Friday, February 12, 2010

Dairy-free chocolate cake

As part of a family of five that goes through about seven gallons of milk a week, not to mention an abundance of yogurt, cheese, butter, and other products of the cow (and, occasionally, goat), I did not choose this recipe because it is dairy free. But, it is. So I thought it might be useful for cooks who seek either (a) dairy-free desserts their kids (and even the cook) will like or (and?) (b) a really fast way to make a chocolate cake.

This recipe achieves both. It comes from the latest edition of the Joy of Cooking, and you can find it on page 723. The text describes it as "delightfully simple." As someone who's been cooking nigh on three decades, I was skeptical. But it was really and delightfully simple and turned out to be delightfully OK.

Set the oven at 375 F. Your pan is an 8 x 8 greased square, or you can line it with parchment paper. I sprayed mine with organic cooking spray. If you're going non-dairy, that's probably one way to go.

In a large bowl, I whisked together:
1.5 c. all-purpose flour (if you're gluten free, you'll have to work out the appropriate subs here)
1 c. sugar + another 2 tbsp
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder + another 1 tbsp
1 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt

To this, I added:
1 c. cold water
1/4 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar (full disclosure: I was clean out of this, so I used white-wine vinegar)
2 tsp vanilla

Whisked it up until it looked like a smooth cake batter, poured it into pan, popped pan into oven for 30 minutes exactly. It was done. It looked like a cake. A chocolate cake. I've never, ever been able to make a cake from scratch in 35 minutes before.

You have the option of dressing it up with various accoutrements of your choice, from a dusting of confectioners' sugar to a quick icing. We ate ours plain. And we liked it like that.

As a chocolate lover, I will say that there's not a rich, chocolatey flavor to this cake. It's juuuust chocolate enough. But it is a good cake, a quick cake, and a dairy-free cake that my kids seemed to think was just as good as anything with loads of butter or milk.

Give it a try and chime in with here the opinions around your house.


  1. I'm going to try this for Valentine's Day, and maybe use a stencil to create a powdered sugar heart on top??? I'll let you know how it goes.

  2. I'll definitely try this. I love a good chocolate cake. I'll just sub a plain GF baking flour for the wheat flour.

  3. I wasn't sure if the subs are 1:1 or not. Are they?

  4. Yes, so long as you use a GF blend. You couldn't just sub, say, rice flour, or sorghum flour, 1:1 for wheat flour. You'd need a blend. There are store-bought blends as well as ones you can mix up yourself.

  5. I think I'll try this with my sorghum-blend. It is closest to wheat flour in terms of texture & behavior. Of course, that's only possible if I can get to the store for more sorghum to make the dang blend!

    I *miss* chocolate cake. Wonder if this had frosting would it be close to the real thing I remember?

  6. I can't promise a smooth, chocolatey chocolateness--this ain't devil's food. was sufficient, and with frosting? No doubt it would be quite fine.