The Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World
I’ve been sharing all these fantastic birthday celebration treats and this one takes the cake (ha!) as far as ease goes. I am convinced this is the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world. I even googled “easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world” to see what would come up and I was honestly really disappointed with the results (or pleased, I guess, because I still think I’m right).
The first recipe is from Gourmet and it calls itself “World’s Easiest Chocolate Cake” but just a quick glance at the ingredients proves that it’s not. There are not one but two kinds of chocolate that you need to chop up, there’s the butter that you also need to chop up, 2 eggs that need to be beaten, and it calls for cake flour. Now, we always have a good supply of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and bread flour on hand because we use them all the time, but I try to avoid buying other flours unless I really need them. Even then, I try to only buy specialty flours from the bulk bins at the grocery, otherwise I find forgotten whole wheat pastry flour that’s gone rancid in the back of the cupboard months later. Anyway, all this is to say that as much as I love Gourmet and as fantastic as that recipe looks (it has bourbon in it too!) I think calling it the world’s easiest cake might be a bit of a stretch.
This cake from Moosewood, on the other hand, calls for ingredients that I always have on hand. In fact, this was my go-to cake when I was in college because the ingredients are all shelf stable, so once I bought them, I could make the cake whenever I wanted to. And for that reason, it continues to be my favorite fallback recipe for any last minute potluck, dinner party, or just plain ‘ol chocolate craving. I know I won’t need to make a grocery run and it takes just a few minutes to throw it all together (it’s also known as the Six Minute Cake).
Now, if you were paying attention a minute ago, you noticed I said all the ingredients are shelf stable. Which leads us to the surprise of this cake: it’s vegan! I guarentee you, no one, absolutely no one is going to ever guess this cake isn’t full of butter and eggs and all that other good stuff. Which makes this the perfect birthday cake for my friend, Lisa, whose birthday is also in September! Lisa had been vegetarian for several years and then went vegan a few years ago. I’m incredibly impressed with her commitment to it, because honestly, I could never give up cheese and all my dairy-filled baked goods (not to mention these ribs)! This cake, however, would make that healthy lifestyle a little more doable.
You do not, however, have to be vegan to enjoy this cake. I was over 400 miles away from Lisa on her birthday, but that didn’t stop me from making this cake even with no vegans in sight. It’s light, fluffy, moist, and chocolatey and did I mention that it’s the easiest chocolate cake in the world? And if that isn’t enough for you, this cake is low in cholesterol and is cheap to make! There’s nothing to hold you back from trying it!
Oh, wait. Ok, if you haven’t looked at the ingredients yet, you will soon and you’re going to see something strange. The thing is that eggs serve as a leavener in cakes and if you take the eggs out, you need to replace it with something else. That something else is vinegar. Yes, I know. Who puts vinegar in a cake? But trust me on this. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda, producing carbon dioxide which gives you a nice fluffy cake. I know you’re going to doubt me as you’re adding the cider vinegar at the very end because it’s going to smell pretty strong (and honestly, don’t bother tasting the batter because it’s only going to elevate your fears) and you’re going to wonder why you ever decided to try this. But the baking soda neutralizes the vinegar in the baking process and in the end there is no way to tell that you ever put it in there and I promise you, no one is going to know.
I have made this cake dozens and dozens of times and people are always shocked when I tell them it’s vegan (I never tell them until after they’ve taken a bite) and they’re even more surprised to find out about that secret ingredient. So you can either shock your friends with your incredible baking prowess, or just let them think that they’re eating a regular, decadent chocolate cake and keep the secret to yourself. It’s up to you!
The Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World (Chocolate Vegan Cake)
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
This recipe is also known at the Six Minute Cake. You're supposed to mix the dry ingredients in your pan (rather than a bowl) to save on time and dishwashing. As hard as I usually work to prevent extra dirty dishes, I just don't think it's worth it to try to thoroughly mix everything in the pan because I tend to spill about a third of the ingredients in the process. I find it much easier to just wash one extra bowl.
If you have a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, you can measure and mix all your wet ingredients (minus the cider vinegar) right in there. I use instant coffee to make the coffee, so I just heat 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water in the microwave, mix in the instant coffee, add enough cold water to make it a full cup (helps cool it down faster this way) and then I can measure the oil right on top of that. Couldn't be easier. This coffee, by the way, does not make it a mocha flavored cake - you can't taste it at all but it does a wonderful job of intensifying the chocolate flavor of the cake.
The cake does not like to be taken out of the pan. I usually bake it in an 8-inch square pan and serve it right out of that. If you want to be able to take it out of the pan, you must line the pan with parchment paper and grease well or it will fall apart when you try to take it out (which is why I actually made two cakes that night...). You can serve the cake as is, dust it with powdered sugar, or make a simple frosting out of cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, and water.
- 7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unbleached white flour
- 1 ounce (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup cold water or coffee
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 375º. Grease a 9-inch round pan or 8-inch square pan. If you're planning on removing the cake from the pan, line with parchment paper and grease very well.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar directly in a medium bowl. In a 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl, measure and mix together the oil, cold water or coffee, and vanilla.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or a small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter and put it in the oven right away. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.