Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (2024)

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Chocolate Depression Cake, or Wacky Cake is a unique retro cake recipe that uses basic pantry ingredients, but no eggs! This chocolate cake recipe was made to use what you had on hand. It is a simply delicious chocolate cake!

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (1)

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake

The Great Depression was a scary time for Americans. This time of scarcity lasted about 10 years, and had a global reach.

For housewives, and others who made the meals for their families, getting creative in the kitchen was a must. They had to use what they had on hand, or could get cheap, if at all.

This retro chocolate cake recipe speaks to the cleverness of those cooks, and shows us what is possible to make with less.

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (2)

What this Cake Doesn't Have

Amazingly this is a chocolate cake made without eggs, butter, or milk. I read that many people even made it without sugar!

Luckily there are ingredients that work to make a cake rise, and to make it moist.

I do think that even though this is a Depression Cake, it must have been a splurge for most people in those days.

The steps to make this retro chocolate cake recipe are simple. Here they are:

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (3)
Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (4)
Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (5)

The original recipe did not call for frosting, but I like to frost my cakes, so I use my Nana's recipe for Easy Chocolate 1 Minute Icing.

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (6)

This cake is tender, moist, and has a nice flavor. It tastes a lot like Devil's Food Cake when you make it with coffee.

Making it with water is also good, and the cake has a lighter flavor.

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Pin This Chocolate Cake Recipe

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (7)

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (8)

If you make this chocolate cake recipe, let me know! Just leave a comment with a star rating below, I'd like to know how you liked it!

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (9)

Depression Cake - Wacky Cake

A delicious retro chocolate cake recipe that uses no eggs! Mix it all in the baking dish.

5 from 11 votes

Print Rate

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keyword: 3 hole cake recipe, crazy cake recipe, depression chocolate cake, wacky cake recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes minutes

Servings: 9

Calories: 246kcal

Author: Sandy Clifton

Equipment

  • 8"x8" Baking Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Cooled Coffee or Water I use half coffee / half water

Instructions

  • In an ungreased 8"x8" baking dish, add the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar, and cocoa powder. Whisk together.

  • Make 3 small wells in the mix. Add the oil to one, vinegar to another, and vanilla to the third.

  • Pour the coffee (or water) over and gently whisk together just until combined.

  • Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.

  • Remove from oven and let cool in dish on a wire rack.

  • Frost if desired (the original had no frosting, but we like 1-Minute Chocolate Frosting

  • Cut into 9 squares and serve.

Notes

Easy Chocolate 1 Minute Icing

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal

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Reader Interactions

Comments

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  1. Sue says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (14)
    Every year my son requests this cake for his birthday. This is the first time I used coffee. I am so happy I did because it turned out great. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Wendy Hone says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (15)
    I love this cake recipe the texture is Divine.

    Reply

  3. KT says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (16)
    This cake recipe was FANTASTIC!!! It was so moist and rich and the rise on the cake was amazing! I will definitely be making this recipe again and again!

    I did sift the dry ingredients to eliminate any lumps before adding the liquid ingredients, added an extra half teaspoon of vanilla extract and reduced the vinegar to 1 tsp. I frosted the cake with some warmed Nutella spread in which I added about a tsp of coconut oil. WOW!

    Thanks for sharing this great retro recipe!!

    Reply

  4. Terry says

    Can this be adjusted to make in a 9 x 13 pan?

    Reply

    • Sandy says

      I would say to double the recipe, but I have not tested it. The cook time may need to be altered a little as well.

      Reply

  5. Carol Brasington says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (17)
    I've made this cake several times now and it's always FANTASTIC! Thank you.

    Reply

  6. Audrey says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (18)
    My grandmother and mom made this and mom made it for my birthday a few times with mini marshmallows melted in oven and then put chocolate frosting on top of marshmallows.
    I had lost the recipe, so glad I found it on Pinterest.

    Reply

  7. Chris says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (19)
    SOOOO yummy and easy to make. My 3 granddaughters made it with me. Now it's a weekly date for wacky cake 🎂

    Reply

    • Sandy says

      So fun!

      Reply

  8. Collenev says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (20)
    Great recipe. Thanks so much! If I want to make a white cake, do I just omit the cocoa powder?

    Reply

    • Sandy says

      Yes. You can add a few Tablespoons of vanilla pudding mix if you want for a great vanilla flavor.

      Reply

  9. Susan loeppky says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (21)
    I have been making this cake for 60 years now never fail cake recipe

    Reply

  10. Sharlima Colbeck says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (22)
    I made this cake for my daughter who is vegan. Loved it great recipe .Will make it again.

    Reply

  11. Briyana says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (23)
    Such a yummy cake!! I made some for my husband and I, my Grandma, and his co-workers and everybody loved it!! My grandma requested me to make another cake just the other day. 😂

    Reply

  12. Cindy says

    Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (24)
    I made this cake this evening ,wow it was amazing loved it I have to have frosting on my cakes ,I’m gluten free and soy free so I made it with gluten free flour and it still came out great ,my husband has no allergies just me and he loved this cake thx

    Reply

Chocolate Depression Cake - Wacky Cake - Retro Recipe Box (2024)
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