Thalia’s Chocolate Cake

Submitted by Adele Sparrow

Living 1,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of Calver we have often had to prepare for inclement weather, and we’ve always had to stock our pantry cupboard and animal feedstore in late November to prepare for a possible extended period of snow. These winter months have made us rely heavily on recipes that largely use pantry items with a long shelf life.

At a time when we need to self-isolate, and limit our trips to the supermarket, our winter recipe file has become our source of inspiration.

Here is one of our favourite recipes, given to us 25 years ago by one of the wardens at Marrick Priory, to help supplement a dairy-free diet for one of our children. It was inspired by the delicious dairy-free Chocolate Cake that you can purchase at Reeth Bakery, and has been a family favourite all these years!

We are so privileged to live in such a beautiful part of the UK and in the current circumstances we appreciate our dale and the help our neighbours have gifted over the years.


  • 175g (6 oz) plain flour
  • 175g (6oz) granulated sugar
  • 50g (2oz) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • 115ml (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 225ml (8 fl oz) water


1. Preheat the oven to 190 °C (375 °F, Gas 5).
2. Grease and line an 18cm/7” cake tin (the cake is very delicate, and I often use a cake tin liner available from Lakeland).
3. Sift and combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

4. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the vanilla essence, vinegar, oil and water.

5. Stir until smooth but do not over mix.
6. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).

7. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then on a rack to cool completely.

8. Serves 6. Enjoy on its own or for those who do not have a dairy intolerance it is delicious served warm with Brymor ice cream.

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