Wacky cake is an easy cake recipe your whole family will love! Because it’s made without eggs, it’s the perfect recipe to make when you don’t want to run to the grocery store.
I know what you’re thinking. “This cake doesn’t look very wacky!”
You may have been expecting tie-dye colors or maybe some googly eyes on top (it doesn’t get much wackier than googly eyes, right?!), but instead it’s just a chocolate cake. What makes it wacky?!
Chocolate Wacky Cake Recipe
Wacky cake is a type of cake that was popular during the Great Depression. It’s also sometimes called depression cake, crazy cake, or even war cake since it was also popular during wartime. Wacky cake gets its name from the fact that it doesn’t contain any eggs or dairy, which is pretty wacky when you think about it. (Okay, maybe it’s not wacky. But out of the ordinary? It’s definitely that!)
During the depression, eggs were a luxury item that people didn’t always have on hand like we do now. So, when they wanted to make a cake for dessert but didn’t have any eggs, they came up with this wacky cake recipe. And we still make it today because: it’s really good! Wacky cake is rich, moist, and chocolatey.
Without the eggs, wacky cake gets its rise from the baking soda and vinegar. When these two ingredients are combined, they create a chemical reaction that gives the cake the lift you’d normally get from beating eggs into the batter.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
For the chocolate wacky cake:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – Be sure to use cocoa powder, not hot cocoa mix!
- Kosher salt
- Baking soda
- Vanilla extract
- White distilled vinegar – AKA white vinegar.
- Canola oil – Or another neutral-flavored oil you like to use for baking, like vegetable oil.
For the frosting:
- Unsalted butter – Let this soften to room temperature so it’s easy to combine with the other frosting ingredients.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – Sift this into a bowl to remove any lumps.
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Whole milk
You can also switch up this recipe with another frosting. Try fluffy vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting for something different! You can also spread whipped cream over the top or dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve it with a scoop of ice cream.
How to Make Wacky Cake
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a 9×13 cake pan with butter or cooking spray.
2. Mix the Dry Ingredients
Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk them together.
3. Finish the Cake Batter
Add the remaining ingredients to the dry ingredients. Whisk everything together until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the baking pan on a wire rack before you frost it.
5. Make the Frosting
Use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment to cream the butter and cocoa until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and vanilla, then slowly add the milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
6. Frost the Cake
Use an offset spatula to frost the cooled cake, then cut, plate, grab a fork, and dig in!
How to Store Wacky Cake
Wacky cake is best served the day it’s made. But if you have leftovers, store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. Wacky cake can be frozen, too! Just store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
Wacky cake tastes like a rich, chocolatey, and moist cake. It’s not too sweet, which makes it the perfect canvas for a delicious frosting or glaze.
Wacky cake gets its name from the fact that it doesn’t contain any eggs. It’s a type of cake that was popular during the Great Depression and World War II because eggs were a luxury item that people didn’t always have on hand. Instead, wacky cake is made with simple pantry staples. No one is quite sure who invented it or exactly when.
Yes, wacky cake can be made into cupcakes! Just fill a muffin tin with batter and bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
There are many variations of wacky cake. Some recipes include adding nuts, dried coconut, chocolate chips, fruit, or even strongly brewed coffee instead of water for more depth of flavor. You can also switch things up by adding different kinds of frosting, decorating with sprinkles for a birthday cake, etc.
More Easy Cake Recipes
- Copycat Portillo’s Chocolate Cake
- Strawberry Cake
- Old Fashioned Red Velvet Cake
- Hummingbird Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white distilled vinegar
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tbsp whole milk
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- For the cake, add the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly to combine until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, cream the butter and cocoa until smooth & fluffy with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to mix until combined. Slowly add the milk until you reach the desired consistency. Scrape the sides of the bowl and stir to fully incorporate.