Make Ahead

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

June 22, 2014
5 Ratings
  • Makes 1 lovely large cake, ~10 slices.
Author Notes

This simple and rich chocolate cake is straight from the pages of my mum's scrap-cook-book. It was the first thing I learnt to make in the kitchen all by myself. The mixture is terribly forgiving and encouraging of sneaky swipes of batter. This recipe taught me how to bake a cake and the importance of tasting your food as you go...particularly if it involves cocoa. —Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

What You'll Need
  • Cake Ingredients
  • 1 & 2/3 cups Flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2/3 cup Quality Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
  • 1 & 1/2 cups White Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tablespoon White Vinegar
  • 1 & 1/4 cups Milk
  • Frosting Ingredients
  • 2 cups Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons Warm Water, plus more for dipping the knife when spreading the frosting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and line an 8 inch springform cake tin with baking paper.
  2. For the cake: sift the flour, baking soda, cocoa and sugar into a mixing bowl (for use with an electric mixer - or if lacking an electric mixer and feeling particularly spritely you can mix vigorously by hand). Add the salt and stir.
  3. Whisk the eggs lightly before adding them to the mixing bowl with the softened butter, oil, vanilla extract, milk and vinegar.
  4. Beat the mixture on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl to ensure all the mixture is being incorporated then beat on high for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin.
  5. Bake in your hot oven for ~60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Depending on the strength of you oven, you might like to check it at 50 minutes.
  6. For the frosting: sift the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl, then add the butter and vanilla. Whisk in the warm water, a tablespoon at a time, until smooth and spreadable
  7. Using a butter knife dipping in hot water, spread the icing on the top of the cooled cake. Be as generous/ugly as you like. We’ll call it rustic.
  8. Dust your frosted cake with more confectioners sugar, decorate with lollies or maybe just finish it all off with a generous sprinkling of Malden sea salt flakes... go with your mood, whether classic, childish or crazy (good).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Regine
  • heather
  • Barbara Chapman
    Barbara Chapman
  • Susan Hession Bocox
    Susan Hession Bocox
  • chez_mere

60 Reviews

mick September 24, 2016
Awesome cake ever! So fluffy and moist.
Note: I used Canadian all purpose flour and Hershey's 100% cocoa.
Baked 350F for 50 minutes.
Regine August 19, 2016
I too noticed ring around center but when I bake it at 300 degrees for about 1 1/2 hour, the texture and appearance improves. Also, 2 ounces of butter which is 4 tbsp butter is not equivalent to 2 tbsp oil. But I don't think it is the issue. I say try it again but at lower temperature and longer cooking time, and you might as well this time use the butter called for in recipe.
Heidi -. August 19, 2016
Thanks Regine! This is just as much your cake now :) love your experiments & helpful guidance x
heather August 19, 2016
Hi! I made this cake with my daughter and it tasted delicious! I omitted the butter and used 2 extra T of oil instead. It was well airated....maybe too much when it went into the pan as many of the little bubbles we popping. When we took it out of the oven it had a ring around the center and just this part was a bit coarse in the mouth. Did we over mix (hand whisking)? Over bake? I want to make this again as it was sooooooo good, but I want to make sure I do it correctly! Any ideas?
Heidi -. August 19, 2016
Hi Heather, interesting, I've never noticed that myself however I'd assume the difference lies in the use of oil vs butter (different properties & smaller portion). I think that would influence the mouth feel. Try it again with a bit more oil or perhaps just use butter. With recipes like this that are one bowl & mixing the heck out of it (despite all cake making logic), I feel it's best to stick to the recipe as tinkering (in my experience) doesn't always yield great results texture-wise. If for dietary reasons you need a butter-free cake, perhaps this isn't your cake? Love that you made it with your daughter :) x
judy February 23, 2016
RE: discussion of type of baking cocoa to use. I use what ever I have on my shelf. I don't really see any difference one to the other in my recipes. And I bake with a lot of chocolate. I do prefer natural cocoa, though, so that is usually what I have-but not always. When I want chocolate, I usually go with what I have, because I want it NOW!
Heidi -. August 19, 2016
I hear ya!
Regine October 18, 2015
My 11 year old son asked me to make this cake together but this time i wanted to have a flatter cake - without the bump. I baked it at 300 degrees for 11/2 hour. Perfect! So if you prefer a flat cake (although there is nothing wrong tastewise with a bump), the trick is to lower the temperature and bake longer. It was a nice experiment.
Heidi -. August 19, 2016
Great to know, Regine!! Thanks x
Regine October 8, 2015
The cake is good with or without frosting; and with Dutch processed or regular cocoa. I have made and eaten these cakes under all these various scenarios. I also sometimes add 1 tsp expresso powder.
Missallfun October 7, 2015
has anyone tried this cake with out the frosting? im lazy and want to make and pretty much eat this all day long. I am pregnant if that makes sense. thanks!
can you make this the day before? how would you store it if yes?
Heidi -. July 1, 2015
Definitely! It's not AS delicious as freshly made, I admit, but it stores well on a cake platter once fully cooled (covered in plastic wrap) either in the fridge if it's warm out, or room temp, which is how we did it growing up. If keeping in the fridge just be sure to bring it out of the fridge before serving do it's not too chilled. And ice to serve :)
Heidi -. July 1, 2015
Meaning "frost" to serve, we say "ice" here in Australia!!
Barbara C. July 1, 2015
How many tablespoons is 2 ounces of butter?
Heidi -. July 1, 2015
About 4, apparently! But I always weight mine via a scale. Good luck!
Susan H. July 1, 2015
just printed this out...not long ago i made a similar one bowl using a jenny jones recipe! it was very good and i added a bit of cinnamon...
Regine January 5, 2015
Baking literature says:
Since Dutch process cocoa isn't acidic, it doesn't react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That's why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH. And regular Cocoa powder is paired with baking soda. Yet this recipe which uses Dutch uses baking soda instead of baking powder. Strangely enough, this cake turns out great. So maybe it is a myth. But out of curiosity I will one day try to use regular cocoa next time I make it.
Heidi -. January 5, 2015
Love a baking science experiment! Yes I always thought it was the acidic properties of the vinegar (buttermilk style) that did the work with baking soda in this recipe, & that was fine. Would love to hear how it goes!
Apoorva K. December 26, 2014
What if I use unsweetened cocoa powder instead of dutch processed ?
Apoorva K. December 26, 2014
The natural kind!
Heidi -. December 26, 2014
I've never tried it so cannot guarantee, though the recipe uses baking soda (which we pair with natural, non-alkalised cocoa powder as a rule) so it could be ok...However it will not have the rich flavour of Dutch processed cocoa, so keep that in mind. The richness of this cake is what makes it lovely. You might prefer a different recipe which is written to use natural cocoa. Good luck!
chez_mere December 17, 2014
I really like this recipe. The frosting in particular is lovely given it is virtually fail-proof AND deeply chocolaty AND sets up like a dream. I replaced some of the milk for coffee because I'm a sucker fro that sort of thing. May toss in some toasted walnuts or peanut butter chips next time too, just for textural interest :)
Heidi -. December 18, 2014
I like you're style! Chocolate + coffee = almost, actually YES totally, better than chocolate + vanilla for me. Thanks for letting me know :)
Kari L. August 20, 2014
Making this Saturday. Plan on using coconut oil instead of olive oil?
Heidi -. September 27, 2014
Sorry for the late reply, Kari, Did you try this? I'm sure it'd have a lovely flavour, chocolate & coconut, how did it go? x
Kari L. January 6, 2015
It worked well. Made it super moist.
Kelsey F. July 25, 2014
are you supposed to whisk the eggs separately? or with the butter, oil, vanilla, milk and vinegar? do you whisk in a separate bowl? in or the bowl with the dry ingredients?
Heidi -. July 25, 2014
Whisk the eggs separately in a small bowl or cup, then add them (plus all the wet ingredients) to the mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients before beating. I hope that clears it up! x
Regine July 24, 2014
Pam I myself use canola or vegetable oil. I don't have olive oil but extra virgin olive oil which too me is too strongly flavored for a chocolate cake.
Pam B. July 24, 2014
I made this cake yesterday following the recipe exactly, and it turned out great.
Just wondered if it mattered if you use olive oil, or would vegetable oil work just as well?
Heidi -. July 25, 2014
Yes vegetable oil is absolutely fine to use from a flavour point of view. Thanks again, Regine! x
sw July 15, 2014
sorry i meant how many cupcakes does this recipe make?
Heidi -. July 15, 2014
I've never made it as cupcakes and it would naturally depend on the size of your cupcake moulds, so I'm afraid I can't say! Jump in and give it a go, surely you'll get at least 10 from most pans x
Miranda J. July 16, 2014
when i made this into cupcakes i got right at 20, or 21 cupcakes, but i filled them pretty generously (about 2/3's). probably with a more consistent system you could get a full 2 dozen
Heidi -. July 16, 2014
Thanks, Miranda! x
sw July 15, 2014
how many cupcakes does this week?
Miranda J. July 7, 2014
Just made this cake as cupcakes, and it was great! Really simple, rose nicely, but not ostentatiously and made only out of ingredients I already had! Unfortunately I only had regular cocoa powder so my cakes weren't as chocolately as they could have been, will definitely be investing in some dutch-processed!
Heidi -. July 8, 2014
Don't you hate an ostentatious rise? Excellent use of the word ;) x