Pantry Vegan Chocolate Cake

featuredFor those who see the word vegan and turn away… there’s no need. We’re not talking about a slice of tofu with grill marks painted on it called a “steak”. This is a cake recipe, easier than most, using ingredients likely to be on hand because nothing perishable–eggs, milk, butter–is involved. That is all.

I make a lot of vegan chocolate cakes not just because they’re easy, but because they’re not as inclined to fail, and they’re just as rich and fabulous as the rest. And if you’re going to top it with a buttery frosting, it’s not so bad to have one element in the mix with a little less cholesterol…

My main motivation for creating this recipe was I needed to make a cake, didn’t want to go to the store and was out of cocoa powder, but had plenty of chocolate (always do). My other vegan chocolate cake is a one-layer cake and I wanted something slightly larger, more of a small sheet cake.

Vegan Chocolate Cake (makes one 7 x 10 inch (18 x 26cm) cake, about 8 servings)

1-1/2 cups (360ml) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (180ml) sugar*
1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5ml) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
4 Tbsps. (60ml) oil (canola, grape seed, corn, safflower, etc.–not olive oil)
3 oz. (90g) dark chocolate–bittersweet or semisweet will do*
1 Tbsp. (15ml) vanilla
1 cup (240ml) hot water
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) espresso powder or instant coffee (optional)**
1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5ml) vinegar (apple cider or white)

*You can also use unsweetened chocolate. For every ounce, use one more tablespoon of sugar.

**Like salt in sweet foods and lemon in anything, coffee gives a little backbone to chocolate; a little something extra for the palate to pleasantly process, but you don’t need it.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Grease a 7 x 10 inch rectangular baking pan with cooking spray, vegan margarine or oil. Line it with a strip of parchment paper going one direction or the other. Have the paper come up the sides and above the rim by an inch or two to make it easier to lift the cake out of the pan. If you’re going to frost and serve the cake in the pan, omit the paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, soda and salt together.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about a minute. Check it frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the chocolate in a pan over ever-so-low heat.

In a small bowl combine the oil and chocolate. Add the hot water and stir to blend.

Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the streaks of flour are gone. Add the vanilla and vinegar and stir to combine. You want to mix this thoroughly, but don’t over-mix. Beating anything with flour in it to excess will develop the gluten and give you a chewy cake.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes. This cake cooks quickly so keep your eye on it. It’s ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top may crack. Don’t worry about it.

Let the cake cook in the pan until ready to frost.

Coffee Frosting

I did not use a vegan frosting, but you could easily make this vegan by substituting either non-hydrogenated vegan margarine or shortening.

1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature/soft
1/2 ounce (15g) dark chocolate, melted
2-3 cups (480-720ml) powdered/icing/confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) espresso powder or instant coffee
2 Tbsps. (30ml) hot water
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla

Dissolve the coffee in the water.

Whip the butter in a standing mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the melted chocolate and mix until blended.

Add the coffee and vanilla and mix.

Add the sugar 1/4 cup (60ml) at a time, mixing each time until it is all incorporated. Stop when you like the consistency and taste. Two cups might be enough for you. If it gets too thick, but you still need to add more sugar, you can add a few drops of hot water to thin it out as you go.

Top the cooled cake with the frosting and either refrigerate or serve.