A Magic in the Kitchen: Dairy-free Chocolate Cake

You may think this to be one of those posts where authors claim to do great things (in the kitchen or somewhere else): astounding, astonishing, surprising things. Sort of “we want to surprise you with special effects”. Or rather, sort of “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe”. Well, this is not that kind of post, though in a sense what happens can really be seen as a magic.

Ok. No, no. Put wands and witchcraft aside for a moment. We aren’t going to learn how to perform a spell. We’re learning a little bit of chemistry.


Yep. Chemistry. Nothing to do with element tables or formula. Just a little reaction. Because this chocolate cake works thanks to a reaction. Don’t ask me which one because I ain’t that genius at chemistry. All you need to know is that combining baking soda, vinegar and oil you can obtain a soft and perfectly risen cake. Without baking powder. But what’s more important, without milk, butter or eggs. That is, a wonderfully delicious and healthy vegan cake.

One may object that such a dairy-free cake tastes like air. Wrong! I claim (and with me, and all those who had to chance to have a slice) that it’s one of the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever tried. With a great advantage: it’s lighter and healthier than common chocolate cakes (that is, you have never enough of it…). Moreover, it’s quick to make (about 30 minutes to prepare and bake) and extremely clean (you can mix ingredients directly into the baking dish).

For this recipe, I must thank a friend of mine who gently passed it to me (she had received from a friend of her’s called Cindy: that’s why we call it Cindy’s chocolate cake or the “chemical reaction” cake). Well, whatever you choose to call it, please try it because you surely won’t regret it.

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp oil (not olive oil)
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 cup water

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Baking time: 20-25 minutes

Sift all dry ingredients into a baking dish (11″ x 7″ or 10″ round) and mix well. Make three indentations in the combined ingredients and fill with oil, vinegar and vanilla.

Pour 1 cup of water over the ingredients and mix well, making sure there are no big lumps in the corner.

Bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes.

Sift lots of sugar on top when it’s cool.

Una magia in cucina: torta al cioccolato senza latticini

Potreste pensare che questo sia uno di quei post dove gli autori dichiarano di fare grandi cose (in cucina o altrove): cose incredibili, fantastiche, sorprendenti. Qualcosa del tipo “volevamo stupirvi con effetti speciali”. O meglio, qualcosa del tipo “ho visto cose che voi umani non potreste immaginare”. Beh, questo non è quel genere di post, anche se quello che succede qui potrebbe davvero essere considerato una magia.

Ok. No, no. Mettete via per un attimo bacchette e stregonerie. Non stiamo per imparare un incantesimo. Siamo qui per imparare un po’ di chimica.


Già. Chimica. Niente a che vedere con tavole degli elementi o formule. Solo una piccola reazione. Perché questa torta al cioccolato funziona grazie a una reazione chimica. Non chiedetemi quale perché io non sono un genio in chimica. Tutto ciò che dovete sapere è che, combinando bicarbonato di sodio, aceto e olio, otterrete una torta soffice e perfettamente lievitata. Senza lievito. Ma, ancora più importante, senza latte, burro o uova. Vale a dire una torta vegan deliziosa e salutare.

Qualcuno potrebbe obiettare che una torta senza latticini come questa non sappia di nulla. Sbagliato! Dichiaro ufficialmente (e con me tutti coloro che ne hanno assaggiato una fetta) che questa è una delle torte al cioccolato più buone mai mangiate. Con un grande vantaggio: è più leggera e salutare delle normali torte al cioccolato (cioè, non se ne mangia mai abbastanza…). Inoltre è velocissima da preparare (30 minuti tra preparazione e cottura) e molto pulita (potete mescolare gli ingredienti direttamente nella tortiera).

Per questa ricetta devo ringraziare un’amica che me l’ha passata (e che l’ha ricevuta a sua volta da un’amica di nome Cindy: ecco perché la chiamiamo la torta al cioccolato di Cindy o la torta a reazione chimica). Beh, in qualunque modo la vogliate chiamare, provatela perché di sicuro non ve ne pentirete.

1 1/2 tazza di farina
1 tazza di zucchero
3 cucchiai di cacao amaro in polvere
1 cucchiaino di bicarbonato di sodio
1/2 cucchiaino di sale
5 cucchiai di olio (non di oliva)
1 cucchiaio di aceto
1/2 cucchiaino di vaniglia (o una fialetta, opzionale)
1 tazza di acqua

Tempo di preparazione: 5-10 minuti
Tempo di cottura: 20-25 minuti

Setacciare tutti gli ingredienti secchi in una tortiera (rettangolare o tonda del diametro di 24 cm) e mescolare bene. Fare tre buchi negli ingredienti e riempirli con olio, aceto e vaniglia. 

Versare una tazza d’acqua sugli ingredienti e mescolare bene, facendo attenzione a non lasciare bolle negli angoli della tortiera. 

Infornare a 180°C per 20-25 minuti.

Raffreddare e cospargere di zucchero a velo.

  1. Haha, aw I was bummed about not learning a spell today. :-p Maybe for your next post? This cake looks ah-mazing, Rita! A good ‘n fluffy chocolate cake always fits perfectly into a woman’s day, no?

  2. I love the crumb, it’s just so light looking. I’m all for science projects in the kitchen. Especially when they yield results like this.

  3. I believe you, though you may have a little competition as i believe i have created the perfect chocolate cake made with drinking chocolate. lol

    • Rita said:

      Really? Drinking chocolate? I’m curious to see this exceptional cake!! 😉

  4. Wow, this looks so simple! Even though I barely have enough time to cook dinner as it is, I just may give it a shot… I’m such a big chocolate fan that I’ll just switch my dinner to a salad instead so I have time to make this cake!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Rita said:

      Thanks to you for stopping by! 😀
      You really should try it: it takes a little time to make it! And it’s really worth your time… 🙂

      • I was so bummed, I didn’t have quite all of the ingredients last night. But I’m going to the store soon so I can satisfy my chocolate craving!

  5. Laura said:

    Thank you Rita! I’ve been waiting for this recipe since I tasted yours! It was delicious!

    • Rita said:

      I knew you’d be happy!! 😛 Now you can make it yourself!! 🙂

  6. Rita what a beautiful looking cake. I am going to make this next week. Will let you know how it turns out. I will probably make it into cupcakes – I can’t resist cupcakes.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Rita said:

      I was thinking about making cupcakes with this recipe, too, but I was afraid they didn’t turn out good. Let me know if you try tis experiment: I’m curious! 🙂

  7. Cindy said:

    Well, as it is called Cindy’s chocolate cake, I shall simply have to make it. Is baking soda the same as bicarbonate of soda?

    • Rita said:

      Right, this is the cake for you!! 🙂
      Yep, baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are the same. Just a different way to call the same thing.

  8. Amanda said:

    Wow, this cake looks so very light and lovely. I adore anything chocolate, so I’ll be giving this one a try soon, thanks Rita!

  9. summersher said:

    Looks beautiful! Definitely perfect for a chocoholic like me!
    Happy Easter, Rita!

    • Rita said:

      Happy Easter to you, too!! 🙂

  10. That is my kind of cake! (Although I must confess that I’d be tempted to try olive oil, though!)

    • Rita said:

      Honestly, I’ve never tried with olive oil and I don’t know what would happen, but maybe it’s worth trying… 😛

  11. Oooo, now I’m curious! I was always terrible in science subjects but I think I could do this one. Thanks Rita….it looks very light 🙂

  12. I finally got around to making your chocolate cake, and WOW it’s delicious!! It’s so moist, I’m impressed! I couldn’t resist trying a piece (well, actually 2…) before it cooled and I could sift the sugar on top, but this just may be my new favorite chocolate cake recipe. Thank you SO much for sharing!!

    • Rita said:

      I’m so glad you like it! To me it’s the best chocolate cake ever!!

      • I just love how it doesn’t need eggs. Do you have any other cake recipes that are like that as well?

      • Rita said:

        I’m sorry, but that’s the only one I have! At least, it’s worth it… 😛

      • No worries! I was thinking about tweaking it to turn it into a vanilla cake. Maybe add an extra 1/4 c. of flour instead of the cocoa powder and increase the vanilla to 2 or 3 tsp. It’ll probably have to wait until next weekend, but I’m excited to try!

      • Rita said:

        Yummy! Let me know how it turns out if you try this experiment! 😛

      • I definitely will! I’m thinking of using it to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day. She visited me yesterday and enjoyed the chocolate cake so much that I thought a vanilla version would go over well too!

      • I made the vanilla version into cupcakes, and I just tried my first one. Just as delicious as your chocolate version! I omitted the cocoa powder and used 2 c. flour instead. I also decreased the oil to 1/4 c. and increased the vanilla to 1 tbsp. You and your cake recipe have made my day two weeks in a row–thank you!!

  13. This is great Rita!! I HAVE to make this cake…I’ll let you know about the result 😉 thanks

    • Rita said:

      Aceto di vino rosso. In genere uso quello perché è quello che ho in casa :P, ma anche gli altri dovrebbero andare. 😉
      Grazie a te per la visita! 😀

  14. I’ve converted NB onto healthy cakes after my carrot ‘cake’ experiment, this one might be next!! Lovely post 😀

    • Rita said:

      Thank you and thanks for stopping by! 😀

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