No butter, no milk, and no eggs needed! Wacky Cake, Crazy Cake, Depression Cake, this super simple, one-bowl cake recipe goes by many names. It’s incredibly moist, rich, and fudgy despite being made with only basic pantry staples! Also includes an easy chocolate icing made with no butter, milk, or eggs!
I didn’t originally plan to share this recipe on the blog today but, considering current events and the fact that many of us are self isolating at home, I thought some basic, simple recipes were in order. Ones that would help you make the most of the ingredients you currently have on hand and don’t require any unnecessary grocery store visits.
Today’s “Crazy Cake” is precisely that kind of recipe. It uses no butter, no eggs, and no milk and yet yields an insanely moist, fudgy chocolate cake. It’s made in just one bowl and is basically fool-proof. Despite the simplicity of the recipe, it holds its own against even my favorite chocolate cake recipe.
Crazy cake (also known as “Wacky Cake”) is not my own invention. It’s a product of the depression era when ingredients were scarce and people had to make the best of what they could find in their pantry. It’s made an appearance on the blog before, in the form of the cupcake base for my grandmother’s recipe for black bottom cupcakes, so it might even seem familiar to you.
How to Make Crazy Cake:
- Start by whisking together all of your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl. Back in the day, the ingredients were often mixed together directly in the baking pan, but I think it’s easier and worth the extra dish to make in a separate bowl.
- Make a well in the center (see photo above).
- Add your wet ingredients (water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract) into the well in the center of the bowl.
- Whisk all ingredients together until you have a smooth cake batter.
- Pour into an 8×8″ baking dish and bake until cooked through. Cool and cover with icing, if desired (more on the icing below!).
Wacky cake is incredibly simple to make, but the easiest way to go wrong is by accidentally over-baking the cake. Keep an eye on it and cook just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs).
It goes without saying that you can really use any icing you’d like on this cake. Buttercream frosting, chocolate frosting, peanut butter frosting, cream cheese frosting, even Swiss meringue buttercream, any of these would work great (though you would only need a half-batch).
But…! All of these recipes use butter. And some of them use milk, or eggs! And if we had butter and milk and eggs… well we’d probably just be making classic chocolate cake, right? We wouldn’t be here in the first place. So I wanted to provide you with a frosting that also uses no butter, milk, or eggs.
Technically this frosting is a glaze, but it’s a thick, fudgy one (it reminds me of the glaze I use on my Texas sheet cake). It’s incredibly simple to make: whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, water, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Can I Make this in a 9×13″ pan?
Making this exact recipe in a 9×13″ pan would yield a very thin cake. If you double the recipe, though, you can make it in a 9×13″ pan. You can also make the recipe as written in a 9×9″ or 11×7″ pan, you will just need to reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes or so.
What’s with the Vinegar?
I’ve had a lot of people ask me if they can make crazy cake without vinegar. Unfortunately, because this recipe is made without eggs, the vinegar is a necessity. It reacts with the baking soda to give the cake its lift and perfect texture (and does not make the cake taste like vinegar at all!) I do not know of a substitute that would work as well, though you can use white vinegar or apple cider.
Can I Make a Vanilla Crazy Cake?
Yes! Just leave out the cocoa powder for a vanilla version. I also like to increase the amount of vanilla extract used to 1 ½ teaspoons.
How to Store:
Store in an airtight container (or just cover the cake with plastic wrap) at room temperature for up to 5 days. It will keep longer in the refrigerator, but keep it tightly covered to keep it from drying out.
More Recipes You Might Like:
Are you more of a visual learner? Check out my YouTube channel where I show you exactly how I make this cake step-by-step in my own kitchen.
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (190g)
- ¼ cup natural cocoa powder (25g)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease an 8x8 glass baking dish².
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk or stir all ingredients together until batter is smooth.
- Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake on 350F (175C) for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over-bake or the cake will be dry.
- Allow cake to cool before frosting.
- To prepare the icing, whick together sugar, cocoa powder, water, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Icing should be a thick and fudgy consistency, but should be spread-able. If it is too thick, add additional water one teaspoon at a time until the proper consistency is achieved.
- Once cake has cooled, gently spread frosting evenly overtop. Enjoy!
Store covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. Cake will keep even longer if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator by the fridge may dry out the cake a bit.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.