Most all cakes and desserts in stores contain palm oil. Cake mixes include palm oil plus many chemicals. The great news? It’s easy to make your own with this palm oil free chocolate cake recipe.
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t love baking. However, I needed to learn to bake everything from scratch because my son has a palm oil allergy and intolerance.
As we learned to live without palm oil, one of the most daunting things was thinking of baking. What would I do for his birthday cake?
I was so nervous when I was making that first birthday cake. My son was having friends over for his birthday party. I wanted it to look nice and also to taste great. I wanted him to be proud of it and not feel like he was missing out eating what other kids can eat.
Most every birthday party he goes to, he is unable to eat the cake. He’s fine with it but for his party, I wanted it to be sure it was something he could enjoy safely.
Making That First Cake
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Before we learned palm oil was making him sick, I was someone who would buy store-bought cakes from the grocery store. If I made a cake, it would be a box using a boxed mix.
However, most every cake mix contains palm oil ingredients. Even if I could find one without it (and I would be too nervous to try), without question, the canned frosting would contain palm oil.
When I was learning about all the processed foods that contain palm oil, I was stunned to see it was in so many desserts. It was quite depressing. I started to take it slow and just focus on making a birthday cake for him.
I had no idea about how to bake a chocolate cake from scratch. But it was one thing my son really missed eating. It’s his favorite dessert.
While the cake looked and tasted fantastic, it was a lengthy recipe. I was so stressed out about it turning out right and how to apply the frosting without crumbs getting all over.
Let’s just say it was delicious, and my son and his friends loved it, but it was labor-intensive and stressful. I was new at baking and nervous about how it would turn out. I really wanted it to be special for him. It was!
Chocolate Cake Recipe Without Palm Oil
Over the years, researching a lot online, and asking a cake baker friend, we modified other recipes to make one that’s easy and fun to make. Even my children will sometimes volunteer to make it on their own. Now we make it for all of our birthdays.
We no longer buy any store-bought cakes. We make homemade desserts without palm oil instead.
It is “better” for you because you’ll be using real ingredients without chemical names.
And best of all, they don’t contain palm oil. This means the ingredients don’t contribute to deforestation to clear rain forests for palm oil plantations.
The key to making this cake palm oil free is to use pure vanilla extract, not imitation. Secondly, be sure to buy whole milk without Vitamin A Palmitate. Read labels before buying.
This chocolate cake just requires one bowl to combine ingredients. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. When you have baking ingredient staples on hand, it makes it very easy to bake from scratch.
This is a delicious homemade cake. As my baker friend explained, “It uses the right amount of leavening agent so it’s perfectly fluffy. It’s light, airy and moist.”
We’ve made this with regular flour as well as gluten free flour (tried with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour). It’s decadent either way!
Choose organic ingredients when available, and when it fits your budget.
Chocolate Cake Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 32 – 35 minutes
Total time: up to 50 minutes plus cooling time
Yield: 8 – 10 servings
Chocolate Cake Ingredients
- 2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar)
- 1-3/4 cups flour; or 1-to-1 gluten free flour
- 3/4 cup cacao powder (cocoa powder)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt or sea salt
- 1 cup milk; full fat, whole milk without Vitamin A Palmitate
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of canola oil or avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
- 1 cup boiling water
Plus extra oil and flour to grease pans
What You’ll Need for This Recipe
- Two 9″ round pans
- Large bowl
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- A way to boil water: instant kettle, microwave, stovetop
- Mixing spoon
- Hand mixer (optional)
We like using two nine inch round pans because we like to make a double layer cake. It’s also easy to take out of the pan. It looks so professional stacked!
If you don’t have these pans, you can use one 9×13 pan or two 8×8 pans.
How to Make Chocolate Cake
- Set oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
- Grease the pans. Follow with light flour dusting
- Add dry ingredients to the bowl and mix:
- Sugar, flour, cacao powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt
- Set one cup of water to boil
- Next, add in the wet ingredients to the same bowl and mix:
- Milk, oil, eggs, pure vanilla extract
- Measure and pour one cup of boiling water to same bowl and mix
- Pour half of the batter in each pan
- Bake both pans together at 350 degrees F for 32 minutes.
- After 32 minutes, check doneness buy putting a fork in the center of each pan. Add another minute or two if batter comes out on fork.
- Remove cakes from pans by gently separating cake from pan with fork, spoon, or spatula, and then gently turn upside down
- Stack together; add frosting in between if using
- Frost or add confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
We have an electric tea kettle which makes it fast and easy to boil water.
We use two 9″ round pans. Setting a 2-layer cake on a cake pedestal, cake holder, or cake stand makes a lovely presentation.
Because we don’t own a cooling rack, we set the cake on the stovetop.
Stack the two cakes together putting frosting in between. We whip up homemade palm oil free frosting in less than 10 minutes with this frosting recipe.
Note, all canned frosting in stores contains palm oil.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to five days. But know it won’t last that long!
I mentioned I was very nervous that first time I was making a chocolate cake.
What I didn’t count on was how much having the right tools can make all the difference. I went to Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought these things which helped tremendously.
- Two 9″ pans
- Cake carrier
- Frosting spreaders (large and small; came in 2-pack)
- Dishpans to hold baking ingredients
I already had:
- Mixing bowls
- Hand mixer
In the past, when I would make (boxed) cake, I would do so in a rectangular pan and cover it with foil. It didn’t look great serving from the pan.
Stacking the cakes from two round 9 inch pans makes it look more professional-looking.
One of the best things I bought was a plastic cake carrier from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s the Sweet Creations 3-Piece Cake Carrier.
I love this cake carrier because I can serve the cake from it, and then store it in the refrigerator. It’s very easy for my kids to take out from the fridge as well.
We also have a way to transport it when we go to a relative’s house and want to bring a palm oil free dessert so my son can eat it.
Another thing I like about this cake carrier is it includes a serving spatula that snaps in place in the cover. You can use it to cut and serve the cake slices. In addition, the platter itself has lines so that you can cut even slices.
Lastly, there are holes on the bottom so you can thread a ribbon through it. We never have but it can be a festive addition.
Using a frosting spreader is much easier than trying to frost with a butter knife or other utensil.
Dishpans to hold supplies
We keep our baking supplies in two dishpans in our pantry. In one, we have baking soda, baking powder, pure vanilla extract, yeast, cacao powder, organic sugar, confectioners sugar, and Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips.
In the other, we put gluten free flours, including Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-to-1 Baking Flour, almond flour, coconut flour, etc.
Pulling out these bins makes it very easy to bake cakes, cookies, waffles, make frosting, and more. We can use the time for making the dessert instead of hunting around for the ingredients.
We also have a canister of unbleached organic flour and a canister of sugar. When possible, we use organic flour and organic sugar.
When you have baking staples on hand, it makes it easy to make cakes and desserts from scratch.
Most of the time, we frost the cake with homemade frosting and that’s it. Other times, we will pipe it and make it look fancier. We only started doing that recently.
This palm oil free cake is so sweet and delicious, we don’t generally add additional toppings. However, if it’s for a birthday party, we will add M&M Milk Chocolate candies on top. In the United States, they are a palm oil free candy.
Other times, if there is a party, we will serve the chocolate cake with ice cream without palm oil. We usually choose a vanilla one to offset the chocolate.
Delicious Chocolate Cake
Thank you for being interested in making this palm oil free chocolate cake recipe. After I had the ingredients on-hand and found some easy recipes, I found it didn’t take much time at all to bake cakes from scratch.
It’s such a blessing to be able to make a chocolate cake my son can safely eat and be excited about on his birthday and for other occasions. We make this cake regularly. It’s been fun to involve my kids.
Truly, this is a bakery-worthy chocolate cake.
Love all things chocolate? Try this chocolate milkshake. If you are looking for a fast and easy cake, try this vegan mug cake recipe. It’s perfect for a snack or dessert when you don’t want to bake an entire cake.
Baking at home means you won’t need to buy store-bought cakes which are filled with chemical preservatives and palm oil. Boxed cake mix is also filled with chemicals and palm oil ingredients. Making your own desserts means you can control the ingredients.