Whole wheat chocolate cake is a delicious, moist, refined sugar-free dessert! Rye flour adds depth, while maple syrup and honey add sweetness. It's proof that whole grain baking doesn't have to be dry and dusty and no one would think that it's made with honey!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Whole wheat flour: sold in the baking aisle of most major grocery stores, whole wheat flour consists of grinding the entire wheat kernel. It sucks up a lot more moisture than all-purpose flour, and for this reason, I don't recommend doing a straight substitution of one for the other. Also called wholemeal flour.
- Rye flour: it adds flavour and depth, but can be subbed with more whole wheat flour if preferred.
- Chocolate: use any you like or have on hand. The darker the chocolate the better the cake will taste, but it will be less sweet with a dark chocolate.
- Olive oil: coconut oil can be subbed for olive, but it will make the cake less moist.
- Make it dairy free: use a good plant-based milk to replace the dairy.
Step 1: whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Step 2: in another bowl, beat the wet ingredients to combine.
Step 3: add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
Step 4: divide the batter evenly between two tins.
Step 5: bake until the sides start to pull away from the tins. Once the cakes are cool, level the tops.
Step 6: decorate the cooled cake and serve.
- Use a scale: as always, but especially when using whole grains, a digital kitchen scale will be the most accurate and consistent.
- Make it by hand: if you don't have a hand or stand mixer you can make this cake by hand with a whisk and a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Don't over-mix: if you whisk or beat the dry ingredients in for too long, the cake can become chewy and tough.
Even though this cake is moist as is, a cake soak adds extra richness. A favourite simple cake soak is 1 tablespoon of milk mixed with ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Use a pastry brush to brush it all over the top of a cooled cake layer before decorating for a little extra oomph.
For more of a twist, try using a simple syrup like strawberry or vanilla syrup as a cake soak instead.
A nice topping for this cake, if you want to keep it refined sugar-free, is whipped cream or cream cheese frosting made with honey or maple syrup in place of sugar. Both work well with liquid sweetener and taste great!
How To Store
Storage: keep the cake on a platter on the counter, uncovered for the first day. After that, cover loosely and store it in the fridge. The cake will keep in the fridge for up to four days (but may be a bit dried out by then).
Freezing: the best way to freeze whole wheat chocolate cake is in separate layers before icing. Once cool, wrap each cake layer, gently but tightly, in two layers of plastic wrap. To defrost, remove the cakes (or just one cake if serving it as a single layer) and sit out at room temperature until thawed. Unwrap and decorate however you like.
Can I use whole-wheat flour to bake a cake?
Whole wheat flour is a good option to use in cake if you'd like a more fibre-rich dessert. We suggest using a whole wheat specific recipe for your cake rather than substituting for white flour.
What happens if you use whole-wheat flour in a cake?
If you substitute it 1:1 for white or plain flour, you'll end up with a dense, heavy cake. Some recipes are specifically developed for whole grains to account for their tendency to absorb more liquid, and they'll have much better results.
Do you need more baking powder with whole wheat flour?
You shouldn't. As long as you're following a recipe that uses whole wheat flour, it'll already take that heaviness into account and add more egg or other leavening agents to solve the problem.
If you make this Whole Grain Chocolate Cake recipe or any other cake recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake
- 2 8-inch (20-cm) round cake tins
- Parchment paper cut to the size of the cake tin
- Mixing bowl
- Stand mixer
- Wire rack
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup rye flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup chocolate, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease two 8-inch (20-cm) round cake tins with olive oil then line them with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit. Set aside.
- Place the whole wheat flour, rye flour, cocoa, chopped chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a second mixing bowl, add the milk, maple syrup, honey, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla. Use a hand or stand mixer to whisk everything together.
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl of wet ingredients. Mix everything together on low speed until the flour is just combined (a few streaks of flour is okay).
- Divide the chocolate batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Place the cakes in the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the sides are starting to pull away and the middle is set.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and place the tins on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the tin and onto the wire rack to cool completely before decorating.