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Crazy Cake

A close up of a piece of chocolate cake on a plate
This easy chocolate depression crazy cake comes together with common items from your pantry and brings a delicious taste of history to the modern dessert table.
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Table of Contents
  1. More cake recipes
  2. CRAZY CAKE INGREDIENTS
  3. HOW TO MAKE THIS CRAZY CAKE RECIPE
  4. STORAGE
  5. MORE EASY DESSERT RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This easy yet delicious Crazy Cake recipe transforms simple pantry ingredients into a decadent dessert. Vinegar, oil, vanilla, and cocoa combine to create a chocolate depression-era cake without eggs or milk, making it a popular and budget-friendly treat.

Pair it with comfort foods like our Easy Chicken and Dumplings and Corn Pudding for the perfect old-fashioned family dinner and dessert!

A close up of a slice of birthday cake

More cake recipes

Oatmeal Cake | Chocolate Pudding Cake


CRAZY CAKE INGREDIENTS

A cup of coffee, with Cake and Sugar

Depression chocolate cake (otherwise known as crazy cake) draws on the ingenuity of households when faced with scarcity during the Great Depression.

Families found substitutes for hard to find and costly ingredients such as eggs or butter, without sacrificing flavor. For this eggless and milkless cake, a quick trip to the pantry is really all that is required.

You will need: 

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup cold water

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

VANILLA: If you prefer the flavor of vanilla over chocolate, simply leave out the cocoa or add an additional ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Check out our full recipe for Vanilla Crazy Cake here.

FROSTING: The cake can be topped with your preferred frosting, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or even left plain. 

HOW TO MAKE THIS CRAZY CAKE RECIPE

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

STEP TWO: In an UNGREASED 8×8 pan add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a whisk stir together the ingredients right in the pan to kind of sift it all together.

STEP THREE: Next, using your fingers or a spoon, make a good-sized well in the middle and two smaller wells one on each side of the center well.

A cake made to look like a face

STEP FOUR: Place the vegetable oil in the center well.

STEP FIVE: Place the vinegar in a small well and the vanilla in the other small well.

STEP SIX: Pour the cold water over all of the ingredients.

STEP SEVEN: Using the whisk stir until combined. You can also use a spoon to get into the corners and further mix until smooth. If there are bubbles in your batter, gently tap the pan on the countertop to release the bubbles.

STEP EIGHT: Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool completely before serving.

STEP NINE: Ice with frosting or powdered sugar or plain.

A piece of chocolate cake on a plate, with Sugar and Egg

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE

The unfrosted version of this cake can be stored in the refrigerator by simply wrapping it in plastic wrap. If frosted, allow the frosting to harden slightly by chilling it in the fridge for 15 minutes first and then loosely cover the cake in plastic.

IN THE FREEZER

You can freeze depression cake, either in slices or as a whole. If you plan to freeze a frosted cake, it is helpful to freeze the cake unwrapped first, and then to wrap the frozen slice or pan once the frosting will no longer transfer to the wax paper or other wrapper.

Additionally, you can leave off the frosting prior to freezing and add it on when ready to serve.

A piece of chocolate cake on a plate, with Fudge

This easy chocolate depression crazy cake comes together with common items from your pantry and brings a delicious taste of history to the modern dessert table.

MORE EASY DESSERT RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

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A close up of a piece of chocolate cake on a plate

Crazy Cake

5 from 6 votes
This easy chocolate depression crazy cake comes together with common items from your pantry and brings a delicious taste of history to the modern dessert table.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup water cold

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an UNGREASED 8×8 pan add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a whisk stir together the ingredients right in the pan to kind of sift it all together.
  • Next using your fingers or a spoon make a good sized well in the middle and two smaller wells one on each side of the center well.
  • Place the vegetable oil in the center well.
  • Place the vinegar in a small well and the vanilla in the other small well.
  • Pour the cold water over all of the ingredients.
  • Using the whisk, stir until combined. You can also use a spoon to get into the corners and further mix until smooth. If there are bubbles in your batter, gently tap the pan on the countertop to release the bubbles.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool completely before serving.
  • Ice with frosting or powdered sugar or plain.

Video

Notes

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE FROSTING:
You will need
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk or more if needed for desired consistency
Place the cocoa in a medium mixing bowl. Add the melted butter. Using a mixer mix together until smooth. Then add vanilla, powdered sugar and milk and mix until smooth beating for 2-3 minutes.
Recipe for both cake and frosting can be easily doubled for a 9×13 plan.

Nutrition

Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 271mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

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  1. Charisa says

    5 stars
    Family favorite. Such a moist cake. It’s the cake my hubby’s mom made for his birthday all his life. So good!

    • Diane says

      Was recipe in 4-H cookbook when I was in 4-H. Made it for my family all my life. We like it served with vanilla sauce poured over a piece in a small bowl Thank you for sharing. Have shared it with my granddaughter. So it goes on

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