Vegan Chocolate Cake

Learn how to bake a deliciously moist vegan chocolate cake that everyone will enjoy, with this simple recipe. 

Chocolate drip cake topped with chocolate sail on a wooden stand

Enjoy a touch of indulgence with this decadent vegan chocolate cake. A rich, dairy-free chocolate ganache between three layers of moist and fluffy cake smothered in a vegan chocolate frosting. This is a much-loved favorite. 

It has a delectably sweet flavor and a light, moist texture without egg or butter. It will be welcomed by all, vegan or not. 

This recipe is straightforward enough for even the most novice baker. It uses simple, inexpensive ingredients that are common and easy to come by.

Whether you are baking for a special occasion, a birthday cake or as a homemade dessert, this cake is a perfect choice.

Close up of a slice of chocolate cake on a plate with a fork

Ingredient Notes

  • A combination of cake flour and all-purpose flour (plain) – the combination gives the cake a nice balance of lightness from the cake flour and structure from the all-purpose flour. Especially when making eggless cake layers.

    You can use only all-purpose flour or cake flour but try not to over-mix the batter and develop the gluten too much. The cake would become dense.
  • Light brown sugar – it has a richer flavor which is perfect for chocolate cake. However, if you only have granulated sugar, that’s fine as well. You can also use half brown and half white sugar.
  • Natural cocoa powder 
  • Baking soda 
  • Salt
  • Soy milk (hot) – hot liquids help to “bloom” the cocoa powder, bringing out a richer chocolatey flavor.
  • Unsweetened applesauce or plain vegan yogurt – egg replacer. Also adds moisture to the cake.
  • Instant coffee (or espresso powder) – enhances the chocolatey flavor without the coffee taste. Just a small amount does the trick.
  • Vanilla
  • Oil
  • Vinegar – to transform the plant-based milk into buttermilk which when combined with the baking soda, helps the cake to rise.
  • Dairy-free dark or semisweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • Vegan butter or margarine stick, softened
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prepare the cake layers:

1. If you’re using cake strips, which I highly recommend for moist, even cakes, place them in a bowl of water to soak. Butter the cake pans and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Preheat the oven to 340°F/175°C.

Cake pans dusted with cocoa powder

2. Add the sugar to a bowl before sifting in the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together heated soy milk and instant coffee. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix to combine. 

Hand whisking liquid ingredients for cake in a bowl

3. Mix the bowl of dry ingredients whilst gradually adding the wet ingredients, until the batter is smooth. 

Hand mixing chocolate cake batter with spatula in a bowl

4. Distribute the cake batter evenly between the cake pans. Remove the cake strips from the water and squeeze out any excess. Wrap around the pans. Place the pans on a tray if you have one.

Cake pans filled with chocolate cake batter on a tray

5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes with cake strips or about 20 to 25 minutes without. A skewer or toothpick inserted should come out almost clean or with bits of cake sticking to it to limit the risk of overbaking.

Chocolate cake layers in pans on a cooling rack

6. Cool completely in the pans.

Make the ganache filling:

1. Heat the soy milk until very hot.

2. Place the chocolate chips and vanilla in a bowl and pour in the soy milk. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is smooth. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm

Dark chocolate ganache in a bowl

Make the frosting:

1. Add vegan butter to a bowl and sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Mix until combined.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy, gradually adding more soy milk as necessary. 

To assemble:

1. Dab a small amount of frosting onto your cake board or plate and then place the first layer atop this.

2. Spread half of the ganache filling onto the first layer before adding the second layer. Repeat with the other half of the ganache between the second and third layers. 

3. Apply a thin layer of frosting on the top and side of the cake to crumb coat and chill for 1 hour in the fridge. Spread the remaining frosting onto the cake, smooth and decorate.

Close up of chocolate drip cake topped with chocolate sail on a wooden stand

For extra decoration, I melted about 180g/6oz dairy-free dark compound chocolate.

Some were dripped on half the chilled cake and the remainder was used to make a chocolate sail. Use melted chocolate to help secure the sail.

It may be difficult to find dairy-free compound chocolate in grocery stores but you can use baking chocolate as well. However, you will have to learn how to temper chocolate so that it can hold its shape when making the sail.

Key tips to follow 

  • When assembling the cake, crumb coating with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerating prior to final frosting application is an important step.

    Not only does the crumb coat seal in the moisture within the cake, preventing a dry sponge, but it also results in a better finish.

    This thin layer of frosting will act as a barrier, containing any crumbs within this layer, ensuring your frosting is free of crumbs and imperfections. 
  • Do not overmix the cake batter. Overmixing can negatively impact the structure and texture of the cake, leading to a dense, chewy sponge. It could also result in a crumbly, unstable cake.
  • Do not over-bake the cakes. It’s ok if the skewer comes out with crumbs stuck to it but it shouldn’t be a wet batter. It will continue baking for a few minutes after being pulled from the oven.
  • To make cakes extra moist, you can brush the sponge with simple syrup. Too much syrup can cause the cake to fall apart, so it is essential to add no more than a tablespoon of syrup to each layer.

    To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water. Bring to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely before brushing cakes

Other recipe variations and substitutions 

  • Other plant-based milks could be used as a substitute for soy milk, such as oat or cashew milk.
  • Try adding almond extract for more heightened flavor and richness.

Storage suggestions

  • Store in a sealed plastic container or tin in a cool place or at room temperature for up to 5 days. 
  • In hot weather, it may be necessary to keep it in the fridge to prevent melting. Refrigeration can cause a cake to dry out, so it may be wise to wrap the cake in cling film or plastic wrap to counter this. 
  • The frosting acts as a barrier to moisture and air. If you have cut the cake, or are just storing slices, be aware that the cake will be more prone to drying out or turning stale.

Common FAQs 

How do I prevent vegan cake from being too dense? 

To create a moist, fluffy cake it is important not to overmix the cake batter as this will affect the texture and density. 

If too much air is lost, it can cause the cake to go flat and become denser. Sifting in the flour can help to capture more air, as can using an electric or stand mixer.

Another potential cause of a dense vegan cake is not preheating the oven to the correct temperature. Ensure your cake pans are prepared too, to minimize the time between mixing and baking. 

Is a vegan cake healthier than a regular chocolate cake? 

A vegan cake may contain fewer saturated fats than a regular chocolate cake, but it still is not considered ‘healthy’ as similar quantities of fat and sugar are used.

More chocolate dessert recipes

Chocolate drip cake topped with chocolate sail on a wooden stand

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Ganache Filling

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total: 3 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 626kcal
Print Pin Rate
Learn how to bake a deliciously moist, dairy-free, eggless chocolate cake that everyone will enjoy, with this simple recipe.

Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, use Metric measurements and measuring spoons.

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 ¼ cups (150 g) cake flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 ¼ cups (150 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) light brown sugar, packed (or granulated sugar)
  • ¾ cup (60 g) natural cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon (10 g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) salt

Wet Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 cup (260 ml) soy milk, hot
  • ¼ cup (60 g) unsweetened applesauce, or plain vegan yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) instant coffee, or espresso powder
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) vinegar
  • ¾ cup (160 ml) oil
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) vanilla

Chocolate Ganache Filling:

  • 1 cup (160 g) dairy-free dark or semisweet chocolate, in chips or chopped
  • 1 cup (160 ml) soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla

Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks (226 g) vegan butter or margarine (not unsalted), softened
  • 4 cups (500 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups (100 g) natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) vanilla
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) soy milk
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 g) instant coffee, or espresso powder

Instructions

Cake Layers:

  • Prepare three 6-inch cake pans by buttering and lightly dusting the bottom and sides with cocoa powder. I recommend using cake strips for a moist, even bake. Soak them in water until ready for use. Then preheat the oven to 340°F/175°C.
  • In the large bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar then sift in the remaining dry ingredients.
    1 1/4 cups (150 g) cake flour ,1 1/4 cups (150 g) all-purpose flour ,1 1/2 cups (300 g) light brown sugar ,3/4 cup (60 g) natural cocoa powder ,2 teaspoon (10 g) baking soda ,½ teaspoon (2 g) salt
  • In a separate bowl, add the hot soy milk and instant coffee. Whisk until fully dissolved. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until fully combined.
    1 cup (260 ml) soy milk ,½ teaspoon (2 g) instant coffee ,2 tbsp (30 ml) vinegar ,3/4 cup (160 ml) oil ,2 tbsp (30 ml) vanilla ,¼ cup (60 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • Add the bowl of dry ingredients to the stand mixer and while mixing on low, gradually pour in the wet ingredients. You can also mix by hand.
  • Mix for about 30 seconds or until most of the flour just moistened. The batter should be smooth with a few tiny lumps.
  • Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a large spoon or silicone spatula to mix in any dry flour. Don’t overmix.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between the cake pans. If using cake strips, squeeze out excess water, wrap around each pan and secure.
  • Place the pans in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes with cake strips or about 20 to 25 minutes without. A skewer or toothpick inserted should come out almost clean or with bits of cake sticking to it to limit the risk of overbaking.
  • Fully cool in the pans before removing.

Ganache Filling:

  • Heat the soy milk in a pot or microwave-safe bowl until very hot.
    1 cup (160 ml) soy milk
  • Add the chocolate and vanilla to a heat-safe bowl and carefully pour over the soy milk.
    1 cup (160 g) dairy-free dark or semisweet chocolate ,1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
  • Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. It may look curdled at first but keep mixing.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm.

Buttercream:

  • Add the vegan butter or margarine to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Mix on low.
    2 sticks (226 g) vegan butter or margarine (not unsalted) ,4 cups (500 g) confectioners’ sugar ,1 1/4 cups (100 g) natural cocoa powder
  • Add the remaining ingredients then increase the speed to medium and then high speed for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Gradually add more soy milk if needed.
    1 tbsp (15 ml) vanilla ,1/4 cup (60 ml) soy milk ,¼ teaspoon (1 g) instant coffee

To assemble:

  • Dab a bit of frosting on your cake board, stand or plate. Place the first layer on the board.
  • Evenly spread on half the ganache filling then add the second layer.
  • Add the remaining filling, then the final layer, bottom side up.
  • Place the cake in the fridge to chill and set the ganache for 1 hour.
  • Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the top and sides with a thin layer of chocolate frosting to crumb coat. Return to the fridge for another hour or until the frosting is chilled.
  • Spread the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Smooth or swirl with a cake smoother or palette knife. See notes for extra decoration ideas.

Notes

  • When the cakes are cool to the touch, you can also place the pans in the freezer for about an hour or until cold and firm. This helps reduce crumbs while stacking or trimming if needed.
  • To make cakes extra moist, brush with simple syrup. Mix 3 tbsp water with 3 tbsp sugar and microwave for 1 minute or until boiling. Cool completely before lightly brushing (not soaking) the cakes.
  • Too much syrup can cause the cake to fall apart. Add no more than a tablespoon of syrup to each.
 
  • If you’d like to skip the ganache filling, make twice the amount of chocolate frosting, or vice versa.
 
  • For extra decoration, I melted about 180g/6oz dairy-free dark compound chocolate. Some were dripped on half the chilled cake and the remainder was used to make a chocolate sail. Use melted chocolate to help secure the sail.
  • It may be difficult to find dairy-free compound chocolate in grocery stores but you can use baking chocolate as well. However, you will have to learn how to temper chocolate so that it can hold its shape when making the sail.
  • Please check the post for more helpful tips and substitutions.
Tried this recipe? Upload a photo in the comments below!If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving a rating. It really helps the blog.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 626kcal | Carbohydrates: 106g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 331mg | Potassium: 451mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 73g | Vitamin A: 177IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

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6 Comments

  1. Leonardo Amorim says:

    5 stars
    In my city there is no applesauce and soy milk, can I make these two ingredients at home? Do you have any recipes?

    1. Hi Leonardo,
      Here’s a recipe for applesauce : https://stresslessbehealthy.com/applesauce/. Be sure to blend it well to remove any chunks. No need to add any cinnamon if you’ll be using it in the cake.
      Here’s a video recipe for soymilk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDdzSr7RqC8. But if you have any other plant based milk available (almond, oat), you can use that instead. You can also make oat milk by blending then straining oats with cold water. It is usually easier and cheaper to find oats rather than soybeans.
      Hopefully this helps!

  2. Hey there, this recipe looks so good! I was wondering if you thought it would be sturdy enough to do an extra layer? I want to make an extra tall cake. Thanks so much for your time!

    1. Hi Laura,
      The cake itself is sturdy enough for another layer, but for tall cakes, you will have to stack the layers with an extra batch of frosting instead of ganache. If you want to add some ganache filling, make a thick and wide border with frosting before adding ganache to the center. You can also replace 1/4 of the vegan butter in the frosting recipe with butter-flavored shortening for an extra sturdy frosting.
      I hope this helps!

  3. 5 stars
    Looks amazing! I will be trying this for my husbands birthday as he loves chocolate cake.

    Is it possible to make a 2 layer 8 inch cake with the same ingredients? I only have 8 inch cake tins. Would I need to adjust the ingredient amounts?

    1. Thank you Tam! For this recipe, you should be able to make two 8-inch cake layers.