Mom’s Mayonnaise Cake, with a Twist

It’s a simple cake, no fuss and no frills. Quick to put together, and filled with memories.

Once in a while, after school, if we were lucky, we found a chocolate mayonnaise cake waiting for us. We needed a treat this week, so I revisited this old recipe, which I’m sure was a standard in many a household.


This is a no-fuss, nothing fancy cake, quick to put together using few ingredients. It is a Depression-era cake that was probably my grandmother’s recipe and used no eggs or oil, the mayonnaise provided both. When I was growing up, most mothers had this quick recipe to offer to the hungry kids!

I used Mom’s instructions for the most part, but instead of water I used French roast coffee left over from breakfast. I often add coffee to a chocolate dessert, the coffee does not scream its presence, but really enhances the chocolate. This swap was really not too different from Mom’s mocha version where she added 2 tbsp. of instant coffee to the batter and to the buttercream she frosted it with. She loved anything mocha, and definitely wanted the coffee flavor, especially in her buttercream.

My twist was to frost with a simple ganache since I find most frostings too sweet for my taste, and the ganache is just right. But you can still fiddle with the sweet level. I prefer to keep it on the bitter side and use bittersweet chocolate. However, you can use semi-sweet or even milk chocolate depending on how sweet you like things. How did your (grand)mother make it?

I used Droste Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa here because that is what Mom iualways bought, and what I use for almost everything chocolate. It is darker than natural cocoa, and lends a deep enticing chocolate flavor. I’ve tried lots of cocoa powders, and this is my favorite. If you can find it, use it!

I have quite a few chocolate cake recipes, but this simple one strikes the memory notes which make it a treasure to me.

Mom’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

(with a twist or two)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Droste)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ cup dark coffee, or water
  • 1 ½ cup sugar (1 3/4 cup if gluten free)
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line with parchment, or waxed paper, a 13”X8” baking pan, grease again and dust with cocoa powder.

In a large bowl, sift together: flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and soda.

In another bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, coffee, sugar, and vanilla, and continue whisking until lumps disappear. Add to dry ingredients, and combine until flour is not visible.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for five, then turn out. Let it cool completely before frosting.

Glaze with ganache:

Once the cake has cooled, make the ganache.

Bring 6 ounces full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream to a simmer and pour over 8 ounces chocolate chips of choice, I used bittersweet. You can add a tsp. of instant espresso here too to enhance the coffee flavor. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then gently whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined. Let this cool for a few more minutes, then glaze the cake.

You can just glaze it in the pan if you like and cut the squares out, that’s how mom did it! We were too impatient for a fancy cake plate, especially for an after-school snack.

Gluten Free ––

I’ve used King Arthur Gluten-Free Baking Mix measure for measure. However, you will need to increase the sugar by 1/4 cup since it tends to be a little more on the bitter side. I’d also use semi-sweet chocolate in the ganache to balance it out.

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49 Comments Add yours

  1. JOY journal says:

    Mmmm. I remember these cakes. They are wonderful. 🙂

    1. And full of memories for me!

  2. Ally Bean says:

    This looks delicious. I remember cakes made with mayo, but have never made one. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. It’s quick to put together!

  3. This looks amazing!!! I don’t use mayo but for this cake I’ll have to go out and buy some! Love the texture and the idea of adding a whole cup of coffee. I cant wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It’s so easy and the grandkids love it as much as we did when I was a kid.

  4. NativeNM says:

    Looks so decadent! I remember hearing about these cakes however I don’t think I’ve ever had a slice. Bet it tastes great and the memories are a bonus!

    1. Sometimes mom made this batter into cupcakes and filled them with vanilla frosting like the little Hostess cupcakes with the squiggle on top.

  5. This brings back such memories for me too! My grandmother would make it when I was a child. Oh I remember it well as being so richly chocolate and the most moist cake I’d ever eaten!
    I looked and looked to find a recipes that was just like hers and this looks just like it! Thank you do much for sharing the recipe!💕

    1. I’m so glad you found this! What I love about this recipe is its simplicity, and it always comes out exactly how I remember it.

      1. I I definately kept it! What a gift you gave me! Not only the recipe that is exactly how my grandmother made but the moment I taste it, you’ll have given me the most memories if her all over again!

      2. Oh! I’m so glad Laura, this makes my heart sing! It will taste exactly as you remember, that’s the simplicity and beauty of it all. Happy memories!

  6. Angela says:

    A cake from my childhood, too. Just luscious!

    1. Brings back memories, doesn’t it!

  7. marymtf says:

    Never heard of mayonnaise being an ingredient in cake, but then felt the same about mashed potato till I made it.

    1. You never know what secret ingredient you might find!

      1. marymtf says:


  8. Kitty Jade says:

    Mayonnaise and cake are two words I never thought could be in the same sentence! But this looks so gorgeous. Essentially mayo replaces the egg since it is mainly egg + oil. I imagine this is what gives it the fudge yet airy texture? I don’t know a ton about baking though haha. Take care 🙂

    1. It does sound really strange, doesn’t it! You are exactly right Kitty, egg and oil, and lots of it! This always comes out dark and moist.

      1. Kitty Jade says:

        Mmm it sounds delicious! Hope you’re well 🙂

      2. Thank you for asking. We are trying to follow the rules and keep safe and sound. Hope all is well for you too!

      3. Kitty Jade says:

        England have decided to allow unlimited exercise while the rest of the U.K. remain with the Stay At Home principle. The politicians are really suffering under the pressure so just said to use ‘common sense’ haha. But honestly don’t blame them! Take care 💓

      4. We’ve been able to take our daily walks with our dog, so that at least gets us out of the house. Things are starting to open up here with restrictions, but our governor is keeping a close watch on things and if it starts to go back the other way, then it will be rolled back.

      5. Kitty Jade says:

        That’s great news 🙂

  9. jama says:

    I had almost forgotten about mayonnaise cakes. Yes, good memories and simple to make. Thanks for the recipe and tips!

    1. You’re welcome Jama! Delicious cake with a side of memories!

  10. Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate. 😍🌿

    1. And just a little more chocolate…

      1. Question. How long do you heat the coconut milk. I assume it’s hot when you pour it on the semi-sweet chips for the granache?

      2. I heat it to a simmer, not letting it boil. It happens fast, so I don’t take my eye off it!

      3. Thanks a bunch. I see this cake in my future. 👀🍃

      4. Thank you for pointing out that I omitted an important step, heating the cream! I corrected it! I hope your premonition comes true!

      5. How did you edit a post? I don’t think I’ve ever done that. 🤔

      6. I just went back to the post directly from the side menu, made changes, then hit the UPDATE button where the PUBLISH button is located when drafting the original. Handy when I find a typo…

      7. Is this possible on a cell phone?

      8. I checked on my iPhone and yes, you can as long as you are logged in. On my phone, I go to the little menu on the top line and it opens right up to the list, which includes posts. Click on that and choose the post. Edit, and the update button is on the top right. Now, I learned something too since I’ve never tried to edit from my phone! Let me know if it works on your phone.

      9. Thanks, Dorothy. You’re golden. 🌟✨💫

      10. You’re welcome my friend!

  11. I’ve never made a mayonnaise cake, it sounds divine and I love the coffee addition!

    1. I think the coffee enhances the chocolate flavor, but it doesn’t scream coffee, although if it did, I wouldn’t mind that much!

  12. Wow, what a brilliant idea to substitute eggs! The cake looks amazing, I’m definitely going to try it!

    1. Wonderful! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family.

  13. shareen8 says:

    Never heard of mayonnaise in cake, interesting. Will give it a try.

    1. It’s an old technique, I believe a Depression era recipe when eggs and dairy were hard to come by. The mayonnaise provided the eggs and the oil, and the cake is remarkably moist and delicious.

  14. This looks wonderful!

    1. Thank you so much!

  15. Looks sweet and tasty!

    1. Ah thanks! It’s a family favorite, I think at least in part because it is so easy!

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