You are going to love this old-fashioned cake recipe. This “depression cake” or “wacky cake” (as my grandmother calls it), is a cake recipe that has tested the ages and comes out on top every time.
We use basic and simple ingredients to whip up a fabulously moist and rich cake with very minimal pantry ingredients and steps. It truly doesn’t get much easier than that!
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
I have been making this basic homemade chocolate cake recipe for years and it is one of our favorites. It’s no exaggeration to say that it is literally perfect, and it only needs one bowl! We don’t even need eggs or milk to get fabulously tasty results.
This recipe is a twist on my grandmother’s version and the big difference is that I use olive oil. Baking with olive oil helps to give a deeper flavor and nicer texture to the cake as well.
Ingredients for this Homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe
- All-purpose flour
- Cocoa powder
- Baking soda
- Granulated sugar
- Olive oil
- Vanilla Extract
For the exact amounts needed, please see the recipe card below.
What ingredient makes a cake moist and fluffy?
For this cake, the key ingredients to making it moist and fluffy is the olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Not over mixing the cake will also contribute to the fully texture of the cake.
How to make Homemade Chocolate Cake with Olive Oil
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda).
- Whisk in the sugar and then create a well in the center.
- Pour your wet ingredients (olive oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water) into the well of the dry ingredients.
- Whisk until the mixture is just combined and there are no lumps.
- Pour the batter into a greased and parchment-lined 9 ½ inch springform pan.
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and then place your filled pan on it. Bake in the springform pan for 45-50 minutes, checking after 40 minutes. The top of the cake should appear set and a toothpick should be able to come out clean.
Olive Oil Chocolate Cake Substitutes
- Do not substitute baking soda for baking powder. The cake will not turn out well.
- Olive oil should be used in this recipe, other oils may be substituted but they will change the flavor and texture of the cake.
- You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar may give more depth to the chocolate flavor in the cake.
Chocolate Cake Recipe Tips
- Do NOT over mix your batter – whisk it together until it’s combined and there are no lumps, and then stop. The sifting and creating a well in the dry ingredients will help eliminate lumps, so you shouldn’t need to whisk for more than a minute or two. The batter should be loose.
- Whatever pan you use, be sure to loosen your basic chocolate cake from the sides of the pan before you turn it out or take the springform edge off.
Olive Oil Cake Variations
You can make this cake with different baking dishes and pans. Each one takes a different baking time so plan accordingly.
- Two greased and lined 9-inch cake pans will cook for about 20-25 minutes. Check on it after 20 minutes.
- A greased 9×13 baking dish will take 30-35 minutes to bake. Check on it after 30 minutes.
Frosting Flavors For Chocolate Cake
Because this cake is so plain and simple I usually try to keep the toppings simple as well.
- A simple dusting of powdered sugar is usually my go-to when I don’t make a layered cake and just make the cake in a 9×13 pan instead.
- Adding some fresh fruit to the presentation also makes it look nicer while giving a good contrast from the rich sweet chocolate cake underneath.
Some other great frosting options are:
- This 5-Minute Coffee Frosting is an easy and amazing pairing with this cake.
- Chocolate Ganache is a simple way to frost any cake.
- For a classic frosting, try this Whipped Chocolate Buttercream.
If you need a quick homemade ice cream recipe to make with this easy chocolate cake, check out this easy homemade vanilla ice cream recipe!
Chocolate Cake Recipe FAQs
It’s called this because the recipe is a tad..wacky. In that, it doesn’t contain eggs, milk, or butter, like most other recipes for cake do. This is because in the depression era a lot of perishable foods were scarce so home bakers had to make do with ingredients that could be stored for long periods of time. Pantry staples like flour, vinegar, and oil were much easier to keep on hand and from that blossomed a simple basic cake recipe like the one before you.
It reacts with the baking soda, creating carbon dioxide, which helps to leaven the cake as it bakes. This creates a tall and fluffy cake. It also helps to add a slightly distinct flavor and to deepen the flavors already present. It’s such a fabulous recipe and the vinegar really helps to play an important role in all of it.
Olive oil chocolate cake tastes like chocolate cake! There isn’t a weird taste from the olive oil. The olive oil slightly enhances the chocolate flavor and for that reason, I recommend using it.
How long is chocolate cake good for?
This homemade cake can be good for up to 3 or 4 days if stored in a well-covered container at room temperature. If you frost it with dairy-based frosting (like butter or cream cheese) then please keep the cake stored in the fridge to prevent spoiling the frosting.
Can Olive Oil Chocolate Cake be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze olive oil chocolate cake. I recommend letting the cake cool, slicing it into individual slices, wrapping them individually, and then freezing the slices in a container or freezer bag.
More favorites from Longbourn Farm
Olive Oil Chocolate Cake
- 3 cups flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cups olive oil see note
- 2 tablespoons vinegar white or apple cider
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
- Sift dry ingredients together.
- Whisk sugar into the dry ingredients and form a well in the center.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients.
- Whisk until just combined and there are no lumps.
- Pour batter into a greased and parchment lined (just the bottom) 9 1/2-inch springform pan OR two greased and parchment lined 9-inch cake pans OR a greased 9×13 cake pan.
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and bake the springform pan for about 45-50 minutes, checking at 40. Bake two 9 inch pans for 20-25 minutes, checking at 20. Bake 9×13 pan for 30-35 minutes, checking at 30
- The top of the cake will appear set and a toothpick will come out clean.
I find this always takes me so much longer to bake than the time stated. I use the springform pan but the middle takes forever to cook. Any thoughts on what I’m doing wrong?
I would verify your oven is the temperature it is reading.
Hands down the favorite cake around here. I use it for everything. Love it!
Thank you Drinda!! So glad you love it.
This cakes is amazing! I initially made it for my granddaughter that has an egg allergy, but after making it, this will be my go-to chocolate cake recipe for any occasion!! It is so moist and delicious, it truly does not need any frosting. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
I’m so happy to hear that Amy!
Judy J Mazzanti says
Hi, I would love to make this cake today but, need to know if any particular olive oil is needed.Thanks
Hi Judy, any kind of olive oil will work.
We made this cake yesterday. Great flavor, but a bit dry. We baked it as stated for 40-45 minutes fir the 9×13. Is that the correct baking time for this pan size? It seems too long.
Hi AJ, when I’ve tested the recipe that has been the correct bake time but baking can be different depending on altitude and the weather. I’m sorry you had a less than perfect experience with the recipe!
Deborah Mary Sottile says
Can I leave out the chocolate and make it a vanilla cake?
Yes, just sub equal amounts of flour for the cocoa powder!
I made this cake for my son to take to his daycare here in Brussels. When I went to pick him up at the end of the day one woman who works there said it’s the best cake they’ve had all year and another woman came to me asked for the recipe, and also told me all the other staff loved the cake. So things are clear: the kids don’t seem to get much of the cakes the parents bring and this recipe must be good enough to hold its own against the best of European chocolate cakes. (Our daycare is full of kids from across Europe – France, Spain, Belgium, UK, German, etc.) And the recipe was literally a piece of cake. Thank you!!
Wow!! So happy to hear this. Thank you for the review!!
I hope it
Will work with Bob’s red hill 1 to 1 gluten free baking
Flour ! I’ll know very soon !!! It’s for a birthday party so sure hope it comes out !! Thanks !
I hope it works too! Let me know how it turns out.
Charles Mccarthy says
Why 3/4 cups of olive oil
It keeps the cake moist.
Made this cake tonight and it was AMAZING. I followed the recipe, but might try avocado oil next time. Not that the olive oil gave it any taste, just because I keep more avocado oil on hand. Bravo for a great throw together recipe when you have a sweetooth!
Hi Karen! I’m so glad you liked the cake! I think avocado oil would work perfectly. Thank you!
Rene Mcguigan says
Can 1 cup honey and 1 cup sugar be used? I always try to use honey in recipes. Can’t wait to make this cake.
Hi Rene, I’ve never tested the recipe with honey. I would be very hesitant to do a straight across trade. Honey will add more liquid and the concentration of sugar in the recipe will be different.
Should you use all-purpose or self-rising flour
Hi Tami! Use all-purpose for this recipe.
Can we use something else besides vinegar?
I don’t like the test and have allergy
You won’t taste it in the cake, it reacts with the baking soda to provide lift to the cake. I haven’t tested any substitutions for it but you could try replacing it with an egg white and it would probably work ok.
Maddison Windley says
This cake was delicious! We put strawberries and whipped cream on top but it’s so good you could eat it plain just as it is.
So glad you liked it, Maddi!! Love you and your support!
What size spring form pan do I use?
I used a 9 1/2 inch pan. You can see all pan sizes and options in Step 6 in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. 🙂
The recipe halved beautifully. Super moist, easy, and delicious!
I’m going to try to half this cake myself. Then once cooled, add cookies and cream ice cream on top inside of my springform pan.
Super moist and easy to make! Love it.