I have always been a huge fan of depression era recipes. It was the way I learned to cook in my grandma’s kitchen when I was young. This depression-era chocolate crazy cake is one of my absolute favorites.
This crazy cake recipe uses no eggs, butter, or milk because those items could be hard to come by in those days. This was especially true for families like my grandma who lived in a small town in southern Ohio.
How to Make a Chocolate Crazy Cake
This is such a simple recipe. It’s so easy that you make it right in the pan! No need for extra bowls or dishes, but of course if you prefer you can always do it in a bowl.
You must pay attention to the technique with this recipe. It will make or break your chocolate crazy cake.
You can make a few substitutions here. For example, if you don’t have cocoa powder you can always do a cinnamon or vanilla cake. You will be ok if all you have is white wine vinegar instead of distilled white vinegar. I wouldn’t use balsamic vinegar or anything like that though.
For the most part, though, you must do the recipe with the exact ingredients. It is this combination of ingredients that will help your cake to come together and rise.
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C sugar
1/4 C cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp distilled white vinegar
5 Tbsp vegetable oil ( or coconut oil)
1 C water
Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. Use a whisk to lightly combine all of the dry ingredients.
Make three indentations in the dry ingredients once they are combined. You want one large one and two smaller ones. This will help to keep your wet ingredients separated until you are ready to mix everything.
Place the oil in the larger indentation. Then add the vinegar to one of the smaller ones and the vanilla to the other.
Once you have all of the indentations filled pour the 1 C of water over everything. You want to get it as evenly spread out as possible to help keep anything from clumping up.
Gently stir the ingredients until they resemble a cake batter. It’s best to do a folding movement at first as the sides of the pan aren’t as high as a bowl would be. You can make a mess here if you aren’t careful. ( or if you’re just a huge klutz like me)
Bake your chocolate crazy cake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. You can use a toothpick to ensure that your cake has finished baking. If the toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake then it is done.
You want to let the cake cool completely before decorating it. This cake is good enough on its own that you can easily get away with just a powdered sugar dusting. We decided to go with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, because why not?
Your chocolate crazy cake will last for about 3-4 days as long as you keep it tightly covered. You can put it in the fridge if you prefer, but I find that it does just fine on the counter.
Chocolate Crazy Cake
- 1½ C all-purpose flour
- 1 C granulated sugar
- ¼ C cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
- 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 C water
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar to a 9 x 9 baking pan. Use a whisk to lightly combine all of the dry ingredients in the pan.
- Make two small holes and one large one in the dry ingredients in the pan.
- Add the vegetable oil to the large indentation. Pour the vinegar in one of the small indentations and the vanilla extract in the other.
- Pour the water over the whole thing and use a spatula to gently combine all of the ingredients until just combined.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting. You can use my chocolate buttercream recipe ( or even my peanut butter buttercream...yum!) or just use store bought.
How to Store a Chocolate Crazy Cake
This cake should be just fine on the counter for a few days since it doesn’t have anything like milk or eggs that would cause it to spoil outside of the refrigerator. However, it is important that you keep a tight cover on it.