Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake & a Surpise Party

Vegan Chocolate Cake. It comes together easily and is perfect for tea time.Listen up, everybody! The rumors are true. I’m throwing a surprise party and everyone’s invited. For whom, you ask? This grande soiree is for Margaret Fox.

I mean…I don’t know her personally, but what the hell? If she’s responsible for one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made, then she deserves a vat of bourbon and a chocolate cake. One that she doesn’t have to bake herself, of course.

I spotted the recipe for Margaret Fox’s Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake on Food52. Immediately, I knew that it was something I had to make and probably very soon. One of the great things about this recipe is its simplicity. If you’re a baker, you probably have everything you need on hand. There will be no trips to the market because your boyfriend finished the eggs this morn. And don’t worry if your milk has gone south; you won’t need it, this go ’round. You’re good. Sit back and relax. You’ve got this.

Vegan Chocolate Cake. It comes together easily and is perfect for tea time.

You can file this recipe under quick. Well, not as quick as Usain Bolt, but quick nonetheless. Quick as in: your batter has come together, you’ve placed it in the pan and it’s all set to go, but your oven hasn’t preheated yet. What? Yeah, this recipe is no joke. Just think of all the things you can do with that extra time. You could wash all the dirty dishes before you even open your oven door. Now, I’m not telling you to do that, I’m just saying it’s a possibility.

Vegan Chocolate Cake. It comes together easily and is perfect for tea time.

Full disclosure: if you’re looking for a super-chocolatey cake, I’d give this one a pass. However, it’s super moist, pairs well with a straightforward icing and will be ready in 45 minutes-start to finish. I went with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar which made the preparation even quicker. As a result, I had just enough time to wrap Margaret Fox’s gift. I hope she likes Chia Pets.


Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

Recipe Slightly adapted from Food52

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional, for dusting)
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Sift. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  3. Whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. If lumpy, whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch round cake pan. (I used an 8-inch which I lined with a greased aluminum foil round)
  5. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter, or drop from 6 inches to the counter several times to pop air bubbles.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed gently. (My 8-inch cake needed the full 30 minutes)
  7. Cool before removing from the pan and dusting with confectioners' sugar, or frosting if desired.


Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake Photo Notes

After being away from the studio for a few weeks due to illness, it was good to be back in the saddle.  Unfortunately, I share a studio with a couple of fashion photographers and I’m the Felix Unger of our crew.  Needless to say, the studio was in rough shape.  Models are some of the messiest people on earth, so this ended up being more of a studio decontamination than photo shoot.


This was going to be pretty simple.  I wanted to replicate window light with a bit of on-axis fill.  The large simulated window would hopefully reduce the specularity created by the shiny surface of the easy vegan chocolate cake.


I setup a light panel made up of 400 leelux as my main light 45 degrees behind the cake and used a silver umbrella for on-axis fill.  I also added a white bounce card opposite the main light.  I dialed in the exposure with my trusty Sekonic L-758dr and everything went according to plan.


The real challenge wasn’t the lighting but the styling.  A round dark cake without frosting isn’t the most photogenic object, so I decided to do something graphic and focus on the shape from above.  To finish off the shoot, Mondo cut the cake and we did the traditional commercial shot with a slice on a plate.  Overall, it was a pretty easy shoot with a clean studio as the payoff.

Set Shot

Vegan Cake photo Setup


Tech Notes

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 48mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/11

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