Crazy Chocolate Cake

As an avid baker with a father with a severe egg allergy, I have baked many a Crazy Chocolate Cake in my time. I guess the reason it’s called ‘crazy’ is that the recipe is dairy-free and egg-free. In today’s world it probably needs to be gluten-free too, to cover all bases.

The recipe I’ve used for most of my life came from a hospital fundraising cookbook, and was okay, but nothing too special. I recently stumbled upon this recipe from Chelsea Winter and was intrigued. Balsamic vinegar? Would using dark cocoa powder make a difference? And… how good does that glossy chocolate icing look??? I had to give it a go.


It turned out pretty well. The texture is light and soft. Pleasingly, there is no soapy baking soda taste. I’m not sure how much of an effect the cocoa powder had. I didn’t realise until stumbling upon Joy’s informative post a while ago, but there is a difference between natural and dark cocoa powders. Dark (Dutch) cocoa powder has been alkalised, whereas natural cocoa powder is acidic. Because the leavening of this cake relies on the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar, I guess the pH of cocoa powder can have an impact. I used Cadbury Bournville Premium Dark Cocoa powder. I haven’t tried with natural cocoa powder, as I think most cocoa powder might be Dutch processed in NZ. It’s kinda hard to tell though, as the Bournville Cocoa really doesn’t look that dark.

You’ll also be pleased to know that the cake doesn’t taste like balsamic vinegar, haha.


To top the cake you can dust with icing sugar or try the icing suggested here, with or without dairy, depending in your dietary requirements. The icing is very tasty and light. Just be aware that it doesn’t set hard at room temperature, well, at least not in this warm summer weather!

Crazy Chocolate Cake


For the cake:

  • 225g flour
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 40g dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla essence or extract
  • 1 1/4 cups of cooled coffee

For the icing:

  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125g butter or dairy-free spread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, conventional bake. Place the shelves so the cake can sit just below the centre of the oven.
  2. Grease a 20cm round cake tin and dust with cocoa powder.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk together and then make a well in the centre.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the well and use a whisk to mix until combined. A few lumps may remain. Pour into prepared tin.
  5. Bake for about 40minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. To serve, either dust with icing sugar, or make the icing described below.

For the icing:

  1. Combine chopped chocolate and butter/dairy-free spread in a double boiler. Heat and stir until butter has melted.
  2. Remove from heat and add oil. Mix.
  3. Allow to cool before icing. You may place it in the fridge to cool faster, but keep a close eye on it and stir regularly, as it will set quickly.

3 thoughts on “Crazy Chocolate Cake”

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