The best thing about this chocolate cake is what it does not have. No eggs or milk, and it's easy to make. ^_^ I found this recipe in the Student's Vegetarian Cookbook, Revised: Quick, Easy, Cheap, and Tasty Vegetarian Recipes.
A note on greased vs. ungreased pans: The book says you can mix all the ingredients right in the baking pan, but I always mix them in another bowl and then pour into a foil-lined and greased baking pan. This makes it easier to remove for cooling.
Yields 6 to 8 servings
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup veggie oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp plain red or white vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 190C (375F).
2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar in a glass, ceramic or stainless-steel baking pan (9-inch round, 8-inch square, or 9 x 6-inch rectangle).
3. In a small bowl, combine the water, oil and vanilla. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, and whisk with a fork to combine. Add the vinegar and stir just until the vinegar is distributed around the batter. (There will be color variations in the batter from the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda.)
4. Pour into lined and greased pan and bake for 25 or 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and call your friends.
For variation, try substituting 1/8 cup to 1/4 cups of the white flour with buckwheat flour. Or add 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.
For a decorative design like the one pictured, you'll need to buy a deco sheet—available at Ito Yokado or Ikea—and place it on the cake, finely sprinkling the powdered sugar over it. A Japanese tea sift, sold at Ito Yokado, or any other fine-mesh strainer, helps with this. Of course, you can also draw your own deco and shape it with a knife, or, if you're really patient, draw and cut your own deco sheet!
I haven't tried other toppings because it's hard to find vegan ones. Silken tofu can be used as a cream substitute, and margarine for butter, but I haven't experimented with any of those.
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.