The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake You’ll Ever Taste
One of the things you (eventually) get used to after making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle is the prospect of disappointing desserts. Just to clarify, this isn’t to suggest for one moment that vegan desserts and confectioneries cannot be absolutely epic. If made the right way, they can be even more sinfully decadent and delicious than their ‘conventional’ counterparts.
Nevertheless, the fact that most people (many professional chefs included) don’t know their way around a decent vegan dessert is not a matter for debate. It’s an extensively proven fact, which is why vegan desserts often have less than desirable connotations.
Something you’ll be well aware of, if you’ve ever choked down the kind of dry, scratchy and flavourless vegan cakes that are served up in the average non-vegan establishment.
Too Close to Call…
Again, just because most people don’t know their way around a decent vegan dessert recipe doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In fact, set yourself up with a seriously savvy vegan cake recipe and it’s genuinely impossible to distinguish it from a traditional cake.
Seriously - serve the right kind of vegan cake to the most stubborn dairy-eater and there’s no way they’ll be able to tell the difference. They might even say your plant-based cake is better, for the simple reason that you’ll have made every possible effort to make it as luxurious as possible.
Roughly summarised, just because something is egg free and dairy free does not mean it cannot be mind-blowingly chocolatey, rich, moist, fluffy and fabulous. It’s just that if you want to enjoy the best vegan chocolate cake you’ll ever taste, you might have to take the initiative and make it yourself.
Not that this is a bad thing - getting creative in the kitchen is all part of the fun of going plant-based!
Why This is the Best Vegan Chocolate Cake on Earth
At this point, it’s worth highlighting that this particular recipe was first published by Kate Hackworthy - a US food blogger with a knack for incredible vegan cooking.
As for what makes it such a winner, the sheer decadence of the final result is guaranteed to blow you away. In addition to this, it’s surprisingly easy to make and doesn’t call for a ridiculously long list of weird and wonderful ingredients.
Just as long as you have a decent stock of pantry staples at your disposal, you’ll probably be looking at a very compact shopping list. A list with no OTT items that are ridiculously expensive, making it a fantastic cake to whip up on a whim.
That said, it’s also show-stopping enough to bake for someone’s birthday, or to wow guests at a dinner party. And once you’ve memorised the method, it’s one you’ll come back to on a regular basis - guaranteed.
The Ingredients You’ll Need and Why
They say baking is more of a science than an art, which applies equally in the world of vegan baking. If you’re serious about taking your plant-based baking skills to the next level, it’s a good idea to learn why certain ingredients are required - not just use them blindly.
In this ultra-gooey and gorgeous vegan chocolate cake, these are the components that make the magic happen:
- Dairy-free milk - Soy, almond, oat or whatever takes your fancy to moisten the mixture
- Dairy-free margarine or butter - Adds fat to the mix in place of dairy fats
- Lemon juice - Added to the milk to make a replacement for buttermilk
- Syrup - Adds sweetness and keeps the mixture beautifully moist
- Baking soda/powder - Makes the resulting cake light, fluffy and airy
- Cocoa powder - The source of the super chocolatey flavour
- Instant coffee - 100% optional, but makes for a great mocha flavour
- Icing sugar - If you want to frost your cake, but again totally optional
As you can see, there’s almost nothing in this list you probably don’t already have, or can pick up for next to nothing nearby.
Top Tip - treat this like any other baking project and don’t assume you’ll get away with too many substitutes, or altering the measurements to adjust the yield. Stick with a formula that’s as close to exact as possible, in order to come out with the best possible results.
Tools and Hardware Needed
Before getting started, here is a quick roundup of the equipment you will need - a compact list of stuff you’re already guaranteed to have:
- A pot to melt the butter
- A decent sized mixing bowl
- An oven with a reliable thermostat
- A wooden spoon
- A sieve for the flour and icing sugar
- Two 20cm cake tins
Full List of Ingredients
As for the ingredients and the exact weights and measures required, this is all you’re going to need to knock up the best vegan chocolate cake you have ever tasted:
- 300 millilitres of your preferred plant-based milk…any will do
- 150 g of Vegan butter or margarine
- 4 tablespoons of quality bitter cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, agave or golden syrup
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of instant coffee (option although delicious)
- 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 175 g of sugar
- 275 g of plain flour
That’s for the cake, and you’ll also need to measure out the following to make a gorgeously chocolatey frosting to add to the finished article:
- 200 g of icing sugar
- 75 g of softened Vegan butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 4 tablespoons of quality bitter cocoa powder
Simplicity almost always holds the key to amazing results when baking vegan goodies, and formulas for plant-based chocolate cake really don’t come simpler than this.
Vegan Chocolate Cake: Method
Now for the nitty gritty, here are the 10 basic steps involved in creating your own plant-based work of art you’ll find absolutely irresistible:
- Set the oven to around 170° C to preheat. In the meantime, grease a pair of 20cm cake tins and set to one side for the moment.
- Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the plant-based milk and set to one side for a few minutes, giving it time to thicken and form vegan buttermilk.
- Place the butter, syrup and (optional) coffee powder in a heavy pan and combine over a medium heat, stirring constantly and then setting aside to cool.
- Run the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cocoa through a sieve into a mixing bowl, before combining fully with a wooden spoon.
- Take the melted syrup and butter mixture and pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients, before stirring vigorously to create a smooth and silky batter.
- You can then split the mixture equally into the two cake tins, giving both a short time for the mixture to settle smoothly.
- Pop the cake tins into oven in a central position and leave them undisturbed for around 30 minutes. After which, you can take them out and do the usual ‘toothpick’ test to see if they are fully baked.
- Set the cake tins to one side and allow to cool for 5 minutes, before removing the cakes from the tins and placing on a wire rack to cool fully.
- While the cakes are cooling, combine all of the icing ingredients in a bowl and whisk them vigorously until silky and smooth.
- Once the cakes have had time to cool, lather a generous quantity of icing on top of one of the halves and sandwich the other on top. Drizzle or spread the remaining icing on top, in any pattern or design you fancy!
Of course, all of the above simply sets you up with a basic frosted vegan chocolate cake - a blank canvas of sorts. At which point, you can take all the nuts, fruits and vegan confectionery items you can think of and go bonkers with the embellishments.
Particularly if planning on knocking one together for a birthday, a little imagination and creativity with the final touches comes highly recommended!
Final Tips and Pointers…
Rounding off with a few final words of wisdom, spicing things up with an added flavour element or two really can make a huge difference. For example, you could add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the mix, a few drops of almond essence or some organic orange flavouring for something seriously special.
In addition, the same cake mix can be used to make gorgeous vegan cupcakes. Simply pour the batter into muffin cups and bake for around 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick to ensure they are fully cooked.
Last but not least, this fantastic vegan chocolate cake (without the icing) can also be frozen for a good month or so. Freeze when fresh for the best possible results and wrap as tightly as possible in clingfilm, without going so far as to damage or destroy the cake.