Depression Era Chocolate CRAZY CAKE Recipe

by Texas Homesteader ~

I’d been reading about the great depression lately and how certain ingredients were hard to come by in those days. Ingredients such as milk, eggs and butter.

But their motto even way back then was the same as mine today: 

Use whatcha got! 

The resilient folks living during this drastic economic downturn were still able to add a sweet treat to their family’s table from time to time. They baked up a sweet treat many called “Crazy Cake”.

What? A chocolate cake made with no eggs, butter, milk or even BOWLS??  I’m intrigued, that’s the kind of recipe that’s got my name all over it!  DEPRESSION-ERA CHOCOLATE CRAZY CAKE RECIPE - no eggs, butter, milk or even BOWLS! Quick & easy with BONUS no-cook chocolate frosting recipe! #TexasHomesteader

Jump to Recipe

Now I’ve seen this recipe several times over the years but I got this particular recipe over at Sweet Little Bluebird. But of course I’ve changed it somewhat to suit my tastes. Particularly the amount of cocoa included and the addition of cold coffee mixed with the water to emphasize the chocolate flavor.  Why yes I’m a chocoholic, why do you ask??

Simple EASY Directions

First I preheated my oven to 325 degrees & greased my 8×8 glass dish. Here’s where you just start dumping in a few simple staples:  Flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda & salt.

Mix it all lightly with a fork & make two small and one larger indention on top of these ingredients. Now drop in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into one indention, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in the other small indention, and 5 tablespoons vegetable oil into the larger indention.

DEPRESSION-ERA CHOCOLATE CRAZY CAKE RECIPE - no eggs, butter, milk or even BOWLS! Quick & easy with BONUS no-cook chocolate frosting recipe! #TexasHomesteader

Although the original recipe called for a cup of water, I love to add a bit of coffee whenever I’m making anything chocolate.

So I poured about 1/4 cup cold coffee in my measuring cup and filled the rest up to the 1-cup line with water. I poured the coffee/water mixture on top of it all and mixed it all in with my fork, stirring just until incorporated.

Now that it’s all mixed up I placed the cake in an oven preheated to 325 for my glass pan & set the timer for 35 minutes. My cake needed a little longer, about 5 minutes more. I baked my cake for a total of 40 minutes.

Should I Frost The Cake?  YES!

I  brought the cake out of the oven and while it was cooling I decided to whip up my favorite no-cook frosting. It was easy (of course!) I made it by stirring together some softened butter, vanilla, coffee, honey and powdered sugar.

DEPRESSION-ERA CHOCOLATE CRAZY CAKE RECIPE - no eggs, butter, milk or even BOWLS! Quick & easy with BONUS no-cook chocolate frosting recipe! #TexasHomesteader

As I frosted the cake it looked delicious and smelled amazing. But c’mon – a cake with no butter (frosting excluded), milk or eggs? I think the bigger question here is how does it taste?

Ding, Ding, Ding – We Have a WINNER!

Well, it was DELICIOUS!  I especially loved the brownie-like texture of the cake. Next time I make this cake I may use a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake and pour the frosting on the hot cake, causing the frosting to melt into the holes for a delicious poke cake version.

Of course if you wanted you could probably just sprinkle powdered sugar on top for a much lighter version. Or sprinkle chocolate chips and let them melt, spreading with a knife for a quick icing. Or heck, leave it as is – the cake’s delicious and the texture is decadent!

So this ends up being a super inexpensive chocolaty dessert that whips up in minutes. I’ll share the recipe as I amended it below. And I’ll also include a link to my frosting recipe.  Give it a try!


Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, coffee
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 people


Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Coffee
  • 5 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 teaspoon White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (325 for glass pan)
  2. Grease an 8"x8" square baking dish. Measure the dry ingredients into the greased dish and blend lightly with a fork. With the back of the measuring spoon make two small indentions in the dry ingredients. With the back of a measuring cup make one larger indention.
  3. In one of the small indentations pour 1 teaspoon vinegar, in the other small indentation pour 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. In the larger indentation add 5 Tablespoons vegetable oil. (I don't know why the wet ingredients are separated this way, but this is what the recipe called for so I always do it)
  4. Pour coffee / water mixture over all and mix with a fork just until thoroughly blended. Place baking pan on the middle rack of preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine always takes 40 minutes)
  5. Bring cake out of oven and cool. Top with your favorite frosting, or just slice and enjoy the cake plain - great for the kid's lunchboxes.

Frosting recipe:  Quick & Easy No-Cook Chocolate Frosting



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46 thoughts on “Depression Era Chocolate CRAZY CAKE Recipe

  1. Pingback: GOOD MORNING MONDAYS #111 | Darling Downs Diaries

  2. Michelle

    Oh my yummyliciousness, I have got to try this. It sounds so easy to make and seriously, with that hint of coffee and chocolate, it sounds like heaven on a plate.

  3. Ilene

    I remember when my mom first got a recipe from somewhere, that was similar to this. It was called “Mayonnaise Cake”, because it called for real mayonnaise instead of the oil and vinegar. Of course there’s egg in the mayo so that’s not truly an eggless cake. And then when I ate in the school cafeteria as a teenager during the 60’s our cooks were so proud of their “Wacky Cake”, the recipe being same as yours. It was something we kids all loved and was not expensive to make. We used to sneak over during gym and beg for leftovers. Heh!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve heard of mayonnaise cake Ilene, although I’ve never made it before. But you’re right about this crazy cake (aka: wacky cake) it’s sure not expensive to make! ~TMH~

  4. Kerby

    I have been hearing about this type of cake and it looks fantastic, will have to try! Pinned for later ๐Ÿ™‚
    Visiting from eighteen25.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I know there are many ways to change-up this recipe for different flavors Nancy. But I always, ALWAYS make chocolate because the words “…leave out the cocoa” just do not compute for me. LOL ~TMH~

  5. Nancy

    I made this cake last night in less than 10!minutes & it was really really good! My husband was so surprised at how good it was. Is there a recipe for maybe a vanilla cake like this ???? Thank you.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      OMG Nancy, RIGHT??? I assumed this was one of those “the best they could do under the circumstances” kinda recipes but Oh. My. GOSH! It’s a keeper recipe in the Taylor Household, with the added benefit that it’s very fast to prepare and takes very inexpensive ingredients. Win/win! ~TMH~

  6. JES

    Great recipe! Especially right now when our chickens are on strike and we aren’t milking! Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Donna Dean

    Thanks for the reminder .. I am 79 yo and this is just like a “Wacky” cake I made years ago. My Gramma called it a Civil War cake. Now gotta go make it again …

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I was so pleasantly surprised Donna. I expected it to be a “good-enough” cake, but instead it was absolutely delicious and a new household fave! Love your grandmother’s name for it. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~TMH~

  8. Karen Del Tatto

    I am SOOO excited to try this recipe!! I am all about coffee in chocolate or icing, and you’ve done it here for both!! I just never know HOW to do it.

    My grandmother made a cake years ago that I always called molasses cake, but I’m not even sure it was. But it was her icing that “took the cake”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It definitely tasted like it had coffee flavoring in it. I have been trying to find a recipe that is similar to hers. (Unfortunately, we never found her cookbook after she died.)

    Thanks so much for sharing! I have pinned both the recipe and the recipe for the icing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      OMGoodness Karen – DO IT!! This cake when coupled with the frosting is quick & easy and absolutely delicious. And yeah, coffee… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let us know how you like it. ~TMH~

  9. Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage

    I used to make something similar years ago when we were very poor.

    Be blessed! I’m amazed at how many times I click through on a linky and find you.
    I have a very naughty doggy who keeps running off and not coming when called.
    I’m thinking about getting a shock collar like you did.
    Do you still think it was a good idea? Do you have to keep it on the dog all the time?
    She’s an indoor dog.

    Please drop by and say hello!
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    …doing what I can with what I’ve got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Laura, we still have our training collar for Bailey and we still use it for reinforcement when she begins to forget her training. Consistency is key! When we initially began her training we kept the collar on her all day & removed it at night when she was sleeping (for her comfort). Gradually we took it off and only replaced it when we knew it would be more difficult to get her attention, such as when RancherMan took her out in the pastures to check on the cattle with him. When she began to respond immediately without needing to activate the tone on the collar we knew we could relax her training until she started backsliding again. We reinforce her training about once every 3-4 months now. Out here, immediate obedience is so important – that critter that has her attention could be a skunk or a copperhead snake, or a coyote. For her safety she must respond immediately (and she does!) Training collars can be used incorrectly and cause more harm than good, or used correctly and result in a happy, safer pet. ~TMH~

  10. Jean |

    Tammy, I just came over from your link at Happiness is Homemade party. Couldn’t resist a post about depression cake. I posted mine 2 years ago (I know because I just had to go back and look at it after I read your post). And now I’ll go over and read Sweet Little Bluebird’s post. I so agree with you about the coffee–it really brings up the chocolate flavor. Isn’t it amazing how a cake with no eggs can have that texture! Looking forward to reading more of your blog this afternoon.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’d heard of crazy cake before Jean, but I thought maybe it was one of those ‘the best they could do under the circumstances’ kind of recipes and never really wanted to give it a try. Why oh why did I wait so long? LOVE this cake!! ~TMH~

  11. ColleenB.~Texas

    Thank You for posting this Tammy.
    I used to make this all the time but then I misplaced my recipe and haven’t been able to make it for awhile.
    I’m not much of a frosting eater so I usually just sprinkled alittle powdered sugar on time; sometimes using a stencil and making a fancy design on top.

  12. Daphne

    Good Afternoon Greg, Well I never, what a marvellous cake. I have never heard of such a cake. I thought my Nan Ivy was amazing during the war years baking cakes with powdered egg and very little sugar, but I have never heard of this method.
    I am really look forward to trying it as I am a bit of a chocolate lover.
    Best Wishes

  13. Lynn F.

    I used to make this cake with my Gramma when I was as young as 2. I had to stand on a chair and she let me stir. I cooked with her until she died in 1966. I am 66 years old and my Gramma was born in the 1880s. I loved the cake then and I am so glad to see the recipe again. You made my day! Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Indeed Cheryl. Thankfully it doesn’t take much so I’m still able to get my fill in the coffee mug before savign enough for the cake. LOL But to me, intensifying the chocolate flavor it important so I’m willing to sacrifice that wee bit of coffee for such a noble purpose… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Try it, you’ll love it! ~TMH~

  14. Margy

    I love chocolate cake! Before we had a refrigerator at the cabin I used to make a version of “War Cake” that I called Cabin Cake. Like yours, it included no eggs or milk and just a bit of margarine. It’s a heavy cake, but easy to make with items on your pantry shelf.

  15. Jessica [Havok]

    I’m thinking I’m going to need to make this this weekend (and, luckily, have all the ingredients on hand, woo!)! I’ve always liked the idea of homemade dessert, and have made plenty and plenty, but some of them take so many darned ingredients (I’m sure it’s worth it, but to have to buy extra things just to make a dessert seems wasteful, when I already have the baking staples!). It’s been crummy, rainy, Oregon weather this past week, and the weekend looks no different, so this will be the perfect pick-me-up for us! Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh heck, I’m with you Jessica. Too many ingredients is a turn-off for me too. Give this cake a try, I don’t think you can find an quicker or easier cake and it’s absolutely delicious! ~TMH~

  16. Claudia Wagner

    I made what amounts to double this recipe. Sent some home with my daughter, put half in the freezer, and ate the rest. I didn’t bother with the three wells. It mixed up just fine. Added flour to compensate for our altitude. Good flavor and texture and easy, easy, easy.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Claudia, I always worry about making too much cake for just the two of us here, but I seldom think about freezing half (thumps forehead…) But I’ve gotta agree with you wholeheartedly – good flavor and texture and easy, easy, easy! ~TMH~

  17. Sharon D

    I used to make this all the time, and the longer it sits the moister it gets. I think you will enjoy it more each day.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I was very surprised by the moistness of this cake Sharon. A couple of days after it was baked we had company & RancherMan offered them a piece of this cake. I cringed a little knowing it was a couple of days old but you’re right, it was still moist & delicious. This recipe has now attained the rank of my go-to homemade cake recipe! ~TMH~


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