Crazy Cake is a timeless cake that has been passed down through generations. Milkless, eggless and butterless, this cake originated during WWII rationing, when these ingredients were difficult to obtain.
I love to make cakes. I enjoy the process of baking and decorating them, but sometimes I want a cake to satisfy my chocolate dessert craving without all the fuss. I reach for this crazy cake recipe whenever I want a little bit of chocolate cake, without all the steps that are usually involved in cakemaking.
This recipe has been passed down through the centuries, and creates an unbelievably easy, moist, and tender chocolate cake that can be mixed up in just 10 minutes! To keep things authentic I’ve even paired it with a simple chocolate frosting that is also dairy-free and incredibly easy to make.
What is Crazy Cake?
This vintage recipe ties back to the great depression and is a quick and easy cake recipe made with simple ingredients. It has no butter, no milk, no eggs. I like to think it got its name because it is so crazy easy to make! But it is also called Wacky Cake, depression cake, war cake, poor man’s cake, and one bowl cake. This delicious chocolate cake is the ultimate comfort food and is just about the easiest cake you will ever make.
The History of Crazy Cake
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic collapse that began in 1929 and led to food scarcity. Dairy products, butter, and eggs were in short supply and rationed, which meant you were only allowed to buy a small amount (even if you could afford more). Government rationing of consumer goods was a way to ensure everyone got their fair share. During the depression, creative homemakers made do with ingredients available and found ways to reduce their dependence on scarce ingredients to feed their families.
Crazy Cake Recipe is a very simple recipe that was born from the time of food shortages and rationing during the depression era. This tried, and true recipe has enjoyed a few resurgences in popularity. In the 1960s-70s, this cake recipe can be found in several newspaper columns and cookbooks, probably due to the children of the women of the 1940s growing up and nostalgically revisiting this recipe. This recipe appeared to be on home baker’s radar again in early 2020 when Coronavirus lockdowns led many people to bake comfort food loaves of bread, cakes and treats at home. This delicious cake made from simple pantry ingredients has stood the test of time.
Crazy Cake Ingredients
This chocolate cake gets its fun name because it is mixed together in the pan it will be baked in and doesn’t include any butter, milk, or eggs. What you will need to make crazy cake is:
- all-purpose flour
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- baking soda
- vegetable oil
- white vinegar
How To Make Crazy Cake
This cake couldn’t be simpler to make! Some bakers even mix up the ingredients right in the baking pan to avoid washing a mixing bowl. I prefer to use a mixing bowl to prevent my non-stick cooking spray from getting mixed into the batter with the other ingredients.
- Combine all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk to distribute.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stir.
- Pour the cake batter into an 8×8 greased baking pan. Bake in the oven until a cake tester or toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Traditionally, crazy cake isn’t paired with frosting, but if you like a sweet topping, a simple chocolate frosting like the one I’ve included with the recipe here mixes up quickly and uses pantry staples. Frost the cake when it is completely cooled.
For More Vintage Recipes, Check Out:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 5 heaping tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup natural cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease an 8x8 glass baking dish.
- 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 chocolate frosting, whisk 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.
- Gently spread frosting evenly overtop cooled cake.
This recipe doubles nicely! Just bake doubled batch in 9×12 pan for about 30-35 minutes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 432mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 2gSugar: 43gProtein: 4g
Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates. Please see my Nutrition Disclaimer for more information.