Vegan Devil’s Food Cake (Epic Chocolate Cake)

This vegan devil's food cake is intensely chocolatey and surprisingly light and airy. Layers of moist vegan chocolate cake and Swiss chocolate buttercream make it devilishly delicious, perfect for Halloween or as a birthday cake!
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
4.79 from 28 votes

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layered vegan chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and chocolate shavings.

I don’t know about you but something about this year has got me into the spooky season mood more than ever. I just want to curl up with scary movies, light some candles and eat this vegan devil’s food cake. Speaking of which, don’t be fooled by the name. One bite of this and you will be in chocolate heaven, promise!

What’s is devil’s food cake?

Devil’s food cake has an intense dark chocolate colour thanks to the combination of cocoa powder and baking soda. It’s hard to pin point the exact origin for devils chocolate cake as it’s quite an old recipe, but according to cooksinfo.com, it become popular in the 1900’s. Funnily enough, even though modern recipes call for cocoa powder, some of the older versions seem to have used melted chocolate.

By the sound of the name you might be expecting a rich and fudgey chocolate cake. However, according to Eat This Not That!, devils food chocolate cake is often considered the counterpart of angel food cake. Making it surprising light and airy, but with a deep chocolate flavour. It’s often made using oil which gives it a a lighter texture than using butter, thus one less ingredient to veganize!

This vegan chocolate cake is:

  • Moist and rich without being overly heavy
  • Surprisingly light and fluffy
  • Decadent with a deep chocolate flavour
  • Devilishly good (had to be done)
  • Perfect for special occasions like Halloween or Christmas, it would also make the most epic vegan chocolate birthday cake!
 

vegan chocolate cake with chocolate shavings and dark background.

Ingredients overview

  • Plain flour/all purpose flour
  • Unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder: I wanted this vegan chocolate cake to taste rich and decadent without being too heavy so I opted for Dutch processed cocoa. This helps get that intense chocolate flavour and dark colour we’re going for this vegan devil’s food cake. Dutch processed cocoa powder is alkalised, you can check the package for acidity regulators such as potassium carbonates if you’re unsure of your brand. Raw cacao powder cannot be used for this recipe as it will react with the baking soda and throw off the acidity and flavour of the recipe.
  • Coffee: This intensifies the flavour of chocolate desserts, I rarely bake without it when chocolate is involved!
  • Caster sugar and muscovado sugar
  • Soya milk: Mixed with apple cider vinegar to create a vegan “buttermilk”. This gives the cake some rise and keeps it feeling light and not too dense. 
  • Olive oil: I love using olive oil in baked cakes but you can also use an alternative neutral tasting oil such as rapeseed or sunflower.
  • Vegan yoghurt: I recommend using thick Greek style if you can get your hands on it. This helps to keep moisture in the chocolate cake.
  • Aquafaba: To keep this cake light and airy, we’re replacing egg whites with aquafaba (chickpea brine).
  • Baking powder and baking soda: These are our leavening agents for this vegan chocolate cake. Both ingredients help the cake to rise while the additional baking soda helps to neutralise the acid from the coffee and muscovado sugar. 
  • Vanilla extract and sea salt: Of course we can’t bake a cake without a good hit of vanilla to intensify those flavours and sweetness.
 

ingredients to make vegan chocolate cake.

How to make this recipe (with step-by-step images)

(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)

Decide what size to make your cake

The measurements of this cake are completely up to you. This recipe will make 4 x 6 inch cakes OR 3 x 7 inch cakes. However, to keep that buttercream to cake ratio 50:50 (iykyk) we’ll be slicing each baked cake in half to make double the layers. So that’s 8 layers if you’re using 6 inch pans, or 6 layers if you’re using 7 inch pans. If you want to keep this as a simple two layer sandwich cake you could simply use 2 x 9 inch pans. Note that the baking time for larger pans may be slightly longer, so keep a close eye on the cakes. Check they are done by inserting a wooden skewer – it should come out clean.

Prep your wet ingredients

First make the chocolate mixture by adding the cacao powder, muscovado sugar, coffee and vanilla to a medium bowl. Add ½ cup boiled water and whisk well until the mixture is smooth. Set this aside to cool and prepare the rest of the wet ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and caster sugar for a minute. Next add the aquafaba and whisk again. Then add the vegan yoghurt and whisk again to combine. Add the vegan buttermilk (soya milk and apple cider vinegar) to the bowl and whisk until mixed. Lastly add the cooled cacao mixture and whisk again to combine.

Prep your dry ingredients

To another bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and whisk together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and use a spatula to fold everything together until you have a smooth batter. Divide the batter into the lined cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes. Check they are ready by inserting a skewer, it should come out clean.

Refrigerate the cakes

Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15-20 minutes and then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool further. Refrigerate the cakes in an airtight container until ready to use. Chilling the cakes for a few hours makes them easier to work with and decorate.

vegan devils food cake on cooling rack.

Frosting the cakes

I recommend my vegan chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream for this recipe, paired with the chocolate cake and chocolate shavings you’ll be in tripe chocolate heaven! Once you have made your buttercream transfer it to a piping bag and get to decorating.

To create a 6 tiered cake, use a serrated knife to carefully cut each cake through the middle to form 2 layers. Alternatively you can keep them as is and make a thick 3 layer cake.

To assemble the cake, pipe a little buttercream on your turntable to secure the cake. Make sure you reserve about a third of the buttercream for the top and sides of the cake. Place the first layer of cake and follow with a layer of piped buttercream. Continue this process for the remaining layers, then pipe the sides and top with the remaining buttercream.

vegan chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream against dark background.

For garnish

So this step is “optional”, but you’ve come this far, I’m rooting for you!

Adding a lavish layer of dark chocolate shavings to this vegan chocolate cake makes it even more devilishly tasty. 

The best way to get those beautiful chocolate curls is by first melting the chocolate and setting it in the freezer.  I don’t usually wear gloves in the kitchen because I find the waste completely unnecessary however, for this job I do recommend it as it’s going to get messy! Grate the chocolate. If the block of chocolate begins to soften, place it back in the freezer to set. Gently press the grated chocolate into the sides and on top of the cake and bon appetit!

slice of vegan layered chocolate cake.

More frosting ideas

 

Storage instructions

This cake is best served at room temperature so I recommend making it just before or a few hours before serving and keeping out for serving. You can keep the cake out at room temperature for up to a day and after that, store in the fridge in an airtight container if possible. Allow it to come to room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

chocolate cake for Halloween.

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layered vegan chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and chocolate shavings.

Vegan Devil's Food Cake (Epic Chocolate Cake)

4.79 from 28 votes
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This vegan devil's food cake is intensely chocolatey and surprisingly light and airy. Layers of moist vegan chocolate cake and Swiss chocolate buttercream make it devilishly delicious, perfect for Halloween or as a birthday cake!
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings 15

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup cacao powder Dutch processed
  • ½ cup muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups caster sugar (superfine)
  • ¾ cup olive oil or neutral tasting oil
  • 4 tbsp aquafaba *see recipe notes
  • 4 tbsp vegan yoghurt I recommend Greek style
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda sifted
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Frosting

Garnish

  • 7 oz vegan dark chocolate optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F). Line the base of three 7" cake tins with a circle of parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray. Or if using 6" cake tins, use four cake pans.
  • Add the cacao powder, muscovado sugar, coffee and vanilla to a medium bowl. Add ½ cup boiled water and whisk well until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soya milk and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl, stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and caster sugar for a minute. Add the aquafaba and whisk again. Then add the vegan yoghurt and whisk again to combine. Add the vegan buttermilk mixture to the bowl and whisk until mixed. Lastly add the cooled cacao mixture and whisk again to combine.
  • To another bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and whisk together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and use a spatula to fold everything together until you have a smooth batter.
  • Divide the batter into the lined cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes. Check they are ready by inserting a skewer, it should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15-20 minutes and then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool further. Refrigerate the cakes in an airtight container until ready to use. Chilling the cakes for a few hours makes them easier to work with and decorate.

Frosting

  • Meanwhile make the vegan chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and transfer it to a large piping bag.
  • To create a 6 tiered cake, use a serrated knife to carefully cut each cake through the middle to form 2 layers. Alternatively you can keep them as is and make a thick 3 layer cake.
  • To assemble the cake, pipe a little buttercream on your turntable to secure the cake. Make sure you reserve about a third of the buttercream for the top and sides of the cake. Place the first layer of cake and follow with a layer of piped buttercream. Continue this process for the remaining layers, then pipe the sides and top with the remaining buttercream.
  • Use a cake scraper to smooth out the sides and surface of the cake.

Garnish

  • Melt the chocolate and pour into a small container lined with cling film. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until solid. Wearing gloves, grate the chocolate. If the block of chocolate begins to soften, place it back in the freezer to set.
  • Press the grated chocolate into the sides and on top of the cake.

Storage

  • This cake is best served at room temperature so I recommend making it just before or a few hours before serving. You can keep the cake out at room temperature for up to a day and after that, store in the fridge in an airtight container if possible. Allow it to come to room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

RECIPE NOTES

* Nutritional information is based on cake without frosting.
*Aquafaba; the liquid part from tinned chickpeas. 
*Vegan chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream: For a 6 tier cake, you will need 1.5x batches of buttercream, for a 3-4 tier cake. 1x batch will be enough.

More frosting ideas

NUTRITION

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 3mg
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13 thoughts on "Vegan Devil’s Food Cake (Epic Chocolate Cake)"

  1. Can I use gluten free flour for this?
    Can I make a chocolate/coconut ganache/whipped cream instead of the Swiss frosting? Thank you!

    1. Hi Dana,

      I haven’t tried the recipe with a gluten free flour, if you do go for it I would suggest a GF all purpose though. And yes, a chocolate ganache would be lovely, in that case I would probably go for less layers and perhaps keep it to a wider 9.5″ sandwich cake or less layers in the cake to avoid having too much ganache between the layers, which can be heavier than buttercream.

  2. 5 stars
    Hey!! Totes made this yesterday!! Super delicious, and my my neighbor loved it, too! My cake decorating skills, though, leave much to be desired, aha!

    1. So happy to hear that! And I totally get it, the piping takes a bit of getting used to, I’m sure it was still gorgeous though 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Made today using 4” tins and half the recipe. Went for the coffee buttercream. Really nice cake and will make again

    1. Such a great idea to make a smaller mini cake, I love it! And happy to hear that the coffee buttercream worked well with this cake too 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Wow, Christina! this is the most beautiful cake I have ever seen! And so proud to see that cake on my plate! I will try your cake for my bday, can’t wait!!