Chocolate Depression Cake

Chocolate Depression Cake recipe originates from the Great Depression. Also known as a Crazy Cake or Wacky Cake,  it’s also egg-free and dairy free for those with allergy issues

My grandparents were all born in 1917/1918. When the Great Depression hit, they were old enough to understand why they had to ration and do without many things we take for granted today.  They drank their coffee black because they learned to do without the luxury of cream and sugar.

It’s funny, but I don’t remember them talking much about that time period as a hardship. They were young, in their teens. I remember the stories of them walking to school in the snow, having to help out around the house with chores. No TV, just a radio to listen to in the evenings.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (or cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

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  1. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, vinegar, oil and water. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and no lumps remain.
  3. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 square pan.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Let cake cool completely before frosting.

for the frosting

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave using a microwave safe dish.) Stir in cocoa powder, mixture will form a thick paste.
  2. Transfer chocolate mixture to a medium size mixing bowl. With mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.
  3. Once ingredients are incorporated, turn mixer to medium high speed and beat about 5 minutes, until frosting is smooth and creamy. Spread on top of cooled cake.

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