Is there anything better than chocolate cake? No. No there is not. With that said, I don’t care how many chocolate cakes you have made or eaten in your lifetime, this Vegan Chocolate Cake stands alone. I can guarantee you that you will never find another vegan cake recipe that holds a candle to this one. Sweet, fudgy frosting sandwiched between layers of moist chocolate cake!? Absolute perfection. Let’s learn how to make it!
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Vegan Chocolate Cake Ingredients
Besides the taste, the greatest thing about this cake is the simplicity of its ingredients. Just about everything listed below is a household staple and anything you don’t already have on hand can easily be acquired at your local grocery store.
- All Purpose Flour: All purpose flour is the absolute best for making cakes! It manages to create a batter that is both sturdy and light.
- Sugar: White, granulated sugar is what you need here. I know people are really scared of it in a lot of cases but we are making CAKE! Do not try and replace it with another sweetener. It will negatively impact your results.
- Cocoa Powder: Any cocoa powder brand will work here. You can use anything from a fancy dutch-processed brand to a discount brand from your favorite grocery store. If it is clumpy run it through a fine mesh sieve before adding to the batter.
- Instant Espresso Powder: Instant espresso powder is known predominantly for adding coffee flavor to recipes. However, it can also boost the richness of chocolate flavor without overpowering it. It is easily rehydrated with any liquid and enhances the appearance of chocolate desserts as well as the taste.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder provides the leavening power when baking cake. Without baking powder our layers wouldn’t rise properly. Baking powder begins releasing carbon dioxide in the batter and then expands more evenly while baking.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda needs an acidic and liquid ingredient to activate. Here, we are using baking powder and soda together as we need more leavening than we have acid available in the recipe.
- Sea Salt: Salt is a known flavor enhancer and chocolate cake is no exception. In addition to amplifying flavor, salt works to strengthen the batter and provide texture.
- Nondairy Yogurt: In vegan baking, non-dairy yogurt can act as an egg replacement as it aids in binding and leavening. It also adds moisture. Be sure to purchase unsweetened nondairy yogurts for baking so that you are able to control the sugar level.
- Nondairy Milk: Any nondairy milk will work here. Try to look for something unflavored and unsweetened, but use what you’ve got on hand.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil is a neutral or “flavorless” vegetable oil that won’t conflict with the flavor of your chocolate cake. It delivers a nice moistness to any dessert recipe.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is the most common extract in baked goods. It will add a beautiful dimension and flavor profile to our chocolate cake. Vanilla chemically adds more flavor to desserts without covering up the other flavors you would still like to shine through.
Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
- Non-hydrogenated Shortening: This shortening is free of hydrogenated trans fats and is a wonderful, dairy free alternative to butter when making frosting. It provides a sturdiness to your frosting that will help it stay right where you want it.
- Vegan Butter: A small amount of vegan butter is added to the frosting to provide a little extra creaminess. The additional “slip” will make the frosting easier to spread on the cake.
- Cocoa Powder: Any cocoa powder can be used here but I would recommend running it through a fine mesh sieve prior to adding it to the frosting. This will reduce the possibility of little powder clumps in your final product.
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar is the best sugar to use when making buttercream. Its lightness makes for a smooth and fluffy frosting. If the sugar you purchase is clumpy, make sure to run it through a fine mesh sieve prior to adding it into the bowl.
- Salt: Just a little bit of salt is necessary here to break up the sweetness in the icing. Without it the sugariness may be a bit overwhelming.
- Nondairy Milk: A little nondairy milk is needed here to loosen the frosting up a bit and improve spreadability. Unflavored and unsweetened are best but use what you’ve got. I would not recommend using coconut milk here due to the potentially overwhelming flavor.
- Vanilla Extract: Adds a little extra flavor to the frosting and helps to break up the sweetness.
Tips for Making Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Be very careful as you follow the recipe. Vegan baking is even more reliant on accuracy than traditional baking due to it’s lack of eggs for structure. Precision here is key. Never over-mix the batter and don’t let it sit out for more than 10 minutes prior to baking. Once wet ingredients meet dry, chemical reactions begin to take place and you want the majority of these to occur in the oven.
- The preparation of a layer cake can be very time consuming. As such, I would recommend breaking up the process as much as possible. To get ahead, bake and cool your cakes the day before you intend to frost and serve. Wrap cooled cake layers individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
- Chilling your cake layers in the refrigerator overnight before frosting them is a great way to prevent crumbs from getting into your frosting. When the cake layers are chilled they are less likely to “shed” during the frosting/assembly process.
- If you have trouble with slippy slide-y cake layers, leveling may be very helpful for you. While not totally necessary, I really like to level my cake layers prior to frosting. To do this, take a sharp, serrated knife and carefully slide it horizontally across the top of your cake. This video is a great guide.
- When preparing the chocolate frosting, pay close attention to the quality of your dry ingredients. If the cocoa powder or powdered sugar are at all clumpy, run them through a fine mesh sieve. This will remove the possibility of powder explosions in every bite.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is vegan cake made of?
Vegan cake contains most of the ingredients you would find in a traditional cake recipe: flour, sugar, leaveners, oil, etc. However, they do not utilize dairy ingredients or eggs. While this omission can impact structure and texture a bit, it doesn’t change the flavor very much at all.
Why is my cake gummy?
A gummy cake is the result of too much flour. It’s not your fault! Measuring flour accurately can be tricky. The best way to do it is with a kitchen scale (1 cup of flour is 120 grams) but if you don’t have one you can still measure precisely. Simply fluff up your flour in the container before measuring, use a spoon to transfer the flour from the container to the measuring cup and level with a knife once full. Over-mixing the batter is another way to get a tough and chewy result.
Why are vegan cakes so crumbly?
Crumbliness is typically a sign of over-baking. If this is happening to your cakes consistently it is possible that your oven runs a bit hotter than advertised. Purchasing an oven thermometer is a great way to test this.
Is vegan cake healthier than regular cake?
So…not really. While vegan cakes are free of cholesterol and lower in fat due to their lack of eggs, they still contain a lot of processed flour and sugar. Just remember that treats are okay on occasion! Enjoy responsibly.
How to Serve Vegan Chocolate Cake
Vegan chocolate cake is best when served soon after frosting. To get clean, even slices be sure to use a sharp knife and wipe it thoroughly after each cut. This will keep you from making a mess with frosting and crumbs.
You can serve cake slices on plates with a scoop of ice cream or even some fresh berries. If you choose to go this route, strawberries and raspberries are the absolute best.
How to Store Vegan Chocolate Cake
The best way to store your prepared vegan chocolate cake is in an airtight container at room temperature. If your cake is too tall to fit under your cake stand cover, turn a large pot over on top of it instead. Your cake will keep for 2-3 days like this.
Unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month.
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Vegan Chocolate Cake
Look no further for the perfect Vegan Chocolate Cake. This cake has sweet, fudgy frosting sandwiched between layers of moist chocolate cake. Absolute heaven.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Bake Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: 1 6 or 8-inch Cake 1x
- Category: Cakes and Cupcakes
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
For the Cake
3 c all purpose flour
2 c sugar
1 c cocoa powder
2 tsp instant espresso powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 c nondairy yogurt
1 c nondairy milk
1 c canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the Frosting
1/4 c vegan butter
1/2 cocoa powder
3 c powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp nondairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Prep Ingredients: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and line 3 6-inch or 2 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. In a small bowl combine nondairy yogurt, nondairy milk, canola oil and vanilla extract. Whisk together vigorously.
- Finish the Batter and Bake: Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until batter is just combined. Do not over-mix. Evenly distribute cake batter between prepared cake pans. Place pans on center rack of oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of cakes comes out clean with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 1 hour before carefully turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This will take several hours.
- Make the Frosting: While cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Combine shortening and vegan butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer until creamy. Sift in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Add nondairy milk and vanilla to the bowl. Beat until ingredients come together and frosting is smooth and spreadable.
- Assemble and Frost: Once cakes have cooled completely you can begin to frost. If you want to level off your cake layers this is the time to do so. Take a cake layer and spread a layer of chocolate frosting over the top. Top with another cake layer and repeat if you are making a three layer cake. Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake. Do not slice until you are ready to serve.
*Prepared cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Unfrosted cake layers can be frozen for up to 1 month.
*If you’d like to get ahead, cake layers can be made the day before you intend to frost and serve. Prepare and cool cakes as directed in recipe then wrap each individual layer in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill overnight. This will help with leveling and frosting.
Keywords: chocolate layer cake, chocolate cake, vegan chocolate frosting, vegan chocolate layer cake, dairy free chocolate cake, egg free chocolate cake