My insatiable sweet tooth knows almost no bounds, so cake is something I take seriously. There are three that I make on rotation at home. One: a banana buttermilk loaf from my friend and soon-to-be royal-wedding-cake-maker, Claire Ptak. And then there are these two: a dense, gooey (and incidentally vegan) chocolate cake;made with coconut oil (as much of a hit with my two year old as it is my vegan brother) and a loaf cake peppered with flecks of rosemary and chunks of chocolate and which uses olive oil instead of butter. The rosemary and chocolate are an unexpectedly subtle pairing, which I adore. This is a less sweet cake, almost fudgy, dotted with chunks of chocolate with a delicate herbal back-note. It’s so good that, if I got married again, I’d have it as a layer in my wedding cake.
Vegan chocolate fudge cake (pictured above)
This is such an easy cake to make: no creaming, no sifting. Be sure to use a tight-fitting cake tin as the batter is quite wet and will run out if there are any gaps.
Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Cool 30 min
For the cake
225g plain or light spelt flour
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 good pinch salt
250g dark muscovado sugar
75g coconut oil
1½ tsp vinegar (I use cider)
For the icing
75g coconut oil
50g dark muscovado sugar
1½ tbsp cocoa
150g dark chocolate (70% cacao), finely chopped
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Grease an 18cm round springform cake tin with oil and line the base with baking parchment.
Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan with 60ml cold water. Heat until the coconut oil is melted, making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, then turn off the heat, add the chocolate and leave it to sit. After about a minute, whisk until you have a dark glossy icing and set aside. It should be cool and thick by the time the cake has baked and cooled.
For the cake, whisk the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa together in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps of bicarbonate of soda.
In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, 375ml of just-boiled water, the coconut oil and vinegar. When the coconut oil has melted, stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. When it is ready, the cake should come away from the edges of the tin and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Pour over the icing and decorate as you wish – I have used a few flowers here, but chopped nuts and grated chocolate are also favourites.
Chocolate, olive oil and rosemary loaf
You can use a standard olive oil here; it doesn’t need to be extra virgin. It pairs wonderfully with rosemary, but I have also made this by nestling a few bay leaves in the top of the batter instead. You could also replace the rosemary with orange zest or the seeds from a vanilla pod.
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Makes 1kg loaf
300g light spelt or plain flour
125g golden caster or light muscovado sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
1 good pinch sea salt
3 medium eggs
250ml olive oil
150ml milk (whole dairy milk or whatever alternative you choose)
2 sprigs rosemary, needles only, finely chopped
150g dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1cm pieces
2tbsp demerara sugar
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Oil and line a 1kg loaf tin. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and use a whisk to mix together, making sure there are no lumps of baking powder.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and mix. Now fold the olive oil mixture into the dry ingredients, gently mixing until just combined, but no more: for a light cake, don’t overmix.
Stir in most of the chocolate, saving a little for the top. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Scatter the rest of the chocolate on top, pushing the pieces down into the mixture a little so they are half covered, then scatter over the demerara sugar for a crunchy top.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.