The Winning Chocolate Cake

Shop Ingredients


1 ½ C plain flour*
1 1/4 C caster sugar
½ C dark, good-quality cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp bi-carb soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 1/2 C water (or cooled coffee)

Chocolate icing
150g chopped dark chocolate 
(50-60% cocoa solids – use dairy-free if needed)
125g butter / dairy-free olive oil spread, / 150ml coconut cream
2 Tbsp olive oil, grape seed oil or rice bran oil


Many thanks go to Raven Cretney for submitting this winning recipe for our 6th birthday chocolate cake competition.  With so many cake options it was hard to call it, but we did and with no regrets.  Thanks Raven!

She writes: “I just love this recipe from Chelsea Winter – a baker from my home Aotearoa New Zealand.  The cake is just perfect – it’s dairy AND egg free but you would never know – it’s soft and fluffy and perfectly sweet – not too much, not too little! It’s also such a stunningly simple recipe.  I share it with everyone I can and I definitely second the recommendation to use dark cocoa powder – I’ve never had such a chocolatey cake before.”

The Winning Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 170ºC.

Grease a 20cm cake tin, and lightly dust with cocoa.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Make a well in the centre, and add the wet ingredients. Gently combine with the whisk until you have a fairly smooth batter. (Look, this recipe seems pretty indestructible – you could probably afford to throw everything together and mix it with a fork directly in the cake tin. Get your kids to try it, no doubt it would still be great. But I suspect we add the wet things to the dry sifted ingredients out of respect for best lump-free practice and age old baking traditions).

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack. Dust with icing sugar, or try the chocolate icing recipe below.

This cake should freeze well, or keep for up to 4 days if need be. In the original blog, Chelsea also mentions serving it from the tin while it is still hot, kind of like a pudding with ice cream. Which sounds pretty good in this cold winter spell, might do that next time.


Chelsea’s Chocolate icing

Place the chopped chocolate and butter (or coconut cream) in heatproof bowl, then set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl).
 Stir until melted, then remove the bowl from the saucepan stir in the oil.

Leave to cool at room temperature until it’s thick enough to spread on the cake. If you try and speed it up by putting it in the fridge, keep an eye on it as it will need stirring often.

Hints and Tips

*Use 1/2 C olive oil if substituting wheat flour for a gluten free flour mix.

Apple cider or wine vinegar can be used instead of balsamic.

Use muffin tins instead and bake for about 25 minutes.


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  1. I just made this cake today without the coffee or icing, just some vanilla ice cream on top. It is wonderful and so delicious and incredibly easy. You will not miss the eggs, it is a keeper. In my oven, it took 44 minutes. Thanks.

  2. Looks good, but the icing is not vegan if you use butter! I do have all the ingredients except balsamic vinegar – can it be made without?

    1. Hi Sue, yes use your preference for the icing – we have included some options to suit different folks. Definitely worth trying without the balsamic vinegar!