its cover, as it were. The batter was thin, and made with water of all things. It crawled up and over the sides of the pan and tried to escape from the oven, leaving (delicious) almost-burnt puddles on the baking sheet. I tweeted that I was making it, and a few asked if they should follow suit. My initial reaction, as I picked baked-on chocolate waterfall from the edge of the pan, was probably not.

And then I tasted it.

damp cake Collage 1


Damp chocolate cake 2

It’s an ugly (as far as cakes go), disastrous-looking, delicious damp cake. (This word – damp – is how Nigella described it, and I loved the use of the word in relation to cake. The memory of a damp chocolate cake stuck long enough for me to instantly recognize it when I saw that it had become one of Molly‘s old-sock recipes – and yet I had never made one. It’s half brownie, half cake, baked in a loaf pan. I don’t know what it is, but it’s worth making. It’s a perfect sort of chocolate thing to have sitting on your kitchen table if you, like me, are the type to slice off a nibble each time you pass by.

Damp chocolate cake 3

It was just as good – better, even? – the next day. And spread with peanut butter? Please.

Damp chocolate cake 8

Damp chocolate cake 1
Damp chocolate cake 1

Damp Chocolate Brownie Cake

Recipe link


May 15, 2013

adapted from Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess, by way of Remedial Eating

  • Makes: Serves 8 or so.


1 cup butter, at room temp.

1 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, preferably dark

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 tsp. instant espresso or coffee granules

1/2 tsp. salt

4 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, melted

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup boiling water


1Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter or spray a 9x5" loaf tin, and line the width with a strip of parchment, overhanging the long sides by a few inches on each side for easy removal later.

2In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. In a small dish, stir together the vanilla, instant espresso and salt; add to the butter mixture and mix to combine.

3Stir in the melted, slightly cooled chocolate, then add the flour and baking soda, stirring just to combine. Add the boiling water slowly and carefully, beating on low or stirring by hand to prevent sloshing. It will have the consistency of buttermilk - far thinner than a regular cake batter. Pour into the lined tin, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325° F and continue to cook for another 15-25 minutes. You can tell it's done when the middle of the top is matte; no longer shiny, loose and wobbly. As Molly puts it, a knife in the center will not return the standard dry crumb, but neither do you want a long streak of batter - very damp crumbs are ideal.

4Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack - it will sink in the middle, and it's supposed to. Lift it out using the parchment "handles" and serve in slices.

Makes: Serves 8 or so.

About Julie

16 comments on “Damp Chocolate Brownie Cake

  1. Misty
    May 16, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Damp cake. The name is terrible but it looks and sounds divine!

  2. tara
    May 16, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Oh, this cake. I love this cake. And peanut butter is brilliant. Congratulations on the Rolling Spoon, lady! It looks awesome.

  3. kickpleat
    May 16, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I’ve had this Nigella cake bookmarked for years! I love the name and now I just know that it needs to be made soon. Hooray for your new project too!!!

  4. Anonymous
    May 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    As Captain Hook warns, no one can resist so “damp and rich a cake”…

  5. Anonymous
    May 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Now there’s a connection for your Rolling Spoon – Captain Hook’s damp cake and a tango!

  6. Janel @ Creating Tasty Stories
    May 17, 2013 at 6:27 am

    A friend and I have been having a long, recurring discussion about brownies. Adding this one to our list to try! This is the kind of brownie that I call “sludgy”. :)

    • Julie
      May 17, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Sludgy! I love it!!

  7. molly
    May 17, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Ack! Gack! Looking back, I realize I forgot to include pan notes. My loaf pan is a slightly over-sized 8-cup model; my older pans were more in the 6-7 cup range. I remember several volcanoes with the old one, but have since switched to making this only in the larger, newer tins. Just edited the recipe header to reflect this.

    It is a dog, but a delicious one, no? And how cute are YOU over at Rolling Spoon?!

    Love it.


    • Julie
      May 17, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Oh whatever! The drips were delicious! Thanks for the reminder! :)

  8. Jaya
    May 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I love the look of this cake – it’s so gnarly and spooky! I wonder about a damp crumb blondie cake?

  9. Marie
    May 18, 2013 at 8:49 am

    All I can say, as a devoted chocolate lover, is yummers!

  10. You are lucky it was on a sheet pan with a silpat! Looks like something that came out of the high school home ec class last week but I’m sure it tastes way better! You are looking good, Julie! Just saw your pic over at Rolling Spoon. Hadn’t seen one in a long time.

    • Julie
      May 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Oh it said so in the recipe to put it on a pan, and I did! I’m glad – the drips were delicious!

  11. Kelly
    May 21, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    We took 3/4 of a pan out to a friends campsite……lets just say a few slices wound up with roasted marshmallows squashed on top! Delicious!

  12. Jan
    May 24, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I made this cake years ago and it looked exactly like yours. From the looks, you’d think something was wrong, but from the taste, you know it’s all right! Yum! Thanks for reminding me that I need to revisit this recipe again 😉

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