Nigella’s Heartbreak…Her Nutella Nightmare.

Once upon a time, Nigella Lawson published her hit cookbook: How To Be A Domestic Goddess. The book included her famous Nutella Cake, which I have subsequently tested, crashed and tasted.

Basking in the media spotlight, however, Nigella was oblivious to the troubles brewing on distant shores. That while there was the beauty, there would also be the beast. That her once elegant creation, would erupt with a dangerous avalanche of chocolate ganache and roasted hazelnuts all over a fancy plate. Moreover, that this mighty beast, which should only ever been known as “The Avalanche”, would masquerade around the World Wide Web as Nigella’s Nutella Cake…the very one, yet nothing like the same.

Nigella Nutella Cake

Nigella’s Nightmare…The Avalanche.

I’m sure she’s not amused!

Naturally, you have to feel sorry for her. It’s all very well when people post their successes and flood social media with stunning, visually scrumptious photographs. However, there’s always that idiot who can’t follow the instructions. Rather than taking responsibility for their horrific screw-ups, they then have the audacity to attach her name to their disaster…”This is Nigella’s Nutella Cake. “

If anyone was within their rights to sue, Nigella has a very, very strong case.

Looks like I’d better watch out!

Please forgive me, Nigella. I have sinned!

Of course, once you publish anything, you have to let your “baby” go. Leave it, for better or worse, in your reader’s hands. That’s the risk you take. Otherwise, all of us writers would simply leave all of our babies locked away in the bottom drawer.

However, when you’re a famous chef or cook and your baby is a recipe book, the risks intensify. Not only will your readers inevitably criticise your work, they could well screw up your recipes and post photographic evidence on every social media platform on the planet. This, of course, is an absolute public relations disaster! Your reputation, your precious reputation is hanging round your ankles along with those wretched undies with the broken elastic, and it’s not your fault!

No doubt, that’s too much for even a Domestic Goddess to bear!


Dip your finger in! Can’t you just taste the Nutella’s magic?

After all, is it her fault that they can’t follow a simple recipe? That they don’t understand that “whisk the meringue” doesn’t mean beat the living daylights out of it, sending it past the Emergency Department and straight to City Morgue. It’s not HER fault that the meringue’s  gone flat because you forgot to prepare your ingredients beforehand (a process known as mise en place among chefs) and had to send your nearest and dearest off to the shops to replace the chocolate someone else has thieved from the pantry. AND, it isn’t Nigella’s fault they have a temperamental oven, whose temperatures yoyo up and down like it has a weird tropical fever.

However, when her challenged followers show off their flops, Nigella gets the blame.

That is, as long as they don’ claim “it was an act of God”.

Anyway, after seeing Nigella on Australian Masterchef recently, I was inspired to bake her Nutella Cake. Although I’ve had a few baking disasters in the past, I was quietly confident. The recipe says it’s easy peasy and how could a cake made with a jar of Nutella, possibly go wrong?


My son adding extra Nutella to his cake. He doesn’t like dark chocolate and found the cake “bitter”.

You’d be surprised.

Or, on the other hand, maybe not!

Indeed, even for me, this cake was a disaster and I’m actually struggling to find anything I did right.

It all began with beating the egg whites. Or, should I say “whisking” the egg whites. I forgot that I wasn’t making my pavlova. That “whisk” really means is “hand whisk” using one of those big balloon-shaped contraptions you see on Masterchef.

I know that now.

Then, there were the cooking times. We had a lot of trouble trying to work out when the cake was ready. Unfortunately, this was compounded the fact I had to go out while the cake was still in the oven and left its future in my husband’s usually very capable hands. He did what you usually do. Stuck a skewer in the cake until it came out clean. That was until the top started “caramelizing” and he realized he’d missed the moment. However, overcooking it meant I could cut the cake in half to fill it with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Well, that was until the top layer broke into several pieces which I patched up again with my sloppy ooze of milk chocolate ganache. Yes, despite beating and adding icing sugar and butter, the icing never resembled a spreadable consistency.

Time to take a swig of the Frangelico. By the way, Nigella recommends serving a glass of Frangelico with the cake.

I should mention that I used milk chocolate for the ganache as my kids don’t like dark chocolate. They have sensitive taste buds and I suspect they could be supertasters. Supertasters have extra tastebuds on the tongue. That must be it. Surely, it’s not my cooking?!!

As if The Avalanche hadn’t already been through enough, it’s troubles weren’t over yet.

The following day, Geoff found our dog, Lady, her royal scruffiness, with paws up on the table, tail wagging and half the cake missing.

Not good for the cake…or the dog! Chocolate can kill a dog. Thank goodness I didn’t go with the dark chocolate for the ganache! Why can’t that dog tell that eating chocolate is a health hazard? Can’t she read the packaging? What’s wrong with the mutt?!!

So, after all of these compounding mistakes, I was starting to think this cake was just doomed and that Nigella and I were like oil and water. We simply didn’t mix. I was never ever going to be a domestic goddess!

However, my husband had other ideas and said it was worth: “another go”.


This leads me to Round Two, which was certainly a vast improvement but still wasn’t trouble-free thanks to the oven and the fridge.

Have you made any of NIgella’s recipes? I must confess that I’ve never even seen a copy of How To Be A Domestic Goddess and found the recipe online.

xx Rowena

22 thoughts on “Nigella’s Heartbreak…Her Nutella Nightmare.

  1. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Ha ha! Great post!
    I’ve never made anything with Nutella… I thought you were just supposed to eat it out of the jar…. 😉

  2. Rowena Post author

    Mushy peas are such an English thing. I might have had a pie once with them here but I have a few English friends who go into raptures over them. Might have to try making them some time.

  3. Suvi

    Ha – I’m glad to read that I’m not the only one with kitchen disasters 😀 These days I’m very vary of baking because this just happens too often. The finished product looks like nothing like the recipe photo. I did manage quite a nice rhubarb cake a few weeks back 😛

  4. Rowena Post author

    I thought I was a good cook, although after watching Masterchef, I’m starting to wonder although they also have plenty of disasters. I do feel that recipes can be quite difficult to follow. I re-write quite a few recipes, especially when I was teaching the kids how to cook. There can be too much assumed knowledge and multiple steps crammed into one point.
    My cousin is a chef and she said not to add extras to cakes and just follow the recipe because adding things eg nuts, choc chips, changes the chemistry and cooking times. I think this has helped me somewhat.
    My Mum always told me never to make something new for a special or stressful situation and that’s very true. You need to have a run through first. I’ve appreciated that advice and paid for ignoring it! xx Rowena

  5. Tails Around the Ranch

    Ha, ha! I know my limitations but can’t help but making Nutella cookies as often as I can. With only 4 ingredients, those puppies are GUARANTEED to be completely pawsome (and ridiculously easy) even if Sam doesn’t get any. A pinch of sea salt on top of them is the perfect balance between sweet and salty chocolate. I’m salivating now just thinking of them!

  6. merrildsmith

    My daughter and i were laughing about that advice the other day. It is good advice, but we ignore it all the time. We often try something for the first time for company. Of course, it’s just family or friends. 🙂

  7. Rowena Post author

    The trouble is that you usually can’t eat all the cake etc on your own, although we have the kids so if they like it, it’s gone very quickly. I made Apple Crumble with fresh custard the other night and they loved that. It was Geoff’s mum’s recipe and she passed away before we got married. So it’s good for them to have some connection with her. She was also a teacher and very strict with grammar so they call her Gram-ma. I won’t tell you all their names for our Australian Prime Ministers, although our current one Malcolm Turnbull has become Malcolm Tumble, which is okay.

  8. Melissa @ Ever Growing Farm

    Lol…hilarious! Glad to hear I’m not the only one who can twist a good recipe into oblivion!

    I do, in fact, own several of Nigella’s books, but haven’t cracked them in close to a decade. Maybe it’s time to dust those beauties off again?!

  9. merrildsmith

    It’s just two of us here now, so it doesn’t always get eaten. I made blueberry-strawberry muffins yesterday. Maybe I’ll freeze some of them. That’s funny about the days. We have lots of nicknames, too. 🙂

  10. Rowena Post author

    I dare you! It’s interesting because a number of people have mentioned baking disasters since I’ve been posting about this cake. Cake baking does seem to be fairly hit and miss.
    I’m now also on the lookout for a traditional Cornish Pasty recipe. My husband grew up in Scottsdale in Tasmania and loved the Cornish pasties there so I thought I’d give them a whirl. I looked up a Jamie Oliver variation and he copped a bit of flack from traditionalists for making changes. I’m interested to see if my version measures up, especially as I’ve only tasted the original over 10 years ago.

  11. Rowena Post author

    Hi Melissa. Made the Cornish Pasties tonight and was really pleased aside from the fact they were ready at 10.00pm and I had to throw a quick meal together for the kids. I wrote a preamble tonight and will post the results tomorrow. I have run out of Thursday and am on borrowed time.
    Hope you’re having a great week!
    xx Rowena

  12. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Melissa. They’ll be up later today. It’s now Friday morning here. Hope you have a good day/night!
    xx Rowena

  13. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share – 21st May, 2018. | Beyond the Flow

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