Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Easy Whipped Cream Frosting

32 Reviews / 4.7 Average
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, this whole-wheat chocolate cake recipe is the perfect solution for anyone who wants to make a cake from scratch without spending days in the kitchen or having the end result look like it was decorated by a 4-year-old. And while this cake does contain sugar, it's so much better made from scratch than the box cake batter.
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Whole-Wheat Chocolate Cake Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food

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Earlier this year my daughter asked me if I could “write” Happy Birthday on top of her homemade cake, and I practically laughed out loud at the thought of what that would look like.  So cake-decorating skills or not…absolutely anyone can make this “tie dye” cake turn out beautifully. And don’t be afraid to switch up the colors. I used peaches and raspberries in the pictured version, but if you want it to be more “boyish” blueberries would add some great color as well.

Before we switched to “real food” I used to make birthday cakes out of a box topped with frosting from a tub mixed with food coloring from little squeeze bottles. I’ve always loved to bake, but I never used to make cakes from scratch because I didn’t have a good “go-to” recipe and I also didn’t know any better! Now that we’ve cut all highly processed food from our diets I prefer a cake made from scratch with only a few simple ingredients when it comes time for those special celebrations. No matter how much we say junk food is okay in moderation I almost never want the highly processed, factory-made, artificial version anymore. So as I mentioned in my previous whole-wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe, this cake “breaks the real food rules” a little, but I would much rather you make this for your next celebration instead of relying on Betty Crocker (or worse – your grocery store bakery)! Feel free to check out the ingredient list for those options if you don’t believe me that this is a much better choice. :)


Related Posts: Whole-Wheat Chocolate Cookies

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231 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Easy Whipped Cream Frosting”

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Recipe Rating

  1. Jacqueline McIlmoyl

    5 stars
    This cake is delicious. There is no way to tell that it is mostly whole grain! We ate it without the whipped cream on top and it was fantastic. Obviously, the whipped cream would be amazing, but we couldn’t wait that long! :) It was a lovely texture and is nice and moist throughout. We baked it in one 9×11 rectangle pan for 22 minutes.

  2. Shibani Chhabria

    Made it.. loved it!
    Used olive oil and even added 2 heaped tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Kids loved it and no complaints on the flaxseed.
    Thank you!

  3. What could I use as a sugar substitute? 1.25 cups seems like a lot. I am wanting to make my son’s first birthday cake. Could I use sweet potato or? Any other ideas?

    1. I am going to attempt to make it with coconut sugar – which is lower on the glycemic scale – and I am going to drop it to 3/4 cups. I always use half the amount of sugar suggested.
      I will let you know how it turns out.

  4. 5 stars
    So wonderful ! Used brown sugar instead, my 14 year old daughter made the cake, the whipped cream frosting and a cherry berry sauce. All 12 kids and 4 adults loved it for Daddy’s birthday !

  5. Yup – it’s a keeper!!! It even worked great in our bunny shaped cake pan! Thanks for a great recipe!! :-D

  6. 5 stars
    We absolutely love this cake! I would love to use this recipe for cupcakes – can you give me an idea on baking time? Thanks!

  7. Does the cake recipe really call for 2 tablespoons of vanilla? Just wondering if it should be teaspoons?? I hope you can answer this question fast…am making it right now! : )

  8. 4 stars
    Great recipe, thanks!

    Right now I’m on whole wheat, no sugar diet. This is the only recipe for chocolate cake that I was able to find that used any whole wheat flour! Do you have any idea how this would taste fully whole wheat and with a sugar substitute?

  9. I’m not a baker but want to use this recipe for cup cakes for my daughter’s 2nd birthday next week. Can I frost the cup cakes the day before, will the frosting he up?

    1. Hi Jenny,

      What I do when I don’t want to use white instead of wholemeal flour is add 20% ground oats or 10% ground flax. That way I’m replacing the good I’m losing from the wholemeal with something as good or better.

      Oats do change the texture though, and generally make something denser. Flax generally keeps things light.

  10. Any recommendations for a good egg substitute for this recipe? Flax is our go-to usually. Will that work?

  11. Made this this weekend for my son’s 2nd birthday. Loved it! I did use 1 cup white whole wheat and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour. It came out kind of dense so next time I will use all pastry flour. This is my go to recipe for chocolate cake now!

  12. This sounds so good! I want to make it for a small birthday celebration. Could I half recipe and just use one 9″ cake pan? Thanks!!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Kat. While that is not something we have tried, I think that should work fine. And since there is an even number of eggs, you will not have to worry about splitting an egg. :)

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. It can. Bake at the same temp and regular size cupcakes are usually cooked within 15-20 minutes.

  13. Is there really 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla in this cake recipe? Just asking because it seems like a lot. Thank you & I love your book!!!

  14. 5 stars
    This has become our go to recipe for birthday cakes. My kids both love it, and several months ago my daughter asked for this cake with strawberries we picked. We put some in the freezer and I defrosted and drained them. I mashed them and put them in the middle, and used the extra strawberry juice to color the frosting (I actually use frosting from the cupcake recipe on this blog, but only half because it’s so sweet for us). The extra strawberry flavor was really delicious and it made my birthday girl very happy! One note for those trying this recipe for the first time, make sure you really grease those cake pans, and then allow them to cool about 30 minutes to get them out easily.

  15. 5 stars
    You might want to edit the recipe to say (for the newbies like me that don’t know…) that you have to whip the cream and sugar on HIGH to get anywhere. I tried every speed on my mixer for about 10 minutes, except super, blown-out, all the way, high and all I had was a soupy mess. I finally thought I’d give high a try before I threw it out and it finally started to firm up. (And then it was perfect!) Might seem common place to people who bake, but I had no idea and I saw several comments from others that didn’t either.

  16. The cake was good! I tried to make the frosting, but as I
    was mixing it separated and became clumpy and not good.
    Is it because I used cane sugar instead of the refined stuff?

    1. I have a similar recipe that I use quite often but this decorating idea will spice it up for a change.

      @Paulette: only mix until the cream is “stiff”. If you mix too long it’ll turn into butter chunks swimming in butter milk.

  17. I made this with strong coffee instead of water and 1/4 coco and used a mascarpone frosting, perfect ‘tiramisu’ cake!