45 minutes
9 squares
This is the most-made cake at my house, because it's quick and easy, it uses pantry ingredients, and I don't have to look for eggs or butter. If you're lactose intolerant, this is the cake for you! No adaptations needed. If you're avoiding cholesterol, choose the right oil, and this is the cake for you. If you're in a hurry and want a great little snack cake, this is definitely the cake for you. It's delicious!
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered natural cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup oil (I usually use canola oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (cider or white work well)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water (room temperature)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8×8 square pan or something else of equivalent size. Yes, this makes good cupcakes. I’ve made it in loaf pans. You can double it for a 9×13 pan or get creative with shaped pans. Whatever. An 8x8x2 pan holds 6 cups batter, which is what you’ll need to figure on as capacity for your pan. See the perfectly wonderful chart of pan sizes at JoyofBaking.

Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk them well together. Combine the wet ingredients in a large measuring cup, and then quickly stir them into the dry and mix well, until very smooth. Work fast! Speed is important for this cake.

NOTE: you can put the mixed dry ingredients in a greased pan, make 3 wells, put oil, vinegar, and vanilla in each, then pour water over and mix rapidly with a fork – but I like mixing in the bowl better, I can do that faster, and there are no corners to blend.

Dump the batter in your prepared pan, and get it right into the oven. Bake about 30 minutes for an 8×8 square pan, 22-24 minutes for cupcakes. Test as usual: the cake should spring back in the center when lightly touched, the edges should be pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out moist but with no streaks of raw batter. Let stand on a rack to cool.

This cake doesn’t need any frosting but it can be gussied up in amazing ways. There are lots of ways to play with this cake:

  • add up to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon with the dry ingredients
  • add raisins or dried cherries
  • add chopped crystallized ginger
  • add a bit of orange oil (to liquids) or grated orange peel (to dry ingredients)
  • serve with whipped cream and strawberries or raspberries
  • frost with plain or fancy frosting (chocolate ganache, raspberry buttercream, fluffy vanilla, or a thin glaze of powdered sugar and cream all work well)
  • serve with ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce

1 Response

  1. I love this cake. You don’t miss the dairy and eggs at all. Thanks

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