A Cake with a Pedigree: Fast, Easy, Low Fat

March 24, 2015

I was reading through Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking yesterday, when I came upon this cake. I've been looking for an alternative to Angel Food Cake – which has virtually no fat – and this one seemed possible.  It has no butter and no eggs, and requires only a half cup of oil and a cup of buttermilk. Then I saw the recipe was from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Marion Cunningham's revision of the classic, as tweaked by a friend of Laurie's named Karen Edwards.

So this is a chocolate cake that was passed down from Farmer to Cunningham to Colwin to Reichl.  

It's not the most spectacular chocolate cake I've ever baked, but it certainly is the easiest.  It takes all of three minutes to whip up, requires only one bowl, and spends a mere half hour in the oven. If you're in need of a delicious dessert at the last minute, this will make you (and your family), very happy.  


Fannie, Marion, Karen, Laurie and Ruth’s Supersimple Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake tin.

Mix the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl.

Whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

Turn into the cake pan (the batter will be fairly thick), and bake about 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Put on a rack and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out of the pan.  



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  • Linda Aronson says:

    Dear Ruth,
    I have made this cake since the recipe appeared in Gourmet magazine many years ago. It was a lifesaver when my then 2 year old daughter was allergic to eggs, and we searched for
    eggless cake and cookie recipes. It is the ultimate comfort cake–easy to make, accessible ingredients, and low fat. It is the perfect accompaniment to an ice cold glass of milk–preferably skim, in keeping with low fat theme.

  • ann h. says:

    Dear Ruth,
    Could kefir be used in place of buttermilk? And Gluten free flour, as well?
    The recipe sounds wonderful – i can’t wait to try it!