Margaret Fox's Amazon Chocolate Cake

By • October 15, 2013 • 85 Comments


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Author Notes: Meet your new go-to birthday cake, bake sale cake, dinner party cake, late night snack cake -- for when the fridge is at its barest and you need chocolate cake now. (It's also vegan and parve and dirt cheap, but you wouldn't know unless we told you.) This isn't not the richest, most chocolatey cake -- if you like, you can amp up the chocolate by swapping in coffee for the water, or adding more cocoa. But you don't need to. It's a different animal: light, delicately strung together with cocoa, and not terribly sweet. Adapted slightly from Cafe Beaujolais (Ten Speed Press, 1984).Genius Recipes

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional, for dusting)
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Sift. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  3. Whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. If lumpy, whisk until smooth, or pour through strainer in to a bowl and break up lumps, pressing them through.
  4. Mix again, and pour into a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter, or drop from 6 inches to the floor several times to pop air bubbles. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed gently.
  5. Cool before removing from the pan and dusting with confectioners' sugar, or frosting if desired.

Tags: parve

Comments (85) Questions (2)

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about 1 month ago daisy326

Can you make this flourless by just leaving out the tbsp of flour?

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about 1 month ago MelissaMaria

This has 1 1/2 cups of flour. You should probable just use gluten-free flour and xantham gum if you are looking to make this GF.

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about 1 month ago cyndilurks

I love all the creative suggestions in the comments. I remember this recipe which I made many times in my childhood. I first learned of it studying history (in Oklahoma elementary school)-that it was developed by pioneers who had no access to milk or eggs at times.

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about 1 month ago theresa94010

Can I substitute almond flour for half of the all purpose flour called for in the recipe and get the same result ?

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about 1 month ago Donna C.

Made this cake a few times, have substituted coffee for the water and added up to a half cup of cocoa, even thrown in a hand full of chocolate chips. Have frosted it with a dusting of icing sugar and even made a small batch of chocolate glaze, always satisfies the chocolate craving!

Alice

2 months ago Alice Gardner

I made this cake last night exactly as written, and I feel like if I closed my eyes, I wouldn't know that this was chocolate. I like this concept though, creating a cake out of thin air in less than an hour. It's nice to have an emergency cake in the repetoire. Also, I didn't let it cool completely in the pan because It goes against the grain, and I'm glad I trusted my instincts. :)

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2 months ago AnnaChris

I made this cake with coconut oil, substituting coffee for the water. I loved how simple it was to throw together and that it used ingredients you'll almost always have on hand. However, the flavor underwhelmed me. This recipe is good in a pinch and I appreciated that it wasn't so rich, but if you're craving something very chocolaty, I'd say to look elsewhere.

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2 months ago kaysenyah

Wow! This cake is a gift. It was one the fastest and easiest things I've ever baked. Plus, almost all the ingredients are usually in the house and the lack of butter and eggs ensures you can have a taste before it hits the oven. What a treat! I used PAM Baking spray and parchment paper for the pan and had absolutely no problems removing the cake. I used canola oil, which was okay, but I felt it left a not so fresh taste. I think next time I will definitely go with coconut oil. It's bonus is that I usually find it makes things even more oily and easier to remove from pans.

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2 months ago catalinalacruz

I love it with coconut oil plus I find that using coconut oil makes cakes more tender. This cake is sooo moist and chocolate-y. The moistness brings out the chocolate flavor which pleases my chocoholic friends. They ask for the recipe.

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2 months ago K N

I grew up making Peg Bracken's "wacky cake" and have used it to make a layer cake. I've never had a problem with it sticking but I would imagine greasing and dusting the pan with flour or cocoa would help if parchment paper isn't handy.

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3 months ago NoBatteries

Has anyone tried this in a sheet pan? Was thinking of trying this as a thin sheet cake with vegan "cream" filling to make HoHos like the ones at Sticky Fingers in DC.

Christianlouboutin-pigalle-3091224_cm8d_1_1200x1200_1

3 months ago Susan Maria

Must use wax paper or parchment circle for bottom only. Cake is perfect as is BUT I did use coffee for water and 1/2 cup Truvia Blend as sugar sub for a 'sugar free' version that was also perfect.

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3 months ago SusanR

After reading this article on Best Recipes of 2013, I was intrigued. Reading the comments I used coffee instead of water and I used a bit extra cocoa. This was so easy. It took no time to put it together. And, it is and SO GOOD! After it cooled I tried to get it out of the pan, and that was my only hang up. It would not come out. Since it was just for us, I just cut slices. I gave it to my husband and daughter and they both said it was really good. Then, I told them it was vegan. They were pretty surprised. I will definitely make this again. I just need to figure out how to get it out of the pan. I used a really good nonstick pan that is nearly new and totally unscratched and I sprayed it with Pam.

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3 months ago emcsull

As I have previously written, I have made this cake for decades, and never tried to get it out of the pan, just cut it like brownies. Was anybody else able to tip it out of the pan ?

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3 months ago Jennywren

I had the same sticking problem also with a new non-stick pan after spraying well. The next time I'm going to line the bottom of my greased pan with greased parchment paper- that should do it!

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4 months ago marietta brill

I agree I think it would be great with walnut oil. Along the walnut lines, perhaps substitute a quarter cup flour for walnut flour, which would give it a more stand alone girth.

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4 months ago Jennywren

Just made this simple little cake as a "thank-you note" for my husband who is working on home improvement projects. A nice treat, indeed. It's good to have recipes using basic pantry staples and not having to run to the store. I always make a recipe as written the first time 'round- and then tweak. Next time I'm going to try the coffee and I'm thinking of substituting roasted walnut oil for some of the neutral oil listed. Has anyone tried walnut oil in baking?

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4 months ago catalinalacruz

I haven't tried walnut oil, but I have made it with coconut oil, which made a very nice cake. I think it would be great with walnut oi.

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4 months ago JohnL

I haven't but tried that, but if I wanted to glam up this cake, I might try a touch of almond extract for some nut flavor (start with a half tsp and go from there), and to take it a step further I might buy a 24-oz jar of pitted sour or morello cherries and arrange them in concentric circles on top of the batter, from the outside of the pan in, pressing them down as you go so only a little bit of the tops of the cherries show. Or forget the cherries and just spread a simple chocolate ganache and over the cooled cake and amp up the chocolate flavor. Its nothing more than semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate melted together with heavy cream. It will give the cake a professional-looking mirror-like finish.

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4 months ago JohnL

This cake is a dead ringer for Peg Bracken's Cockeye Cake (I Hate to Cook book, 1960). Would be ideal for donating something anonymously at a bake sale. Would also be excellent for a young child's party where a cake is required. Not very sweet and just a hint of chocolate flavor.

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4 months ago emcsull

mentioned that a bit further down in the commentary, loved to make that cake as a kid. It suddenly occurred to me a few years ago it was, indeed vegan.
But why anonymous ?

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4 months ago JohnL

Sort of like a random act of kindness. This cake recipe makes it easy.

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4 months ago emcsull

gotcha

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2 months ago JCduck

I agree, using this since 1980. Known as Cock-eye or Wacky cake. Friend found me a dairy and egg free cake for a cousin that had allergies.

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4 months ago tastysweet

Made the cake. It was delicious. Used the coffee instead of water as tulip549 suggested. I did add some cinnamon as well. The only problem I had was getting it out of the pan. I almost used plan B in case it wouldn't come out. My husband to the rescue and managed to get it out. May have to grease it more than I did. It was a cake I would make again. And ended up making it the day of eating it.
Thanks for this recipe.

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4 months ago JohnL

I sprayed my pan with Pam, and the bottom of the cake still broke away from the top when I tried to get it out of the pan. So it might be a better idea to use vegetable shortening, or even better, a round of parchment to line the bottom. The sides of the cake pulled away from the pan as it cooled and weren't a problem.

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4 months ago I_Fortuna

I use Pam or other baking spray and let mine cool sufficiently and never have a problem. I recently purchased a new bundt pan that didn't even need spraying, my cake just fell out when I turned the pan over. It is a great non stick coating that looks like porcelain. My cake came out perfect by the way. Sometimes if the baked goods are over or undercooked they will stick so check the center for doneness every 5 minutes at the end of baking time. Parchment is a great idea and I also use glass or stoneware pans.

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5 months ago tastysweet

Ok, making this this weekend. Just need to know if I bake it the day before serving, do I refrigerate it or can I keep it out? If the latter, should I cover it with Saran Wrap?
A quick answer will be appreciated.

Miglore

5 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Senior Editor of Food52

Keep it out, and (once it's fully cooled) cover it in plastic wrap or seal it in an airtight container.

Stringio

5 months ago Danna Dubno

I also left it out covered in plastic, it was fine. I don;t think it would do well refrigerated.

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5 months ago Amanda Brooke

I made it, let it cool, frosted the topic with mocha buttercream and left it under my cake dome. It was great the next day!

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5 months ago tastysweet

Thanks so much everyone. When I serve it I will be making a mascarpone frosting. It is from Southen Living Magazine.
1 8 oz. container of mascarpone, 1/4 C powdered sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla extract and
1 cup whipping cream. Whisk together first three ingredients just till blended. Beat whipping cream at medium speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into mascarpone mixture.
I will top with sliced fresh strawberries. This of course if everything turn out!!

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5 months ago tulip549

An extremely light cake. I would add coffee as a substitute for water next time to enhance the flavor and also maybe swap vegetable oil for coconut oil.

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5 months ago catalinalacruz

I do just that -- coffee for water, and coconut oil for veg. oil. I would not make it any other way.

Stringio

5 months ago Chris Juricich

I've learned to check out comments in recipes before plunging in, and as I currently don't really need to cut back on the essentials of really tasty, rich cakes (moderation in eating being the key; ie have a slice or two and give the rest away), this sounds like a big pass to me. But for vegans (god bless em) it may be the bomb.

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5 months ago emcsull

let me tell you as a confirmed carnivore, you are really missing something, this is a very good cake.

Stringio

5 months ago Chris Juricich

Duly noted. I will have to live with this decision for the rest of my life...unless I change my mind.

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5 months ago catalinalacruz

I just made this using espresso instead of water, and coconut oil. Really good and really moist. A perfect birthday cake that doesn't take much time to put together.

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6 months ago SuzieQ

This is an old, old recipe... I've seen it called "Crazy Cake" and it is nothing short of wonderful! Excellent dark chocolate cake, perfect for vegans, but also, your dairy/butter lovin' friends will swoon. ;o)