Chocolate Depression Cake Recipe

A Chocolate Depression Cake, also known as “Wacky Cake” or “Crazy Cake,” is a type of cake that became popular during the Great Depression due to its lack of eggs, milk, and butter, which were then expensive or hard to obtain. It’s a surprisingly moist and delicious cake that relies on basic pantry ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe for you to follow:


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8-inch square baking pan or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk these ingredients together until they are well combined.
  3. Make three wells. Make three deep depressions in the dry ingredients – two small and one larger. Pour the vinegar in one of the small wells, the vanilla extract in the other small well, and the vegetable oil in the larger well.
  4. Add the water. Pour the water over the entire mixture. With a fork or a whisk, stir everything together until the batter is smooth and well combined. It’s important not to overmix, just stir until you can’t see any large lumps.
  5. Pour into the pan. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a spatula to scrape all the batter from the bowl, and to smooth out the top.
  6. Bake the cake. Place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
  7. Cool the cake. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for a bit, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. You can serve it directly from the pan if preferred.
  8. Frost (optional). Once the cake is completely cool, you can dust it with powdered sugar or spread your favorite frosting on top.


  • To make a simple vanilla frosting, combine 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of softened butter or margarine, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of milk or water. Adjust the liquid to get to your desired consistency.
  • For a vegan frosting, you can use a plant-based butter alternative and a milk substitute like almond or soy milk.

Enjoy your homemade Chocolate Depression Cake! It’s a testament to the fact that simple ingredients can still make for an incredibly delicious dessert.

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