Vintage HandPicked Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Cake

Nancy Meyer

Nancy Meyer › Nancy Meyer has a true passion for food. Her career began as a Home Economics teacher ...


I cannot take any credit for inventing this vegan chocolate cake. I have been making it since 1985, when I bought the cookbook, Cafe Beaujolais, based on the namesake restaurant in Mendocino, California.

This cake has been my hero on so many occasions. It’s easy to prepare and is very affordable to make because it uses cocoa rather than block chocolate. It freezes well and travels well, too (I took it to Holland one year for Sinterklaas).

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to actually go to the Cafe Beaujolais restaurant. What a special experience! The restaurant calls it their “Amazon Chocolate Cake,” perhaps because it is so amazing.

This vegan chocolate cake recipe is actually quite interesting and simple. Like a Depression chocolate cake, it uses no eggs or dairy, making it quite the perfect dessert for the various diets in this modern day! The crumb looks similar to the cover photo on the Duncan Hines cake mix box, but definitely tastes more complex and rich.

The recipe is very versatile. You can make a single-layer cake in a half-sheet pan, two 9″ round cake pans, or two dozen cupcakes.

Makes two 9" round cakes or 24 cupcakes
Vegan Chocolate Cake

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour(I prefer King Arthur’s Flour)

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups cold water

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons white vinegar or strained lemon juice



Whisk or sift together the first five ingredients

In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients

Combine wet and dry, pour through a strainer into bowl of electric mixer and mix again.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Pans should be greased, lined with parchment and greased again. Cupcakes should use liners.

Tap out air bubbles several times.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes for 9″ rounds.

Cool completely before removing from pans. Can be frozen individually or frosted and served.

Although the cake is vegan, I have to say I have yet to find a vegan frosting that tastes fabulous. I’m still testing. So, in the meantime, I fall back on simple, delicious ganache, buttercream or whipped cream.

The photo above shows some cupcakes awaiting a mocha buttercream (I love the duet of coffee and chocolate). You could easily dust the top with cocoa or powdered sugar and serve with a berry sauce or compote. The possibilities are endless. Think of this vegan chocolate cake as a backdrop or blank slate, and complete it with your palate’s imagination.

Editor’s Note: This recipe originally appeared on Handpicked Nation in February of last year. It’s a good time of the year for a simple sweet–don’t you think?

Photo credit: Nancy Meyer

Tell us how it turned out: