Fast and Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

Do you ever get hit with a craving for cake?

Vertical close-up image of a square of chocolate cake held by a metal spatula, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

 

I know I do. And it’s not for a decadent, multi-tiered work of art. Instead, it’s a simple desire for something chocolatey, soft, and comforting, hot out of the oven.

But the idea of getting a bunch of bowls, measuring spoons, and my stand mixer out is usually enough to convince me to settle for the dark chocolate that I always have tucked away in my cabinet.

Well, I have bad news for those of you who also use this excuse: this vegan chocolate cake is made in just one bowl without the need for a mixer. And it only takes 35 minutes to bake.

Vertical image of a square of chocolate dessert on a white plate next to a metal fork and a metal serving spatula on a yellow towel.

Yes, that means only 45 minutes total prep and bake time and minimal dishes to wash stand between you and a homemade chocolate dessert, fresh out of the oven.

Now, this dessert isn’t anything fancy. There are no special ingredients or complicated steps, multiple layers, or even frosting. Instead, it’s a simple treat made mostly with pantry staples.

In fact, since it’s vegan, you don’t even need eggs, butter, or milk!

Texture-wise, it reminds me a lot of a cakey brownie. Or, if I lived in the Midwest where I hear these things are a common occurrence, I’d probably describe it as the perfect cake to make when you have guests over for coffee or to bring to a potluck.

And speaking of coffee, as good as it is with a glass of almond milk, I recommend serving this vegan dessert with a hot cup of joe instead. The bitterness of the coffee just goes so well with the chocolate crumb.

Vertical image of a square pan with a baked chocolate cake lightly dusted in powdered sugar on a yellow towel next to a metal spatula.

When making this recipe, there’s one step that you may not be as familiar with: greasing and flouring the pan.

While greasing the pan makes sense, so that the pieces don’t stick when you go to take a slice, what does the flour do?

Flouring the pan before baking helps the batter to grab onto the sides of the pan as it bakes, helping it to rise evenly. It also prevents the oil used to grease the pan from getting all over the sides of your cake, creating a light barrier.

While I haven’t tried it, for chocolate cakes, you can even use cocoa powder instead of flour so you won’t have any residual white coloring on the outside of your cake when you serve it.

Vertical image of taking a piece out of a square cake with a fork on a white plate on top of a yellow towel.

Personally, this is the kind of dessert that I like to serve straight from the pan, so I don’t notice the dusting of white. But, if you plan to pre-slice it and display the slices on a dessert table, you might want to use cocoa powder instead. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with adding even more chocolate!

So, what are you waiting for? Whip up this comforting vegan chocolate cake tonight. And don’t forget to add a glass of milk (or coffee) to go with it!

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Horizontal image of a square pan with a baked chocolate cake lightly dusted in powdered sugar on a yellow towel next to a metal spatula.

Fast and Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake


  • Author: Kelli McGrane
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 16 servings 1x

Description

Craving cake? This fast and easy vegan chocolate cake is made with pantry staples, requires just one bowl, and takes only 35 minutes to bake.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (96 grams) whole wheat pastry flour, plus extra for dusting the pan 
  • 1/2 cup (42 grams) almond meal
  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (84 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup canola oil, plus extra for greasing the pan 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan with canola oil and lightly dust with flour. Shake off any excess.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, almond meal, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. 
  3. Stir in water, oil, and vanilla extract with a fork, until no lumps remain. 
  4. Stir in vinegar until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. 
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the pan.

  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: vegan, cake, chocolate, almond meal, whole wheat flour

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Preheat Oven and Flour and Grease Pan

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Using a pastry brush or a paper towel, lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with canola oil, making sure you completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan.

Horizontal overhead image of a greased and floured square metal baking pan.

Next, add a small spoonful of flour, about 1 teaspoon, to the pan. Gently shake the pan back and forth to dust the bottom with flour.

For the sides, tilt the pan on one side with one hand and gently tap the pan with your other hand to dust that side with flour. Repeat with the remaining three sides, adding a bit more flour if needed.

Note: you just want to lightly dust the pan with flour, not totally coat it. Shake off any excess flour.

Step 2 – Measure Ingredients

Once the pan is prepped, measure out all of your ingredients.

Horizontal image of assorted dry and wet ingredients in small glass and ceramic bowls on a white surface.

Note: almond meal is sometimes slightly coarser than regular almond flour, as it typically contains the skins, but these terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, and blanched almond meal is often available at grocery stores as well. Either will work in this recipe.

Step 3 – Make Batter

In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, sugar (make sure it’s vegan granulated sugar!), cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.

Horizontal image of a dark brown thick batter stirred by a metal fork in a glass bowl.

Next, use a fork to stir in the water, oil, and vanilla extract until just combined. No lumps should remain.

Finally, stir in the apple cider vinegar until just combined.

Step 4 – Pour Batter into Pan and Bake

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl.

Horizontal image of a dark brown batter in a square pan on a white and gray surface.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Horizontal image of a baked chocolate cake in a square pan.

Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes in the pan before serving. Allow to cool completely before wrapping tightly and storing in the refrigerator.

Make This Cake More Indulgent with Frosting

While this vegan cake is perfectly satisfying on its own, to make it a touch more special, top it with our sweet and fluffy vegan vanilla frosting or this decadent vegan date fudge frosting.

A dusting of powdered sugar can also add a nice touch without requiring much extra work.

Horizontal image of a square pan with a baked chocolate cake lightly dusted in powdered sugar on a yellow towel next to a metal spatula.

Let us know how you decide to top yours in the comments below. And if you love this recipe, be sure to leave a 5-star rating to let other readers know just how good it was!

Looking for more vegan recipes to enjoy for dessert? Be sure to try these Foodal favorites next:

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on March 31, 2010. Last updated: September 10, 2020 at 12:27 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.

5 thoughts on “Fast and Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake”

  1. I LOVE this cake…I’ve been making a very similar version of it for every celebration, and it’s always welcomed and devoured. I almost love the leftovers even more, warmed in the oven just a little. So decadent.

    Reply

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