Wacky cake is a classic dessert that doesn't require eggs, milk, and butter. It is topped with delicious chocolate icing that makes it perfect for any occasion.
Are you tired of scouring through recipe books for a vegan-friendly cake that doesn't require eggs or butter? Look no further than the wacky cake recipe!
This moist chocolate cake is perfect for anyone with egg or dairy allergies or wants to enjoy a cheaper dessert that doesn't break the bank. This great recipe is ideal for a birthday cake.
NOTE: The chocolate icing is NOT dairy free, but it can always be replaced with your favorite dairy-free recipe for icing.
If you are here to bake the cake with me, keep reading.
I will provide tips and tricks to perfect your wacky cake and various frosting options to complement this delectable treat.
And if you're feeling adventurous, we'll explore creative variations on the classic wacky cake. So let's try this easy cake recipe and see why it has stood the test of time as one of the best chocolate cake recipes out there.
What is a Wacky Cake
The wacky chocolate cake may seem like a modern invention, but its roots can be traced back to the Great Depression era.
During this time, ingredients such as eggs and butter were scarce and expensive, so creative homemakers came up with a recipe that used pantry staples like flour, sugar, oil, and vinegar to make a delicious chocolate cake.
Wacky cake is unique because it doesn't use eggs, butter, or milk in the recipe. Instead, it uses vinegar and baking soda to create a reaction that helps the cake rise.
This creates a moist and fluffy texture that is perfect for chocolate cake.
Another unique aspect of wacky cake is that the cake batter is mixed directly in the same pan that it will be baked in with a fork. This saves time and reduces the number of dishes you'll need to wash.
Obviously, you can also mix it in a bowl if the traditional method sounds too much.
To make the cake as the original recipe says, mix the dry ingredients in the cake pan, create wells for the wet ingredients, and then mix everything until well combined.
This technique is also said to create a more tender and moist cake because the ingredients are not overmixed, which can cause the cake to become tough or dry.
If you ask me, because of this easy method, it is indeed the easiest chocolate cake and the most delicious one I had in a very long time.
Wacky cake is also known by several other names, including "depression cake," "crazy cake," "war cake," and "chocolate depression cake."
These names reflect the cake's history and the fact that it was first created during the Great Depression and was a popular dessert during World War II. The cake's simplicity and lack of dairy products and eggs also make it an excellent choice for those with dietary restrictions or allergies.
As time went on, the recipe evolved into what we now know as the wacky cake, still beloved for its simplicity and adaptability.
Ingredients (with possible substitutions)
To make the perfect wacky cake, you need only common ingredients that you can easily find in any grocery store:
1. Flour: All-purpose flour works best for this recipe. You can also use almond flour or a gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free version.
2. Sugar: Granulated sugar is used in this recipe, but you can also use brown sugar for a richer flavor.
3. Cocoa powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder gives the cake its chocolatey flavor.
4. Baking soda: This helps the cake rise.
5. Vinegar: Regular White vinegar makes a chemical reaction with the baking soda to make the cake fluffy and moist. You can also use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice instead of regular vinegar.
6. Oil: Any neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola, will work. Olive oil or coconut oil are also good options but keep in mind that they will slightly influence the taste of the cake.
7. Water: Use room-temperature water for this recipe. Some recipes will tell you to pour warm water into the batter, but cold water at room temperature will help the flour dissolve and mix better with the rest of the ingredients.
- Melted unsalted butter
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Warm milk
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
Tools: (affiliate links)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cake pan: 9x13- inch pan
- Cake tester or toothpick to check doneness
- Wire rack for cooling
- Mixing bowl to make the frosting
Do you need an electric mixer?
No, you don't. Really, a fork to mix the batter is all you need.
How to make this Cake (Step by Step)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Combine the dry ingredients directly in the ungreased baking pan using a fork: all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.
- Make three wells in the dry ingredients using the back of a measuring cup and add oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Pour a third of each into the three wells for even distribution.
- Pour water over all and blend thoroughly with a fork. Mix until well combined and the batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
- Bake in the same baking dish for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely in the pan while you make the chocolate icing. Place the pan on a wire rack.
How to make the Chocolate Icing
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl and combine it with the unsweetened cocoa powder and salt.
- Add warm milk and vanilla extract to the mixture.
- Mix in the powdered sugar in three parts until it is fully incorporated.
- Spread the icing on the cake using a spatula or a knife.
Notes & Tips
- Make sure your wet ingredients are at room temperature before mixing.
- Use a cake tester to check if the center of the cake is fully cooked.
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the cake pan before frosting it.
Wacky cake is delicious on its own, but it's even better if you frost it. Here are a few options to try besides the chocolate icing in this recipe:
- Vanilla buttercream frosting
- Peanut butter frosting
- Fresh berries and powdered sugar
- Make a simple chocolate ganache by heating the heavy cream and pouring it over chopped chocolate until it melts. Once the mixture has cooled and thickened, you can spread it over the top of the cake for a rich and decadent finish.
- Make a cream cheese frosting by blending cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
Variations on this recipe
One of the best things about Wacky Cake is its versatility. Wacky cakes can be easily adapted to fit your preferences. Here are a few variations to try:
- Orange and chocolate: Add the zest of one orange to the batter and substitute half of the water with orange juice.
- Peanut butter and jelly: Swirl peanut butter into the batter before baking and use grape jelly for the frosting. Top with chopped peanuts or a dollop of peanut butter for an extra touch.
- Mint chocolate chip: Add a teaspoon of peppermint extract and a handful of chocolate chips to the batter. For the frosting, mix powdered sugar with a teaspoon of milk and a few drops of green food coloring.
- Coconut: Substitute half of the water with coconut milk and add shredded coconut to the batter. For the frosting, mix cream cheese with powdered sugar and top with more shredded coconut.
- Coffee: Use instant coffee in place of water for a richer flavor.
- Add chocolate chips to the cake batter for a chocolate chip wacky cake.
- Swap the chocolate flavor for other flavors, like vanilla or lemon, and make a vanilla frosting instead of chocolate.
- Top the cooled cake with your favorite frosting or whipped cream and fresh berries for a fruity twist.
- Lemon poppy seed: Add the zest of one lemon and two tablespoons of poppy seeds to the batter. For the frosting, mix powdered sugar with lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
- Try swapping out the granulated sugar for brown sugar to create a caramel-like flavor.
The sky is the limit when it comes to these great cake variations. Feel free to experiment with different flavors and toppings until you find your perfect combination for this delicious cake.
How to store leftover cake
Room temperature or in the refrigerator: Once the cake has cooled completely, you can store it in an airtight container or cover it with plastic wrap. It will last for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to a week in the fridge.
Freezer: You can freeze the wacky cake for up to 3 months.
Once the cake has cooled completely, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag.
To thaw, simply let it sit at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Label the container with the date.
Expert tip: I would recommend not frosting the cake if you plan to freeze it.
When you're ready to enjoy the cake, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature for a few hours. Alternatively, you can defrost it in the microwave for a few minutes.
Wacky cake is an easy and delicious dessert that has stood the test of time. With its simple ingredients and easy preparation, it's perfect for any occasion, from birthdays to special occasions.
This cake has become a favorite recipe for many families and continues to be a popular choice for those who look for a vegan cake without the icing.
Whether you're making the original recipe or a variation, the wacky cake will surely be a hit with family members and friends.
In conclusion, this chocolate depression cake is not just a dessert. It's a piece of American history that has been passed down through generations.
Its unique flavor and simplicity make it a perfect treat for any occasion. Whether you are an expert baker or a beginner in the kitchen, you can easily make a delicious wacky cake.
So why not give it a try and see why this classic dessert has stood the test of time? As the famous saying goes, "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
More recipes to love
Wacky Cake With Chocolate Icing
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup vegetable oil Could also be canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons plain vinegar or apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or
- 2 cups plain water
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted but cool
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup warm milk You can replace it with plant-based milk, like oats, coconut, almonds, etc.
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
Make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Place the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder) into an ungreased 9x13-inch cake pan and blend them with a fork.
- Make three wells in the dry ingredients, using the bottom of a measuring cup, and add oil, vinegar, and vanilla, pouring a third of each into each of the three wells for even distribution. OR: Grab a glass measuring cup and mix all wet ingredients together, then pour the liquid over the dry ingredients.
- Use a fork to blend thoroughly. Do not overmix.
- Bake the pan for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool completely, while you are making the chocolate icing.
Make the chocolate icing:
- In a large bowl, melt the butter. Add the unsweetened cocoa powder and salt. Combine them.
- Warm the milk and add it to the mixture together with the vanilla extract.
- Add powdered sugar in three parts, each time mixing well to incorporate the sugar completely.
- Spread the chocolate icing over the cake using a spatula or knife.