This delicious dairy free chocolate cake is made with sweet potato or pumpkin puree instead of eggs and oil. It is easy to make, super moist, and perfect for a 1 or 2 or 3-layer cake for a holiday or birthday cake. Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, egg-free and delicious.
Dairy Free Chocolate Cake
This dairy free chocolate cake recipe is fool proof. I don't say things like that lightly either. It's hard to make a recipe fool-proof since there is such a variety of flours and brands. But I think this is really able to support these variations and still come out with a perfect balance of texture and moisture. I have a few tricks to help you along. Let's tell you more!
Why Is Dairy Free Chocolate Cake a Good Thing
Everyone should have a dairy free cake in their arsenal because not everyone can eat dairy. And by dairy, I mean this cake is free of both cow's milk and eggs. Some people can eat one or the other, but it is useful to have a cake recipe that avoids both so you can have a party and not worry.
How is This Chocolate Cake Dairy-Free and Oil-Free?
You probably know eggs are the reason a cake binds and rises in traditional recipes. So I suggest using a few non-dairy things to do that instead. (BTW, I know some consider eggs not necessarily dairy but I do!)
1. To help the cake rise, add vinegar. That reacts with baking soda and helps the cake rise.
2. Use aquafaba or flax eggs or even apple sauce as an egg replacer . Both replace eggs beautifully in terms of texture and flavor.
3. It's oil free because I used a veggie puree instead of oil. This helps make the cake lighter and of course, healthier. I used sweet potato puree but pumpkin puree or even apple sauce works (unsweetened of course).
4. Want to make it gluten-free? Use a GF baking flour. I love Bob's Red Mills 1-to-1 baking flour, but their GF all purpose (red bag) works too.
How Does This Dairy Free Chocolate Cake Taste?
Well, my husband Philip just said: "This is the most incredible cake I have ever had!" Sounds scripted haha, but it's not. He just said it to my girls while I was writing this..he was doing the dishes (husband of the year lol).
Okay, so my take is this. This cake is full of chocolatey flavor and has a light airy crumb. The flavor comes from a quality cocoa as well as the addition of cold brewed coffee.
The coffee flavor is not noticeable; the coffee simple deepens the chocolate flavor. But if you don't want to add coffee, just replace it with more milk.
How to Make a Dairy Free Chocolate Cake From Scratch
This is a basic cake recipe. Combine dry with wet, and bake. Of course that is an over-simplification. But it really is a familiar road if you've ever baked a cake before.
Here are some tips and substitutions.
1. Any vegetable puree can be used instead of the sweet potato puree, or of course apple sauce can be used.
2. Three tbsp of apple sauce can also be used instead of the flax egg.
3. I used a quality unsweetened cocoa powder with this cake, but you can use cacao powder. It is healthier but also more expensive.
4. Be sure to measure the flour and cocoa first, combine and then sift and re-measure. Most likely the amount will match but that's the process I follow. Sifting is important to combine the cocoa and flour well and to reduce clumps.
How to Bake Flat Cake Layers
My cakes are usually so sloped and lopsided, but I wanted an Insta-worthy cake this time. Also one to serve for the holidays.
So I researched and found a wonderful way to bake flat layers. Baking strips. They are the flat fabric strips you see wrapped around my pans. And they worked perfectly!
The way they work is they keep the sides of your cake baking slower so the middle keeps up, resulting in an evenly baked layer top. No dome. Actually mine still had a slight dome coming out of the oven but I pressed it down gently with the bottom of a glass while the cake was still hot and that resulted in a perfectly flat top.
How to Use Baking Strips to Make Flat Layers
Buy the baking strips here. Soak them in ice cold water while you mix up batter. Squeeze dry a bit. Mine were not too drippy but I don't think I soaked them long enough which is why I had to also press the dome of each cake at the end.
One tip: Wrap the strips around the pans BEFORE you put in the batter, but AFTER you have greased and floured the pans. Pour in the batter, bake and you will have insta-worthy flat layers.
Can I Make Cupcakes From This Dairy Free Chocolate Cake Recipe?
Sure ! I think it will fill 18 cupcake liners, more or less. Bake for 18 minutes.
And this recipe also fills an 8-inch square cake pan perfectly for a 1 layer square cake. Bake for 35 minutes.
How to Store This Dairy Free Chocolate Cake?
Store this cake at room temperature, loosely covered and frosted. It will be okay for about 3 days before it will begin to dry out.
You can also freeze the cake before frosting it for months.
Other Vegan Cake Recipes To Try
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Dairy Free Chocolate Cake
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or a GF mix like Bob's Red Mill's 1 to 1 baking flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder which is healthier but more expensive
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or lemon juice
- ⅓ cup sweet potato puree (Or pumpkin puree or apple sauce)
- 3 tbsp aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas (Or apple sauce, or a flaxseed egg - mix 1 tbsp flaxseed in 3 tbsp water)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp brewed coffee (optional to deepend chocolate flavor. Or leave off or add 2 tbsp of milk instead)
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Measure out aquafaba OR mix up flax egg by adding 1 tbsp flaxseed to 3 tbsp of water, stir and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Coat the inside of two 6-inch cake pans or 1 8-inch square pan with butter, coconut oil or a non-stick spray. Dust with cacao powder. Optionally, you can add a circle of parchment paper on the bottom.Or line cupcake pan with paper liners.
- Sift together the flour and cocoa.
- Activate your milk by adding the vinegar or lemon juice to it and stirring so it curdles. This creates a mixture that activates the baking soda and creates a lovely moist crumb.
- To the large mixing bowl, add the flour/cocoa mixture, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use a hand mixer or just a spoon or whisk to combine these dry ingredients.
- Add in the curdled milk, veggie puree, flax egg (or aquafaba) and vanilla.
- Mix with a hand-mixer or hand whisk until combined, but don't overmix.
- Pour the batter evenly into prepared cake pans.
- Bake 6 inch round cakes for 30 minutes. Or bake 8-inch square pan for 35 minutes and cupcakes for 18 minutes. Or until tester comes out clean for all of them.
- Let cool for a ten minutes in pans, then pop cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vegan butter, vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of the milk to a large mixing bowl.
- Use a hand-mixer or an electric mixer to combine. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of milk gradually until you have a creamy consistency. You can add more or less milk, but be careful, it can turn too liquidy very fast.
- If your frosting seems too liquidy, add powdered sugar, if it too thick, add milk a tsp at a time. The final frosting should be spreadable.
Assemble the cake
- Frost each layer, and either frost sides or leave bare.
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients and another immunity-boosting smoothie shot book, 4-Ingredient Smoothies + Juices , due out in January 2021. On this blog you'll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism, editor at The Feedfeed and a nutritional expert at WikiHow. More about Dee Dine here.