Cooking with Alison

Best Casual Chocolate Cake Recipe (using mayonnaise)

In Cakes on August 10, 2010 at pm

I’ve been testing chocolate cake recipes for a while now.  Although they were all good, none of them were food blog worthy.  I never thought that the first chocolate cake recipe deserving of a post would be the easiest chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever tried.

Let me count the ways I love this recipe:

The #1 reason:  I love the texture of this cake.  It’s moist and soft, with a great density and perfect crumb tightness (in my opinion).  And it doesn’t use buttermilk!  [I don’t like buttermilk.]

2.  It’s a ridiculously simple and easy recipe.  You really don’t need to use a mixer for the cake batter (you’ll need a mixer if you’re making your frosting from scratch, though).  Also, this cake doesn’t require butter, so you don’t have to worry about pre-softening butter, which means you could make this at the drop of a hat.

3.  This is the perfect casual chocolate cake.  It’s a great weeknight dessert.  This recipe isn’t about making a pretty-looking cake (although you could if you wanted to).  So if you’re just making this for your family (or if you’re like me and you’re just making it for yourself), it’s perfect because it only makes an 8 in x 8 in square cake in a single layer.  It requires minimal effort because you don’t have to remove the cake from the pan before serving, you don’t have to make a layer cake, and you frost only the top of the cake, still in the pan.  [Fewer dishes to wash.]

4.  I like the story behind this recipe.  See Cookie Madness’s blog for the full story about how she found this recipe hand written on an index card in her mom’s binder of recipe clippings.

5.  For almost a decade now, I’ve known that one of the secrets to achieving a beautifully textured cake is to add mayonnaise.  The cake recipes [containing mayonnaise] that I’ve seen simply added it to a cake mix or a standard cake recipe.  This never seemed appealing to me, because I thought it would make the cake too oily.  So I never tried it.  But when I noticed that mayonnaise is a key ingredient in this recipe (substituting for your typical butter or vegetable oil), I was finally ready [and very excited] to test this mayonnaise-in-cake theory.  It really does work.  The cake was not oily at all and you would never know there was mayonnaise in it.

Best Casual Chocolate Cake

adapted from Cookie Madness’s Troy Chocolate Cake (original recipe posted here)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellmann’s)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (Dutch-processed cocoa works but natural cocoa will give you a better chocolate flavour)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cups lukewarm water (optional:  add a small pinch of instant coffee granules)

your favourite chocolate frosting (halve your frosting recipe for this small cake)

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Lightly grease and flour an 8 inch by 8 inch square cake pan and set aside.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.  Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, egg and vanilla in a large bowl.  Using a wooden spoon, mix until well combined.   Add the dry ingredients and the water and mix until well combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and spread it out evenly pushing a little bit more into the edges.  Bake for 33 to 35 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  For cupcakes, bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack and once cooled completely, frost and serve.

  1. This sounds really good, and easy to make.Up until now my favorite ‘go-to’ chocolate cake recipe has been the “Oops I did it again” cake in Looneyspoons, so I’ll give this one a try and see how it compares. Thanks for another great recipe to try!

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  4. Opportunity knocks!! I’ve got to make a cake for my neice’s birthday this Sunday. I’m going to make this cake as well as the Looneyspoons cake, and so we’ll have a taste-off and I will get several opinions for you.

  5. Hi Ali,

    I made both cakes Saturday and we had a taste-testing on Sunday at my niece’s birthday lunch. It was really interesting as the two recipes are very different. The Looneyspoon’s cake is not meant to be frosted. Your recipe makes a well shaped, dense, moist chocolate cake with a nice fine crumb. It would take perfectly to frosting and is extremely easy to make.

    The Looneyspoon’s cake requires more ingredients and is not as pretty when done (tends to sag in the middle for some reason). It too is very dense and moist, and includes cinnamon and almond extract. It uses sour cream and a little oil (3 tbs) instead of mayonnaise.

    The outcome: The kids and my brother-in-law preferred your cake recipe. It has a much milder flavor and would complement any kind of frosting – vanilla, chocolate, cream-cheese etc.

    My mom and sister still like the Looneyspoon’s cake best, as they prefer cakes that are not frosted and liked the cinnamon/almond flavors combined with the chocolate.

    Let me know if you’d like to try the other recipe and I’ll send it to you.


    • Hi Cathy,
      I would Love a copy of your Looneyspoon’s cake recipe! 🙂 I also like cakes that don’t need frosting 🙂

      Thanks so much!

      • Hi Ali,

        I’ll bring in the recipe for you to try. I’m very interested to know what you think of it!


  6. This is a great blog, been looking for something like this for ages. keep up the good work.

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