Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

By |2019-01-06T09:57:43-04:00January 27th, 2016|Cakes, Desserts|25 Comments

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This Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake recipe has stayed with me through all the stages of my life as an easy, go to chocolate cake.

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Why so crazy? Well, let’s start at the beginning, which was when I was in sixth grade…(That’s right, sixth grade…so you might want to go get yourself a drink or something :) I had a friend who was already in middle school and she was taking home economics. She told me about this new recipe they made, called, “Crazy Cake.” She said it was a super easy cake to make and it was really delicious. As a passionate, but novice baker, I was excited to try it, so she gave me the recipe.


The first reason why this cake is crazy is because you don’t even need a bowl to make it! You can mix it up in the same pan you bake it in! You just whisk together your dry ingredients, then make three holes and add your oil to one, vinegar to another and finally vanilla to the last one. Then you pour water over all of it and mix it up and bake it. Anyway, that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

The recipe she gave me on a little slip of paper, however, did not say to mix it up. And I, being a dutiful rule follower, did not mix it up. I even went against the advice of any clear thinking adult in the room because I thought the whole reason it was crazy was because you just poured the water over all of those dry ingredients and baked it and out popped a delicious chocolate cake! #fantasybaking

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And what do you think popped out of the oven? Yep, a big wet pan of flour, water and all of the other ingredients that never were incorporated. It was clear this cake needed some mixing. But it was too late. It was a soggy hot mess of cake ingredients. It was such an easy cake to make, I decided to try it again, this time, writing “MIX UNTIL WELL BLENDED” at the bottom of the recipe in my best 6th grade penmanship.

This time, out popped a fluffy, moist, delicious chocolate cake! I’m not certain, but it might have been the first cake I ever made by myself. I never frosted it. We (my brothers and sisters) could barely wait for that. We liked eating it warm out of the oven plain or with just a dusting of powdered sugar.

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The second reason why this cake is crazy is because I’ve taken it through an update and am now using olive oil in it! You know I love a good olive oil cake like this Orange Olive Oil Cake or these Lemon Thyme Olive Oil Cakelets. I figured this decades old recipe could become part of the olive oil cake family. Of course, the olive oil is perfect in it! I love using olive oil whenever possible because I prefer it’s health benefits. And, if we’re eating cake, we might as well add a few health benefits if we can, right? Oh, and then I added espresso powder, because I have it in my pantry and try to use it every time I’m baking something chocolate. The espresso powder really enhances the chocolate flavor.

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Who knew this recipe would also save me when I started baking for vegan friends? That’s right, the third reason this cake is crazy is because it needs no dairy based ingredients! (Okay, so maybe that should have been the first reason…) Anyway, you can make it even if you have no eggs, no butter, no milk on hand!

But I……I had heavy cream and chocolate on hand :) and therefore, I knew I would be making ganache. As I mentioned, I actually rarely frost this cake. But this time, yes this time, there was going to be ganache! I could hardly wait to pour that luscious chocolatey goodness all over the cake.

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I didn’t wait for the ganache to cool. As soon as it became glossy and wonderful, onto the cake it went! You’ll see some of the shots of cake pieces have glossy ganache and some of the shots are after it set up to a more fudgy frosting. Soooo good either way!

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And if you’re me, and the ganache has already set up, you take a piece and warm it for a few seconds in the microwave and have warm hot fudge cake with a scoop of ice cream. Definitely a winning move. Trust me on that. Or, be like my daughter who didn’t want it warmed up; she ate the cake first, having pulled the full layer of fudgy ganache off in one big sheet to save for last. #fathersdaughter

This Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake is crazy indeed. It’s an old cake (much older than I) and there are more than a few recipes with various names out there for it. This one is crazy easy, crazy delicious  and here’s the thing…I don’t do the whole mix it up in one pan anymore (what?!?) I must have been scarred by that first attempt years ago, or perhaps I’ve baked too many scratch cakes. I prefer to just mix up the dry, mix up the wet then combine them for the best result. So, let’s just say I don’t follow the directions. Yep, I’m a rebel now, carving out my own path and writing my own rules…

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I know. Crazy, right?


4.5 from 2 votes

Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake


  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa I used Double Dutch Dark Cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder optional, see note
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar I used apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups cold water
  • For the ganache:
  • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13" x 9" lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and espresso powder, if using.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, vanilla, olive oil and water. (I used a 4 cup liquid measuring cup and measured the water and oil in it, then added the vanilla and vinegar.)
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Set aside to cool.
  6. Make ganache. In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  7. Pour ganache over cake and spread evenly.

Recipe Notes

*If you want to make the cake completely in your baking pan, whisk all of the dry ingredients together in the pan. Make three holes and place vanilla, vinegar and oil individually into each hole. Pour water over all, then mix until fully combined. Bake as per directions in recipe.

*For nice clean cuts once the ganache sets, place your cutting knife in a tall mug of very hot water for a minute to heat up. Wipe it dry and proceed to cut, reheating the knife in the hot water as necessary.

*Store cake covered at room temperature. For longer storage, you can wrap cake slices individually in waxed paper and freeze in plastic freezer bags.

*You can use regular unsweetened cocoa or dutch processed cocoa in this recipe. The better quality your cocoa, the better your cake will taste. Try different kinds and you'll taste the difference.

*The espresso powder is optional. I only used a 1/2 teaspoon, but you could use a full teaspoon if you're not sensitive to coffee flavor. You could eliminate it, or dissolve some instant coffee in the water part of the recipe. Or, you could use brewed coffee (cold) instead of the water for more coffee flavor.

*Update 2-7-16...One more crazy thing about this recipe.. I thought it tasted better on day 3 than on day 1! My friend also made it and was surprised how the flavors developed after a couple of days. She texted me that she was in disbelief that every day that passed, the cake's flavor improved. Of course, it stays perfectly moist for all that time. Just another great bonus to this super easy cake! Cake recipe adapted from a childhood friend's home economics class.

Ganache from Alton Brown

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2016

By |2019-01-06T09:57:43-04:00January 27th, 2016|Cakes, Desserts|25 Comments


  1. Karla January 28, 2016 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Oh, yum! Crazy is fine with me, I can’t wait to try this. I love that it uses better-for-you olive oil and we’ll be sure to mix it all up before baking!

    • Ramona January 28, 2016 at 8:49 am - Reply

      Karla, it’s the perfect choice when you’re in the mood for chocolate cake but don’t want to go through much fuss. So easy and it turns out a nice thick, fluffy and moist slice of cake! It was one of the few things I was tempted to bite into while I was shooting it lol!

  2. [email protected] January 28, 2016 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I can see why this cake has stuck with you all these years because it’s absolutely perfect! It looks so moist and love the ease in making it in the pan. Looks exactly like the childhood cakes I grew up with but I have a feeling this one tastes way better. Making this cray cray cake soon :)

    • Ramona January 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks Karrie! It’s every bit as moist as it looks! The ganache really makes it exceptionally cray cray!

  3. Sandra February 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    I use olive oil spray in my frying pans instead of butter for lot of dishes and it is about time they came up with a replacement for the bad BUTTER we have grown to know for far to long. Butter does nothing for the arteries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Concha July 6, 2016 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Without eggs?

    • Ramona July 6, 2016 at 6:48 am - Reply

      Yes, Concha….without eggs!

  5. teresa July 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Thank you! I know this sounds crazy, but have you tried this without the chocolate? I think it’s great with, but I have one kid who doesn’t like chocolate – he’s more of a vanilla guy.

    • Ramona July 25, 2016 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      I haven’t personally baked it that way, but this recipe is pretty standard across the board and I’ve seen others have success with vanilla simply by omitting the cocoa and following the rest of the recipe as written. So, no, you’re not crazy☺ if you do try it, come back and let me know how it turns out!

  6. Levinia May 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    This was, hands down, the best vegan cake I have ever had/made. It was so moist and rich…I may have added a bit more espresso. I ended up making an icing with powdered sugar and very concentrated instant coffee to keep it vegan for my friends. Thanks for making such an easy and tasty recipe!

    • Ramona May 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Levinia, if you have any leftovers, I swear the cake tastes even better on day 3! I bet your coffee spiked icing was delish!

  7. […] cake is deceiving. It looks tasty but it actually has a strong olive oil taste to it. I think I added […]

  8. Zofia Soustas October 10, 2017 at 2:38 am - Reply

    This cake is the bomb. My Son had to give me a hug to say how delicious it is . Not to sickening and you can just keep on eating i will definately be using his recipe again and again. Thanks

    • Ramona October 10, 2017 at 6:59 am - Reply

      Zofia, I’m happy that it turned out so well for you! Easy to make. So easy to eat!

  9. Usha k October 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Hey Ramona….ur recipe is a winner…..the cake is delicious….even without icing…

    And the making was as simple as it cud be..


    • Ramona October 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Usha! We often make it without icing. We agree, it’s good all by itself!

  10. Barbara December 1, 2017 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Hi. I am trying to figure out what went wrong. I followed the recipe exactly, not something I am prone to do. :) I have a convection oven so I baked the cake at 325°F for 30 minutes, as stated. When tested the cake I did not get any crumb but it seemed to have risen, etc. About a half hour later when I went to check the cake to see if I could take it out of the pan, the center had caved in. It still did not leave any residue when tested, but when I upended the cake it separated and you could see that it wasn’t done. I placed it back in the pan and cooked it at 10 minute intervals for an additional 30 minutes. Did I get the temperature wrong? I did use a 9 x 13 pan. Any thoughts? It smells terrific.

    • Ramona December 1, 2017 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Barbara, I’m pretty sure it was the temperature. First, I don’t like baking cakes in convection ovens. It just doesn’t work well. I usually bake anything that rises (cakes, muffins, cupcakes, souffles) in my regular oven. If you have the option to bake non-convection, that’s the answer. Some ovens can do both. (I do love baking cookies in a convection oven, however) Then, you’re supposed to reduce the temperature down to 325 in a convection. That just made it more difficult for the cake to do what it’s supposed to do. Hopefully, you were able to cook it through so it can be safe to eat. You’ll get the flavor, but maybe it will be more like a dense cake than the fluffy cake it’s supposed to be. But, I think that’s the issue. If you don’t have a convection, then I would try raising the temperature to 350, but you still won’t get the results that you would with non-convection baking. Hope that helps!

  11. Coral Mike June 15, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Do you use Self Raising or All Purpose (Plain) Flour?

    • Ramona June 16, 2018 at 6:08 am - Reply

      This recipe uses just plain all purpose flour. The baking soda and vinegar will give you the leavening. If you use self rising flour, you’ll have too much leavening and it will also likely affect the flavor.

  12. Julie October 15, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    HAs anyone ever tried this cake with a 1:1 gluten free flour? Also do you think I could make it in two round layers?

  13. Julie October 15, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Ps. I should say hi flour mix like Bobs Red mill 1:1 or Trader Joe’s All Purpose gluten free…Thanks!

    • Ramona October 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      Julie, I can say that you shouldn’t have any issue with baking it in two round layers. I don’t have much experience with substituting gluten free flour, but hopefully another reader will be able to help you. I did find this recipe on Bob’s Red Mill’s site. It’s very close to this recipe except that it’s a half batch. The only big difference is that it doesn’t use salt. Salt will be critical for flavor. You don’t need to add the truvia if you’re not trying to reduce sugar. Then, it looks like the only thing it does is add the xanthan gum. So, basically, they went 1:1 with the flour and added xanthan gum. I think it’s worth a try.

  14. Julie October 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Ramona! I really appreciate the research you did.

    • Ramona October 16, 2018 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Sure Julie! If you try it, let us know how it turns out for others who might be looking to try a GF version.

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