Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for my grandmother’s 86th birthday.  She has a severe allergy to whey, which you find in most milk products, so this dense little chocolate cake has no milk, no butter, and does not even contain an egg.  It’s also super-quick and very easy to prepare.  I got the recipe from The Joy of Cooking (2006 edition, page 723), but I left out the salt, as always.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan, or line the bottom with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used cake and pastry flour because I have tons lying around), 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Add to this 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Whisk until the batter is glossy and smooth.

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.

Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for ten minutes, before sliding a knife around the edges and turning the cake out onto the rack itself. 

Let it cool completely before removing to a plate and icing. Frost with your favourite icing, or simply sprinkle confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) over top using a sieve.  I used a lemon slice squeezer (one of the many weird and wonderful gadgets in my parents’ kitchen) to create a fish shape on top of the cake.

Dust the icing sugar over the area you wish to cover.

Carefully remove the shape.

Aaaand you’re done.  Fancy.

Author: allythebell

A corgi. A small boy. A sense of adventure. Chaos ensues.

2 thoughts on “Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake”

  1. I grew up eating this cake. Mom called it ‘SCREWBALL CAKE’ and she got the recipe 48 years ago when she was in the hospital after delivering my younger sister. I think the cake recipe was a product of the depression when eggs and milk were hard to find. Mom’s recipe is for a 9″ X 13″ cake pan! She often uses coconut sprinkled vanilla frosting.


    1. Screwball cake — how interesting. It makes sense then that it would be in the Joy of Cooking, which in its various editions had many ways to deal with rationing et cetera. Thanks for the information!


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