Wacky Cake

This chocolate wacky cake is super moist and so easy to make. It mixes up right in the pan, and it doesn’t use any eggs or dairy!

Wacky cake

Chocolate wacky cake is one of our absolute favourite desserts. I’ve been making it for about 20 years.

It’s a recipe I got from my mother-in-law when I got married and I have been making it ever since.

At least once a year in fact (usually more), because it is always the cake my husband request for his birthday. Without fail.

Crazy cake

I actually usually try to convince him to let me make him something else, because it’s just so easy that it doesn’t seem impressive enough for a birthday cake!

But it’s his favourite, so that’s what we make.

The great thing about wacky cake is that it is so easy to make.

You mix it up right in the baking pan and it can literally be ready to go in the oven before it has even finished heating up.

Crazy cake

It’s easy enough that all the kids can make it without any help. 

This wacky cake is the best chocolate cake.

Soft and moist and full of chocolate flavour, and so easy to make.

Plus it doesn’t have any dairy or eggs in it, so it’s perfect if you’re contending with any allergies. Or you just don’t have anything but pantry staples available.

And everyone loves it. 

Wacky cake

Why is it called Wacky Cake?

This chocolate cake is called wacky cake for a couple of reasons.

It uses a different mixing technique than most cakes, with all the ingredients mixed up right in the baking pan.

It also uses unusual ingredients like vinegar, and doesn’t have any milk, eggs, or butter in it.

Wacky chocolate cake

Wacky cake likely originated during wartime rationing when it was difficult to get things like milk, eggs, and butter.

It’s also sometimes called crazy cake, or depression cake.

Easy chocolate cake

How do you make wacky cake from scratch?

Wacky cake is one of the easiest desserts to make.

My kids have been making it on their own for years.

And the best part is it mixes up right in the baking pan, so you don’t even have a bunch of dishes to do afterwards. 

Wacky cake

All you have to do to make a wacky cake from scratch is whisk together the dry ingredients in the baking pan.

You then make three wells in the dry ingredients, and add vanilla, vinegar, and oil to them.

Pour some water over top and stir everything together. That’s it.

So easy, and it makes the best chocolate cake!

Wacky Cake

How to make Wacky Cake:

  • This wacky cake is one of the easiest cakes to make. It mixes up right in the cake pan, and can easily be ready to go in the oven by the time it’s heated up (maybe faster!).
  • I use vanilla buttercream frosting, so that’s what I’ve included in the recipe, but use any frosting you like, or none at all.
  • The cake is dairy free, but the frosting is not, so use a different frosting recipe for a completely dairy free dessert. Or replace the butter with margarine and omit the cream in the frosting.
  • We like this cake cold, so usually keep it in the fridge, but it will be fine at room temperature for up to 3 days if you prefer. Keep it covered tightly with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
  • Wacky cake also freezes well. I usually cut it into squares and freeze it in an airtight container so we can take out as many portions as we want. You can freeze it with the frosting on, and it defrosts quite quickly at room temperature.
  • If you want a larger cake, you can double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 inch pan instead.

Here are some more great dessert recipes for you:

Yield: serves 12

Wacky Cake

Depression cake

This chocolate wacky cake is super moist and so easy to make. It mixes up right in the pan, and it doesn't use any milk, eggs, or butter!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup water

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (35% whipping cream)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In an 8x8 inch baking pan, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder until well combined.
  3. With a spoon, make 3 wells in the dry ingredients.
  4. Pour the vanilla into one well, the vinegar into the second well, and the oil into the third well.
  5. Pour the water over top of everything and stir to combine. Make sure to get into all the corners to get all the dry ingredients incorporated.
  6. Bake for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. For the frosting, cream the butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy.
  9. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  10. Add the cream, and whip for 2-3 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  11. Spread the frosting over top of the cooled cake.
  12. Wacky cake will keep well in the fridge or at room temperature, covered tightly, for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Notes

I always use Dutch processed cocoa powder for this recipe.
For the oil, another vegetable oil should be fine if you prefer not to use canola oil, but that’s what I always use. You can also use melted butter or shortening if you like, but I do prefer oil for this recipe.
I always use a glass baking dish for this cake. If you only have a metal baking pan, the cake may take a bit longer to bake.
The cake is egg and dairy free, but the frosting is not. If you need it to be, use a different frosting recipe, or use a dairy free replacement for the butter and omit the cream.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

serves 12

Serving Size:

1 piece of cake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6.1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 257mgCarbohydrates: 49.6gFiber: 1gSugar: 36.4gProtein: 2.1g
  1. Holly says:

    My Mon always made this cake when we were little. She called it Blue Monday cake 🙂 We liked it warm with ice cream or whipped cream on top!! Yummy! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Stacey says:

      Haha, I love that name for it! And with ice cream or whipped cream would be preferable to me, but the rest of the family likes buttercream on it so that’s what I usually do 🙂

      1. Susie says:

        I can’t wait to make this cake . It was my Dad’s Favorite one years ago. So I will be making it for everyone again. Thank you for Sharing. Happy Baking Everyone. And Happy Happy Holidays of any kind. Susie from Florida

  2. Chris Huling says:

    Stacey, looks great I plan on making it. My mom used to make an icing that went with this recession cake that was made with crisco and powdered sugar, I believe. Do you know the recipe for that?

    1. Stacey says:

      I don’t, no, but it’s probably basically the same as my buttercream recipe, just using shortening instead of butter. The flavour would be different, but the amount of shortening would be the same as the butter.

    1. Stacey says:

      I have never tried it with gluten free flour, but I would think if you’ve subbed it in other baking recipes with success, it would likely substitute the same here. Let me know if you try it out!

    2. Melanie DeYoung says:

      I make it all the time with Bob’s Redmill 1 to 1 gluten free flour blend and it comes out awesome!

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