This vegan chocolate cake recipe will be a staple in your vegan baking repertoire. It's the ultimate vegan chocolate dessert, decadent with a rich chocolate flavor and fluffy texture. My favorite way to serve it is covered in the most delicious easy vegan chocolate frosting.

This is possibly the easiest and best vegan chocolate cake recipe you'll make, it comes together in one bowl with minimal ingredients, and doesn't need any special equipment.

side view of chocolate cake with buttercream roses on a white wooden surface with blown out candles.Pin

What To Expect From This Recipe

  • Texture: Fluffy, moist, and flavorsome vegan chocolate cake.
  • Flavor: Deep and rich chocolate flavor.
  • Easy to make: Comes together in one bowl, without the need for any special equipment.
  • Suitable for everyone: Completely eggless, dairy-free, nut-free, and coconut-free. And it's made without egg replacers like flax eggs or applesauce.
  • Perfect for special occasions: This cake is perfect for celebrations, it would make a great vegan birthday cake.

Ingredients you'll need

top down view of ingredients for making chocolate cake measured out on a metal tray.Pin

Ingredients notes and possible substitutions

  • Plain flour
  • Non-dairy milk is mixed with apple cider vinegar which creates a vegan buttermilk substitute. Seeing as we are not using any eggs or milk in this recipe, vegan buttermilk helps to tenderize the vegan chocolate cake as well as provides it with some leavening. You can use any non-dairy milk of your preference. From my experience, soy milk works best for creating buttermilk, but you can absolutely use another plant-based milk such as almond milk or oat milk depending on your dietary preferences.
  • Dutch-processed cocoa powder: Or unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder will give your vegan cake a delicious deep chocolate flavor. Natural cocoa powder is more acidic and will yield a different result in the cake, both in taste and texture. You can read more on this post by Sally's Baking Addiction.
  • Soft brown sugar gives the chocolate cake a slight caramel flavor as well as added moisture.
  • Freshly brewed hot coffee, it's no secret that coffee helps to intensify the flavor of chocolate in baking, but you can add water in its place if you're avoiding coffee. Adding boiling liquid to the chocolate cake batter helps it to rise in the oven due to the reaction it has with the baking powder. You can use decaf coffee if needed, or if you really don't want to add it and don't mind the chocolate flavor being slightly less intense, replace it with boiling water.
  • Sunflower oil keeps the chocolate cake moist, you can also use light olive oil, vegetable oil, or rapeseed oil.
  • Baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents which work together in tandem to give a nice fluffy rise to vegan cake recipes.
  • Sea salt and vanilla extract enhance the flavor of the chocolate sponge cake.

How to make vegan chocolate cake

(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)

I usually recommend baking and chilling your cakes the day before frosting and serving, as this makes them so much sturdier and easier to work with. However, you can always get away with chilling them for a couple of hours if you're in a pinch!

Bake And Chill The Cakes

Start by mixing together the dry ingredients (that's plain flour, Dutch-processed cocoa, soft brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large mixing bowl, and give them a good stir with a whisk.

Then add all of the wet ingredients to the same large bowl, that's the vegan buttermilk, vanilla extract, sunflower oil, and hot coffee, and gently whisk until the mixture is just combined. Be careful not to over-mix the ingredients as this can overwork the gluten leaving you with a dense, chewy texture, according to The Cupcake Project.

Pour the vegan chocolate cake batter into either 2 x 8-inch cake tins, or 3 x 6-inch cake tins that have been lined with parchment paper. Bake between 30-35 minutes in a preheated oven until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the cake pan before carefully turning it out onto a cooling rack.

Assemble and frost the cake

Once your cakes are chilled, very carefully cut off the domes using a cake leveler or serrated knife. If you prefer, you can level the dome on the top layer cake as I did below.

You can decorate this chocolate cake however you like. From simply slathering the frosting on with an offset spatula to creating a more intricate design using a piping bag. You could also go for a simple layer of buttercream and chocolate glaze, just like in my vegan raspberry chocolate cake.

I was feeling inspired by I Am Baker and Joy Food Sunshine and went for piped chocolate buttercream roses to decorate this vegan chocolate cake. It's actually really easy to do, and looks pretty fancy!

Storage instructions

Store this chocolate cake at room temperature on the day of serving it. If you plan on serving it at a later stage, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will store well for 4-5 days.

Frosting options

One of the best things about this easy vegan chocolate cake is that it's completely customizable. So you can switch up the frosting to your taste!

As for the decorating, don't be intimidated by the fancy chocolate buttercream roses either, they're actually super easy to create with the right piping nozzle. And you can always skip the piping tip and just slather your chocolate frosting directly onto the cake, and it will be just as tasty!

side view of chocolate cake with buttercream roses on a white wooden surface.Pin

Recipe tips

  • Measure the recipe in grams: As with all baking, measuring with a kitchen scale will always give you the most accurate results. Therefore I highly recommend that you measure the recipe in grams. If you plan on using cups, check out how to measure flour without a scale on Ambitious Kitchen.
  • Preheat your oven properly: The temperature of your oven affects the texture, flavor, and browning of the cake. So it's important to allow enough time for it to heat to the correct temperature. I usually aim to preheat the oven a good 30 minutes before baking.
  • Don't overmix the cake batter: As previously mentioned, over-mixing the batter can cause the gluten to become overworked. This can lead to a gummy and tougher consistency, not ideal for cakes!

Frequently asked questions

What piping tip is best for piping buttercream roses?

Wilton 2D or Wilton 2C, are both great for creating chocolate buttercream roses.

Why use oil instead of vegan butter in chocolate cake?

Because butter and coconut oil solidifies when chilled, which creates a denser texture. Cakes made using oil tend to be moister. There is also no creaming involved when using oil.

Why add coffee to chocolate cake?

Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate, giving an intensely deep chocolate taste!

Why add hot liquid to chocolate cake batter?

Adding hot liquid (in this case coffee) not only intensifies the flavor of the cake, but it also creates a fluffier texture.

Can I freeze the cake layers?

Absolutely, you can individually wrap the cooled chocolate cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze them for a couple of months until needed. Defrost the cakes in the fridge overnight before using them.

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More vegan cake recipes

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Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

5 from 6 votes
PREP TIME: 1 hr
COOK TIME: 30 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 16
PRINT RECIPE PIN RECIPE

Description

The best vegan chocolate cake recipe, rich and fluffy and covered in easy chocolate frosting. Comes together in one bowl with minimal ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 280 g (2 ¼ cups) plain flour
  • 250 g (1 ⅛ cups) soft brown sugar
  • 80 g (16 tbsp) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, or unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (2 ½ tsp) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (1 tsp) baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.25 tsp) sea salt
  • 236 ml (1 cup) soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons (2 tsp) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (2 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 100 ml (3.38 floz) sunflower oil, or light olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 200 ml (6.76 floz) hot strong coffee, *see recipe notes
  • 1 batch vegan chocolate frosting

Instructions

  • Please read over the recipe and instructions fully before getting started as well as the above blog post which contains more detailed instructions, images, and tips.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F). Line the base of two 8" cake tins with a circle of parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray.
  • Add the plain flour, soft brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and sea salt to a large mixing bowl, whisk and set aside. To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar to a jug, stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes. 
  • Add the vegan buttermilk mixture, sunflower oil, vanilla extract, and hot coffee to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk carefully to combine. Do not overmix the batter.
  • Divide the batter into the lined cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check they are ready by inserting a skewer, it should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15-20 minutes and then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool further. Refrigerate the cakes in an airtight container until ready to use. Chilling the cakes for a few hours (or overnight) makes them easier to work with and decorate.

Assembly

  • Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the domes from the tops of the cakes if there are any to get them as even as possible. If desired, you can leave the dome on the top cake, just like I did in the pictures shown. Place a tiny amount of frosting on a cake turntable and secure the first sponge layer on top of it.
  • Use an offset spatula/pallet knife to spread a layer of the frosting on top of one cake and top with the other cake. Spread or pipe the remaining buttercream around the sides and top of the cake.

Storage instructions

  • Keep the cake at room temperature on the day of serving. If you plan on serving it at a later stage, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will store well for 4-5 days.

Notes

  • Nutritional information is based on the cake without buttercream
  • Measure the recipe in grams: As with all baking, measuring with a kitchen scale will always give you the most accurate results. 
  • Preheat your oven properly: The temperature of your oven affects the texture, flavor, and browning of the cake. So it's important to allow enough time for it to heat to the correct temperature. I usually aim to preheat the oven a good 30 minutes before baking.
  • Don't overmix the cake batter: Over-mixing the batter can cause the gluten to become overworked. This can lead to a gummy and tougher consistency, not ideal for cakes!
 

Nutrition

Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 184mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 2mg
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