I was going to a dinner party and wanted to impress everyone with my vegan chocolate layer cake. However, I was impatient and didn’t wait long enough for the cake to cool. So when I went to place the top layer on the bottom one, all hell broke loose. The middle part had stuck to the pan, causing the center of the cake be a bit sunken. Worst of all, the layer broke apart as I tried to transfer it. Some of it fell off in big chunks…I literally had to piece it together on top of the bottom layer. It was one hot mess of a cake.
Now, normally I would get downright panicked over this turn of events. Luckily, my friend Janet was with me. She had a great sense of humor and had me laughing instead of crying. I smeared frosting over the whole thing, and even though there were big holes and it was ugly as sin, I decided to take it to the dinner party anyway. People may have laughed when I brought the pitiful thing to the table. But the crowd’s snickers soon turned to cries of joy as they tasted it.
This isn’t just one of the best vegan cakes I’ve ever made, it’s one of my favorite cakes of any kind. The cake itself is tender and richly dark, with a subtle coffee undertone. The recipe is a slight variation on “Wacky Cake“, which dates back to the 1940s. The frosting takes the humble cake to a whole new level of sophistication – it’s pure chocolate heaven. I got the idea from a ganache recipe on The Tasty Nest. Combining chocolate, maple syrup and non-dairy milk is a brilliant idea. This frosting makes me wonder why anyone makes the buttercream kind at all. A lovely variation is to use raspberry jam between the two layers of the cake, and use all of the frosting on the top and sides.
Words of wisdom: cool your cake completely and use parchment paper on the bottom of your pan so it doesn’t stick. Or, make this as a single-layer cake in a 9×13″ pan and avoid the layer stress altogether. Either way, you will be very happy.
Though it’s vegan, this cake is still a splurge, with white flour and lots of sugar. Consider it a special occasion dessert!
For the cake:
3 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the better quality, the better your cake will be)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup organic canola oil
1 cup cold brewed coffee
1 cup cold water (or more coffee)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
For the ganache:
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
6 ounces 72% dark chocolate (Sharffen Berger bittersweet is great here)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
For optional raspberry filling:
1/4 cup raspberry preserves
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking oil spray, then place a circle of parchment paper in each pan and spray again.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, coffee and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a spoon just until combined. Add the vinegar and stir just until it’s evenly distributed in the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly touched in the middle. Set aside to cool.
Place frosting ingredients in a small pot, heat gently and stir until the chocolate is totally melted. Cool until it’s the right texture for spreading. If it seems too runny, put it in the freezer for a few minutes.
When the cakes have cooled, put a serving plate on the pan and and carefully invert. Remove the parchment paper. Spread a small amount of frosting (or the raspberry jam) over the top. Place a flat plate on the pan containing the second layer, invert and remove the parchment. Repeat the process with another plate so the rounded side is up. Transfer it onto the bottom layer. Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
Serve immediately or leave lightly covered at room temperature and serve later or the next day.
Hope you’ll let your friends know about this great cake! Show me some button love, below.