This Wacky Cake aka Chocolate Depression Cake is rich, moist, and smothered in the creamiest chocolate frosting! This is my favorite cake recipe and it’s made without eggs, butter, or milk!
I kid you not, I’m usually not a fan of chocolate cake, because they tend to be SO dry. This wacky cake is anything but! Somehow it’s buttery without using butter, and don’t even get me started on the rich chocolate frosting (which also is free from butter and milk thank you very much)!
What is wacky cake?
Wacky Cake aka Chocolate Depression Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made without eggs, butter, and milk! It’s “wacky”, because most cake recipes require eggs and dairy products. This cake was popularized during WWII when milk and eggs were scarce and very expensive.
Nobody will ever guess this rich, moist, ultra chocolatey cake is egg-free and dairy-free!
Chocolate Wacky Cake
- Flour – all-purpose flour is the base of the cake which provides structure. All-purpose flour is the most versatile flour there is and will produce a baked good that is nice and light.
- Sugar – granulated sugar is used to sweeten the cake. This cake is free from dairy and eggs, but to make this cake truly vegan, you’ll need to use an organic sugar (it should be listed as certified vegan), because refined cane sugars may be processed with animal byproducts.
- Cocoa Powder – unsweetened cocoa powder provides a rich, chocolate flavor without adding additional sweetness. There is no substitute for cocoa powder in this recipe.
- Baking Soda – our leavening agent. Baking soda reacts with the vinegar to produce a cake that’s nice and light.
- Salt – balances out the sweetness of the granulated sugar while also enhancing the rich, chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder.
- Coffee – any leftover coffee is fine! I’ve used expensive coffee that I enjoy drinking and I’ve also used instant coffee mixed with water and you can’t tell the difference. If you’re not a coffee fan, have no fear, coffee doesn’t really add a coffee flavor, but it does, however, intensify the chocolate flavor! You *can* use water, but I find it to be bland.
- Oil – any neutral flavored oil you have on hand is fine. My oil of choice is canola, because it’s cheap and very mild in flavor. Avocado oil is another great choice, but it’s more expensive. Vegetable also may also be used, but I find the flavor to be too strong. Whatever oil you use will create a cake that’s very moist!
- Vinegar – reacts with the baking soda to help the cake rise. I used apple cider vinegar, but white vinegar may also be used. You cannot taste the vinegar in the final product.
- Vanilla Extract – provides depth of flavor and a subtle sweetness/warmth to the cake. Pure or imitation vanilla may be used.
- Powdered Sugar – our base. Powdered sugar adds sweetness and stability to the frosting. There is no substitute, because other sweeteners such as granulated sugar will affect the texture. Be sure to whisk out any clumps for a perfectly smooth frosting.
- Cocoa Powder – adds a rich, chocolate flavor. As with the powdered sugar, be sure to whisk out any clumps to achieve the best texture.
- Salt – balances out the sweetness of the sugar while also enhancing the chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder.
- Coffee – thins out the sugar to create a thick, but spreadable frosting consistency. Again, the coffee doesn’t really add a coffee flavor, but it does intensify the chocolate flavor. If you really don’t want to use coffee, I’d suggest using heavy cream in its place.
- Vanilla – provides depth of flavor and a subtle sweetness/warmth to the frosting. Again, pure or imitation vanilla may be used.
How to make
- Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, then whisk to combine and break up any clumps, then whisk in coffee, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
- Pour the batter into a greased non-stick 8×8 square baking dish, bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees F, then set aside to cool.
- Place powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine and break up any clumps, then whisk in coffee and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
- Spread over cooled cake and enjoy!
- Make this vegan. Use organic, certified vegan granulated sugar and powdered sugar to make this recipe truly vegan.
- Omit the coffee. Use water to replace the coffee in the cake and heavy cream (or milk) to replace the coffee in the frosting. I don’t recommend, however, because I don’t think the cake/frosting are as flavorful.
- Use another frosting. Try my favorite vanilla frosting or oreo buttercream instead!
- Make into cupcakes. Fill each cavity of your favorite cupcake tin 3/4ths of the way full with batter then bake about 15-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out *almost* clean.
How to store
Leftover cake will last at room temperature in a sealed airtight container for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To enjoy again, thaw in the fridge overnight, if frozen, then enjoy at room temperature or warmed in the microwave.
Equipment for this recipe
Chocolate Wacky Cake
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coffee anything you have leftover is fine (instant coffee is great as well)
- 6 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons coffee
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate Wacky Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a non-stick square 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, then whisk to combine and break up any clumps.
- Add in coffee, oil, vinegar, and vanilla, and whisk until *just* combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out *almost* clean.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool before frosting.
- Place powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine and break up any clumps.
- Add in coffee and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
- Spread over cooled cake, slice, and enjoy room temperature or warmed in the microwave.
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.