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Crazy Cake

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A close up of a piece of chocolate cake on a plate
This easy chocolate depression crazy cake comes together with simple ingredients from your pantry and creates a delicious chocolate dessert you will enjoy.
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Table of Contents
  1. Crazy Cake Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Crazy Cake Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More 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.

Our chocolate peanut butter crazy cake and mayo cake are two more rich and decadent cakes that use everyday staples.

close up shot of a slice of frosted chocolate cake on a plate

Crazy Cake Ingredients

Crazy Cake raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need: 

For the Cake

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water

For the Chocolate Frosting (optional)

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk or more if needed for desired consistency

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 extract. Check out our full recipe for the vanilla version here.

FROSTING: This delicious chocolate cake can be topped with your favorite frosting, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or even left plain.  

How To Make This Crazy Cake Recipe

For the Cake

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

This recipe can easily be doubled for a 9×13-inch pan.

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350°F.

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

dry cake ingredients whisked together in a pan

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.

wells made in the cake batter

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.

PRO TIP:

The vinegar is a must in this recipe. It reacts with the baking soda to give the cake the desired texture, doing the work eggs would do in other recipes. The cake does not come out tasting like vinegar!

vinegar and vanilla placed in the wells in the cake mix

STEP SIX: Pour 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.

PRO TIP:

If there are bubbles in your wet cake batter, gently tap your cake pan on the counter to release the bubbles.

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

PRO TIP:

Keep a close eye on the cake at the 30-minute mark as you don’t want to overbake it.

cake batter before and after being baked in a cake pan

STEP NINE: Ice the top of the cake with frosting, powdered sugar, or leave it plain.

For the Frosting

STEP ONE: Place the cocoa in a medium mixing bowl. Add the melted butter.

STEP TWO: Using a mixer mix together until smooth. Then add vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk and mix until smooth, beating for 2 to 3 minutes.

How To Serve

This crazy chocolate cake would be delicious served with a cold glass of milk. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side for an even more decadent dessert. You could also drizzle hot fudge sauce and add a spoonful of whipped cream on top as well.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: The unfrosted version of this great 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 covering 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. Instead, you can leave off the frosting prior to freezing and add it on when ready to serve.

overhead shot of slices of chocolate cake cut in a cake pan

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

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Depression Cake?

Depression Cake originated out of a need to find replacements for hard-to-find or expensive ingredients during the Great Depression, such as eggs and butter. They were substituted for pantry standards, making this recipe easy to make even when you run out of typical baking essentials.

Can you freeze this depression era cake?

This chocolate depression cake freezes well. It can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer.

Is this wacky cake recipe vegan?

Since this easy recipe does not have any eggs or milk, if you leave off the frosting because it has butter in it, this chocolate cake recipe is a great vegan cake option.

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

Crazy Cake

5 from 7 votes
This easy chocolate depression crazy cake comes together with simple ingredients from your pantry and creates a delicious chocolate dessert you will enjoy.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • 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

Frosting (optional)

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk, or more if needed for desired consistency

Instructions
 

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In an UNGREASED 8×8-inch pan, add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a whisk stir together the ingredients right in the pan to sift it all together.
  • 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 to 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.

Frosting (optional):

  • 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 to 3 minutes.

Video

Notes

  • This recipe can easily be doubled for a 9×13-inch pan.
  • The vinegar is a must in this recipe. It reacts with the baking soda to give the cake the desired texture, doing the work eggs would do in other recipes. The cake does not come out tasting like vinegar!
  • Keep a close eye on the cake at the 30-minute mark as you don’t want to overbake it.

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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  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

  2. Allison says

    5 stars
    Made this into a bunny cake for Easter and it was delish! I didn’t have enough oil so I substituted applesauce and it turned out amazing 🙂

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