Birthday cake recipe

Crazy Italian chocolate cake (egg free chocolate cake)

The amazing egg-free chocolate cake that’s also dairy-free and takes under 10 minutes.

This incredible cake defies belief. It’s based on a recipe I was served up by an Italian family for my birthday dinner when I was in Tuscany – I fell in love! It’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had – made with gorgeous Italian olive oil and balsamic vinegar (don’t worry, you can’t taste it). It’s sensationally decadent, moist and fudgy. The cake is egg free, dairy-free and takes under 10 minutes to prepare. It’s my go-to when I need something delicious, on the double.

The icing I’ve made here uses butter, but I’ve included options for a dairy-free version (you will find with some brands their 50% cocoa dark chocolate is dairy-free). I’ve also tried making the cake with plain gluten-free flour mix and it’s still lovely.

And it’s also beautiful as a dessert, served warm straight from the tin with lashings of ice cream. For a larger ‘special occasion’ cake, make two cakes with two lots of the mixture and sandwich them together with extra icing.

Prep time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – 50 minutes
Serves 6-8


1 ½ cups standard flour (or gluten-free flour mix without raising agent)
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
½ cup dark, good-quality baking cocoa (look for ‘dark’ on the label for best results)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or rice bran or grape seed)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups water (or cooled coffee)

Chocolate icing
150g chopped dark chocolate 
(50% cocoa solids – use dairy-free if needed)
125g butter (or dairy-free olive oil spread, or 150ml coconut cream)
2 tbsp olive oil, grape seed oil or rice bran oil


Preheat the oven to 170c conventional bake.

Grease a 20cm cake tin and dust all over with cocoa (make sure the tin isn’t too big or the cake will be a little flat).

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine evenly. Make a large well in the centre.

Pour the olive oil, vinegar, vanilla and water into the well. Using the whisk, start in the middle and stir the mixture in a circular motion until the mixture is combined to a smooth batter – don’t worry if there a few small lumps, these will disappear in the oven.

Bake just below the centre of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.

If you’re going to serve it as a cake, let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. You can either dust with icing sugar to serve or ice it (see below).

For a delicious pudding, dust with icing sugar and serve straight hot, straight from the tin, with ice cream.

The cake keeps in an airtight container for about 4 days (if it actually lasts that long I’ll be surprised).

Chocolate icing

Place the chopped chocolate and butter (or spread/coconut cream) in heatproof bowl, then set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl).
 Stir until melted, then remove the bowl from the saucepan stir in the oil.

Leave to cool at room temperature until it’s thick enough to spread on the cake. If you try and speed it up by putting it in the fridge, keep an eye on it as it will need stirring often.


From the Chelsea Winter Scrumptious cook book