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Really Easy Chocolate Cake

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Really Easy Chocolate Cake is a one-bowl, simple recipe. It is dairy free (without milk or butter) and truly the best chocolate cake ever!

Large slice of Dairy free chocolate cake on a blue and white plate with a blue and white cup of milk on a white wood table

Really Easy Chocolate Cake is so good that it may just quickly become your go-to birthday or celebration cake, because everyone will love it!

The batter is very liquidy, but that is how it is supposed to be, so no worries!

Just mix all of the ingredients in one bowl, pour into your pan (or pans), bake and voila!!

This Really Easy Chocolate Cake can be made into a layer cake as well, just use a 9″ x 13″ baking pan!

If you are making a layer cake, using wet baking strips will help the cake from becoming uneven or rounded.

Love baked goods with chocolate? Try: Really Easy Chocolate Muffins !

If I can bake, anyone can

I am the type who hates paying more for something than I feel it’s worth and and loathe paying a lot for something I can bake at home.

So, paying a lot of money for a cake similar to one I can bake on my own just doesn’t work for me.

My problem was that I couldn’t really make a layer cake. I could make one in a 9″ x 13″ pan, but not one that could be used for a birthday or celebration.

For years, I tried, failed, and gave up. Then again, tried, failed and gave up.

It normally wasn’t the taste that was the problem, it was other things such as density or lopsidedness.

One day, I decided that no matter what, I would learn to make a decent looking cake (I wasn’t even aiming for good-looking, just decent).

One day, my daughter Elissa came into the kitchen during one of my “I will learn to do this” phases and stopped.

“You are NOT really measuring oil in the palm of your hand!”

I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I couldn’t be bothered to stop what I was doing to get the measuring spoons and I certainly know what a tablespoon of oil should look like…

“You can’t bake the way you cook,” she informed me (I often cook by “it looks right” or “it tastes right”, not by directions – which I often find people make unnecessarily complicated).

Finally, I decided OK, I am going to follow directions. I will measure properly and that will be it. So, I did.

The cake came out tasting really good, but it was really heavy.

I complained to Elissa.

“I followed the directions and even measured and look at it!”

We decided that she would try the recipe to see what was wrong (she is great at following exact measurements and was tired of my complaining).

I read the instructions to her (off a very highly reviewed recipe) and was very gratified when it came out heavy for her too. Ha!

She insisted we go over the instructions again and she also wanted to see the original recipe. I gladly showed her.

“You doubled the recipe,” she accused me. “Why?”

“Because I wanted a higher cake.”

“That is NOT considered following directions. The recipe is for two pans and you put double in each pan, so it couldn’t rise.”

Oh. I took back my “ha” and never did that again.

After a while, I finally gave in. Now, I follow directions, measure properly, and use the proper tools.

Not surprising, everything I bake comes out as it should (of course…as long as I don’t forget to remove from the oven…!).

Tips for baking and cooling baked goods

Preparing the batter

As obvious as that may sound (except to people like me), following instructions when baking is important.

It seems to make that all-too-often, bloggers will add extra steps or add extra ingredients unnecessarily complicating the recipes.

Nonetheless, sometimes, what seems unnecessary can be helpful.

That noted, the best way to start, unless directed otherwise, is by putting the dry ingredients in the bowl first and combining them together and then add the wet ingredients.

I haven’t found that it matters much what order ingredients are put in the bowl when it comes to dough, however, with batter, it can make a difference and it is a good practice to add the wet ingredients, one at a time, blending lightly in between, mixing slowly and thoroughly.

Dumping all of the ingredients in before mixing can leave flour clumps which may not dissolve while baking and mixing too quickly will add air bubbles, which can create air gaps in the cake

Flour clumps, especially the larger ones, may not bake into your cake and you may find them in your slices.  If you have them, remove as many as you can before baking.  Using a strainer helps. (Yes, this has happened to me.)

If you find you do have a lot of little air bubbles, gently tap the side of the bowl with your fingers before you pour into the pan (you can do this with the pan if you didn’t notice the bubbles until you already poured the batter).

The tapping will pop them (you can actually see this).  You may not get rid of them all, but the bigger ones are more important to pop. The bubbles seem to be more of a problem with thinner batter and with thicker batter.

The batter

Before you pour the batter into the pan(s), make sure that it (they) are well coated with something to help prevent your final products from sticking.

There are various ways to do this, depending on your preference. You can use some type of fat, such as oil or cooking spray, margarine, or butter, you can coat with a fat and then some flour, or you can use baking paper.

My personal preference is to place baking paper on the bottom of the pan(s) and then coat with cooking spray or visa versa. Baking paper can come in individual sheets or in rolls. For round pans, you can buy a suitable size that will fit right on the bottom of the pan.

If you are making layer cake, separate the batter equally into both pans. The best way to do this is to weigh the pans with batter to make sure they are even. Personally, I just eyeball it (which is probably not the best idea unless you have a good eye).


Ovens often vary in how they spread heat, something that can cause uneven baking. This can cause a variety of problems in baking, such as lopsided cakes, raw middles, over-baked sides, etc.

One way to help prevent this is to turn your pan around on the shelf in the middle of baking to help ensure it will bake more evenly.

Another reason for uneven baking, where the item comes out fine on the top and burnt on the bottom, is if a crumb or a piece of something is at the bottom and will burn as you bake.

If your cake comes out lopsided, one way to fix that is to slice off the uneven part before putting on the frosting. I hate losing cake, so when it do this, I will slice approximately half way through the higher part and flip it over on to the lower part before adding the frosting.

To help prevent lopsidedness in the first place, this method is often used: take a strip of aluminum foil that is around 4-6 inches longer than the circumference or perimeter of your pan and lay the wet paper towel on it fold the foil over the paper towel lengthwise so it is just a bit less wide than the height of the pan.

Wrap the foil around the pan and slide one end in the other (crimp it a bit if you need to so it will hold). This will create a moisture barrier for baking (I have read that some people put a pan of water in the oven when baking – I haven’t tried that yet).

I found all of that a little tedious, so I bought cake strips.  These are absorbable cotton belts, around 2″ wide and come in a few different lengths to be wrapped around and secured on round cake tins. They are soaked (but not dripping) when you wrap them around the pan.

If you need to use them for a larger rectangular pan, you can just attach a number of them together.


You know your baked good is ready when a toothpick can slide clean and easily in and out of the baked item (or when the top is a little firm and springy), it can be removed from the oven. 

Leave to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.

If you are going to remove the item from the pan, run a knife around the sides between the cake and the pan. Place a plate or cooling rack over the top and flip.

If you want the top side to remain on the top, you will flip the item over twice (once to remove from the pan and once to get it back).

For cupcakes and muffins, I recommended using cupcake paper and after you have used the knife to loosen them from the cup, you should be able to just pop out carefully using the same knife.

Baking Pantry Essentials

I never know when someone in my family is going to want a dessert at home, to bring to a friend’s house or need for an event, so I like to make sure I can bake anything with very short notice.  To that end, I keep a variety of supplies and ingredients in the house that will allow me to do just that. 

I can’t tell you how many times I was glad to have whatever I needed within reach for the last minute visitor or for when one of my kids went to a friend or had a school event without much prior notice.

I have slowly collected things over the years as I needed them (or if I found a good sale) and like to keep more than one of the smaller items, in case I don’t want to wash dishes in the middle of baking.

My basic “equipment” includes:

  • a stand mixer, which I use mostly for dough and, sometimes whipping
  • a hand mixer (for things that aren’t dough and I don’t want to mix manually)
  • a small scale
  • different sizes and shapes of baking pans, including loaf pans
  • mixing bowls (or just large bowls – I have plastic, glass, and metal)
  • cookie sheets 
  • pie dishes
  • dry measuring cups
  • liquid measuring cups
  • whisks
  • rubber spatulas (really good for when you don’t want to leave anything in the bowl)
  • rolling pins
  • a baking mat for rolling out dough
  • baking strips
  • a good supply of baking (or parchment) paper (also round for layer cakes)

I can certainly get by without a lot of the above, but it makes baking so much simpler when I just have whatever I need at my fingertips.

In addition to the equipment, there are the baking ingredients that I try to keep in the house at all times: 

  • flour
  • white granulated sugar
  • brown sugar (light/dark – I usually keep dark)
  • confectioners sugar(powdered sugar)
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • baking soda 
  • cocoa powder
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground ginger
  • ground cloves
  • baking chocolate
  • chocolate chips
  • instant dry yeast
  • vanilla and/or vanilla sugar
  • cooking oil/cooking spray
  • margarine or butter
  • eggs
  • honey
  • instant coffee
  • various extracts (real or imitation)

I also make sure that I have the following on hand to be able to make a variety of fillings, frostings, and toppings:

  • whipping cream
  • powdered pudding mix
  • powdered sugar
  • a good chocolate spread

Then, there is the following to make last-minute quick desserts:

  • packaged pie dough or ready-made pie crusts
  • puff pastry dough

Lastly, it’s not a bad idea to keep fun toppings, such as chopped walnuts, raisins, and the oh-so-important container of sprinkles.

Having a baking pantry at the ready would let you make Really Easy Chocolate Cake without even popping out special to the store!


Want to feel better about eating such chocolatey goodness? Check out the benefits of chocolate!

Yield: 12 slices

Really Easy Chocolate Cake

Large slice of Dairy free chocolate cake on a blue and white plate with a blue and white cup of milk on a white wood table

Absolutely delicious and fluffy dairy free chocolate layer cake.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups hot water or hot black instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


    1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    2. Add water orcoffee, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until smooth. The batter should look somewhat liquidy.
    3. Line the bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans with baking (parchment) paper and spray inside of pan with cooking spray or coat with oil. **
    4. Distribute the batter evenly between the two pans.
    5. Place in oven that has been preheated to 350°F and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
    6. Remove from oven and let cool a bit.
    7. Carefully run a butter knife around the inside edge of the cake to release it. Then, flip the cake over on to a plate or cooling rack to finish cooling.
    8. Using a bread knife, slice off the uneven parts of the cake to level them so they are disk-like. *
    9. Frost and decorate as desired.


* If you wrap a very wet folded dish towel or - better yet - very wet baking strips around each of the pans, this should help keep the uneveness down to a minimum or none at all.

** If you want to make a sheet cake instead of a layer cake, use a coated/lined 9" x 13" pan.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 429mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 2gSugar: 34gProtein: 4g

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