Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (Vegan)

You'll be getting lunches again soon, but I'm still vacationing and I think you'll want this recipe as much as another packed lunch. I ate entirely too much of this, so it's good that it only makes a little cake. I baked mine in a 5 x 8 casserole dish but you could also make it in a loaf pan. It would have fit into one of my mini springform pans, if I wanted to go that route, and would have been fancier, but this was just for me, so it was fancy enough.

However, this is the sort of recipe that makes me wish I were a fancy food blogger with a fancy camera who could go viral on Pinterest. Usually, I am comfortable not being that person. My format of blog (mostly daily lunches) has long ago migrated to Instagram without me. I am not making a career of this; it's just a fun thing to do. I have a small community of readers and I love being able to interact with anyone who comments.
But sometimes, I'm really proud of my efforts, and I think I've come up with something pretty unique, and I'm mildly sad only a few people will know about it. Maybe it's better that way, though. If you make this cake for people they won't have heard of it already.

To be fair, I did not reinvent this wheel. The cake recipe is a modification of one in Betty Crocker's Just the Two of Us (2007), which is already an incidentally vegan recipe and only needs tweaking because I like frosting rather than having chocolate baked in. And the frosting is a vegan version of Debby Maugans Nakos's dairy recipe in Small-Batch Baking (2004). But this is the sort of cake I both wished I could share with someone (because I wanted someone else to be as amazed as I was by how good this combination was) and was glad I could eat all by myself (because it was so good).

The cake itself is straightforward and cheap, but it tastes incredibly decadent. It has its roots, I think, in so-called "Wacky cakes," which may be a World War II invention because they use vinegar and baking soda to rise rather than eggs and contain no butter or milk (so the only rationed ingredient would be the sugar), or maybe even older, an example of Great Depression ingenuity. It can be mixed, baked, and served in one pan, so it saves more than just foodstuffs--it saves energy.

The frosting, on the other hand, has some pricier specialty ingredients, but because it's small it won't be too extravagant. I'd say it is worth it even if it is pricey, though, because...well. Try it and you'll see. It's like Creamsicle in frosting form.

Chocolate Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (Vegan)
Serves 3-4

For the cake:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If using a loaf pan or casserole dish, you can mix the cake in the pan itself. If you're using a mini springform pan or similar, mix it in a bowl.

Stir flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork until well blended. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Blend well.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until it springs back when lightly touched in the middle. If you don't trust yourself to test it this way, insert a toothpick in the center. It should come out clean. Take care not to over bake this cake, though, or it won't be anywhere near so good.

Cool in the baking pan on a rack. If using a mini springform pan, remove from the pan after 10-15 minutes to allow to cool completely. Otherwise you can just leave the cake in the pan it was baked in to frost. Do not frost the cake until it is totally cool or it will tear.

For the frosting:

4 ounces cold vegan cream cheese (half a package of Daiya is 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons vegan butter, at room temperature (I used Earth Balance)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
The zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

Beat cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the sugar, orange zest, and vanilla and beat again until well blended. Finally, add the orange juice concentrate and blend well. If you prefer a stiffer frosting, you can add more confectioners' sugar to bring to desired consistency, but this cake is so moist and tender you want to be careful not to put a too-stiff frosting on it or it will tear.

This recipe will make 1 cup of frosting, which may be too much if you're frosting a cake in a casserole or loaf pan, but should frost the top and sides of a single layer cake perfectly. The excess, however, will make an excellent fruit dip.


  1. This sounds so great! I especially love that is makes a little cake, as I often want some cake without having to then have a whole huge one with lots of leftovers.

    1. Well, yes, or if I eat the whole thing...I have a serious weakness for cake.

  2. OMG yes!! Desserts/cakes are always a welcome addition and this cake looks and sounds so delicious! I've been craving chocolate like crazy and this would certainly do the trick!

    1. Sometime I'll share a chocolate frosting I sometimes make. There are so many frostings to choose from and nearly all of them go well with chocolate cake, but if I'm really wanting chocolate, I've got to have the chocolate frosting.

  3. "It's like Creamsicle in frosting form." -- Yum, I definitely need to try this!

    1. I will never run out of ways to get myself some Creamsicle flavor!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts