Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 11, 2010

Easy Chocolate Cake

I remember ‘helping’ my mother make Christmas gingerbread cookies, standing on a chair with an apron bigger than I was draped and tied around me. I was just three. I convinced my parents to allow me to take a baking class with a minimum participation age of eight one summer, though I was still only seven. That summer, I also learned from my aunt how to make bread using a recipe which required sixteen cups of flour. The following spring, I started a bread baking business.

This is all as much to say, I like to cook. I like to bake. I like to be in the kitchen transforming ingredients into meals. I always have. Preparing food is a passion and a vocation with me all at once. For lots of people, eating food is well enough but the kitchen is not their scene. This cake recipe is for you all.

Here’s a cake with few ingredients, but lots of room for gussying up. Here’s a cake you can serve just about anyone. Here’s a cake descended from the ‘poverty’ cake tradition of the nineteenth century and strained through the sieve of the Victory cakes of World War II–steeped in historical American baking idioms, but tasty to the modern palate. It’s a great cake for building your repertoire of recipes you can rely on which aren’t a huge hassle.

Cut the recipe in half to make an 8″X8″ version.

Easy Chocolate Cake

3 cups, (15 oz), all purpose flour

2 cups, (14 oz), sugar–and using part vanilla sugar gives the cake a simple sophistication

1/2 cup, (1 1/2 oz), unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups, 16 oz, hot, strong coffee

3/4 cup, 6 oz, vegetable oil–so yummy if you use 2 TBSP unrefined corn oil as part of this measure

2 TBSP vinegar

1 TBSP vanilla extract

Preheat the oven, with a rack set in the middle, to 350°. Grease two 8″x 8″ cake pans, or one 9″x13″. Whisk the measured dry ingredients together. Whisk the wet ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl, stir the wet mixture into the dry until barely combined. Some lumps are OK. Divide the batter into your prepared pans (or pour it into the one) and bake for 35-40 minutes (or 45-55 minutes if you use the 9″x13″). A toothpick in the center will come out clean when the cake is done.

Allow it to cool ten minutes, before de-panning the cake onto a cooling rack. let the cake cool completely before serving, so that the texture has time to fully set.

Easy Mexican Chocolate Cake

Add to dry ingredients:

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp black pepper

zest of 1 orange

Add to wet ingredients:

juice of one orange for an equal amount of hot coffee

1 tsp of almond extract instead of the 1 TBSP of vanilla

Easy Peppermint Holiday Cake

Add to the dry ingredients:

6 coarsely crushed candy canes

2 cups bittersweet mini-chocolate chips

Add to the wet ingredients:

1/2 tsp peppermint extract instead of 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Vegan never tasted so good.



  1. Cakes with coffee in them rule! And the peppermint version sounds great. And, reading the last line of your post, I got the answer to my internal question, “Gee, why oil and not butter?” Duh.

    • And that oil is a part of the whole ‘poverty’ cake tradition, and that of the baking tradition which evolved during WWII.

  2. […] Easy Chocolate Cake […]

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