Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Wacky Cake – Crazy Cake, Depression Cake – whatever you call it, it is DELICIOUS! No eggs or milk in the batter! Flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, vinegar, oil, vanilla, and water. Make the cake directly in the cake pan. Tastes like a cross between and cake and a brownie. Top the cake with a quick homemade chocolate frosting or powdered sugar.

slice of frosted chocolate cake

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What is Wacky Cake?

This cake goes by many different names – Wacky Cake, Depression Cake, War Cake, and Crazy Cake. This delicious chocolate cake is from the late 1930s or early 1940s. It is made without butter, eggs, or milk and was popular during World War II when rationing was prevalent. A friend made this cake and raved about it. I was skeptical. A cake with no eggs, no milk, no butter? Yep, and it tasted delicious! It is super simple to make. You make it right in the baking dish. No extra dishes to wash! This delicious cake recipe using pantry staples has stood the test of time! Give this a try the next time you need an easy cake recipe. You won’t be disappointed!

pouring liquid over chocolate powder in baking dish

How to Make Wacky Cake

This cake is super easy to make with minimal ingredients. Start with placing the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, white sugar, baking soda, and salt in an 8-inch baking pan. Next, make three wells in the dry ingredients for the wet ingredients. Add white vinegar, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil to the wells. Finally, pour water over everything and stir with a fork or spatula. Pop the baking dish in the oven and bake.

  • I mixed this cake right in the cake pan. You can also make the batter in a mixing bowl with a spatula or hand mixer. You will just have an extra dirty dish.
  • This cake is great to add your favorite mixins – chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, cherries. Get creative!
  • Top the cake with your favorite frosting, if desired. I topped the cake with a quick homemade chocolate frosting made from chocolate chips, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. This is equally delicious with cream cheese frosting or vanilla frosting
  • Here is our recipe for Homemade Vanilla Buttercream: https://www.plainchicken.com/best-chocolate-cupcakes-buttercream/
  • If you don’t want to make the frosting, feel free to open a can of pre-made frosting. It will work just fine. Sometimes I just give the cake a simple dusting of powdered sugar. Either way, it is delicious.
  • Can double the cake in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
slice of frosted chocolate cake

Best Chocolate Cake

This depression era cake has quickly become our go-to chocolate cake recipe. It has a great chocolate flavor and the fudgy frosting on top is super delicious. I could have eaten the whole thing myself! LOL! We like to top the cake with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh berries. BOOM! Chicken Legs has requested this for this birthday cake this year. This wacky cake recipe deserves to be in your recipe box!

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slice of frosted chocolate cake

Wacky Cake

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Wacky Cake – Crazy Cake, Depression Cake – whatever you call it, it is DELICIOUS! No eggs or milk in the batter! Make the cake directly in the cake pan. Tastes like a cross between and cake and a brownie. Top the cake with a quick homemade chocolate frosting or powdered sugar. #cake #dessert

Ingredients:

Cake

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Frosting

  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ to ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk, optional

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  • Mix first 5 dry ingredients in prepared pan. Make 3 wells in dry ingredients. Pour vinegar in one well, vanilla in second well and vegetable oil in third well. Pour 1 cup of water over entire mixture. Mix until smooth.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely.
  • To prepare frosting, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate chips and butter. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and powdered sugar until desired consistency.
  • Spread over cooled cake and enjoy!

Notes:

Can double the cake in a 9×13-inch pan.

Steph

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pouring liquid over chocolate powder in baking dish
frosted chocolate cake in a cake pan

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Comments

  1. I had a hard time with frosting – it was instantly pasty – so I added a splash of milk and it became wonderful right away! Maybe this will help someone else!

    1. Yes! It helped me! I threw out the first batch thinking I'd messed up, and then it happened again, so I came to the comments for help!

  2. we've made wacky cake in the school cafeteria for a very long time. ALWAYS a favorite with any age kid, they love it!. dusted with powdered sugar no frosting.

  3. Great recipe, I make the cake for my son that has a milk allergy. I make it with balsamic vinegar instead of the white vinegar, delicious!

  4. Wacky Cake was a favorite several years ago when my daughter was growing up. She always requested this cake when she asked her friends over. Very easy, delicious and quick to make! Thanks for posting.

  5. Wow — I used to make this and I was just thinking about it yesterday, wondering where in the world I had put the recipe — and not knowing where in the world (in my zillions of collected recipes) to look! Thanks!

  6. We love Wacky Cake here – I always have everything for it and it makes a manageable size. It's definitely and oldie but goodie – I should make one tonight!

    1. I'm in my early 60's and I did too, lol. Another, like this, was a "3 hole cake" and it did use eggs and filled a 9X13 pan (3 eggs, but much the same ingredients). To die for and easy. Loved!

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