Depression-Era Chocolate Cake Recipe

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Depression-era chocolate cake (no eggs, milk, or butter) |

I always have a hard time picking favorites, but there’s no doubt in my mind that chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is my absolute favorite, favorite dessert.

This recipe was adapted from one that I found in an old Reminisce magazine several years ago. I’m not sure anymore where the magazine with the original recipe is, but it was one that had been submitted by one of the magazine’s readers, and it is a simple, old-fashioned recipe.

This Depression era chocolate cake does not call for any butter, milk, or eggs, allowing for those who did not have access to these ingredients or could not afford them to still have a cake for special occasions. This cake also would have been perfect for the winter season when access to butter, milk, and eggs would have been much more limited.

In place of these ingredients, this cake uses water, oil, and a mix of baking soda and vinegar as the rising agent. During the time when this cake was created, the oil used could have been lard, but newer vegetables oils were becoming increasingly popular in this era, so it is equally possible that the oil might have been soybean oil or cottonseed oil.

For my version of this cake, I “real foodified” the ingredients and used coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil.

Depression Era Chocolate Cake Recipe:

This cake is a rich, fudgy kind of cake. It’s not one of those fluffy cakes with no substance that falls apart as soon as you put your fork in it. This cake is for the serious dark chocolate lovers out there 🙂


* The powdered ginger and coffee are optional. I like to add them just because they give the chocolate a little more “depth of flavor” as professional bakers like to say. You can’t taste either the ginger or coffee, but they enhance the chocolate flavor. And if you’ve ever tried making your own homemade vinegar, you could use that in place of the store bought apple cider vinegar too.


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 13 x 9 inch pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and ginger, stirring to mix well.
  3. Add melted and cooled coconut oil, vanilla, and lukewarm water. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add coffee and apple cider vinegar, stirring well to make sure there are no lumps in the batter. The batter will foam up a bit as the baking soda reacts with the acid in the vinegar and the coffee.
  5. Pour batter into cake pans and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you use a 13 x 9 pan rather than two cake pans, the cake might take a bit longer to bake through.)

Note: Because this cake calls for apple cider vinegar and water, it would probably work well if you wanted to use the soaked-grain method and use whole wheat flour soaked in the acidic water. I haven’t tried this yet because I didn’t want to wait for the batter to soak overnight before baking my cake, but if I were to try this, I would mix the apple cider vinegar and water together and mix it with 2 1/2 cups of flour (I think the full 3 cups would make the batter a bit too thick for soaking.) Then, I would cover the bowl and let it soak for 12-24 hours, and then add the rest of the ingredients as directed above. If anybody gives this method a try, leave a comment below to let us all know how it turned out!

Rich Chocolate Icing

What’s a good cake without a good icing too, right? Well, this icing is rich and decadent and so delicious that I may or may not have eaten several spoonfuls of it while I was frosting my cake 🙂


* If you don’t want to use refined sugar, you could make your own homemade powdered sugar using a whole cane sugar. For times when I don’t want to go through the extra work of making my own, though, I just buy regular confectioner’s sugar. (Balance is key, and a little bit of white, refined sugar once in a while isn’t the end of the world. ) I make sure I get cane sugar, though, because if the bag just says “sugar” there’s a good chance that it’s made from genetically modified sugar beets rather than cane sugar. Buying organic is your best bet of finding non-GMO sugar.


  1. Combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add vanilla extract and butter, ghee, or coconut oil.
  3. Gradually add water, stirring well to combine until icing reaches the right consistency for spreading. (I just stirred mine by hand because I was too lazy to dig out my mixer and I didn’t want to have to wash the beaters afterward, but using a mixer is the best way to get a smooth icing without any little clumps of cocoa powder.)

Enjoy your pure chocolate heaven 🙂


depression era choco cake pin rs

Other chocolate cake recipes to try:

Chocolate Espresso Cake (grain-free) by And Here We Are

Flourless Chocolate Rose Mini Cakes by Savory Lotus

Paleo German Chocolate Cake by Grok Grub

Grain-Free Chocolate Cake by Small Footprint Family

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes by Honest Body


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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

165 thoughts on “Depression-Era Chocolate Cake Recipe”

    • Does look delicious but I don’t see how it’s depression era because if they didn’t have eggs butter or milk they certainly didn’t have things like sea salt and coconut oil

      • You’re absolutely right that people living in the Depression era wouldn’t have been using coconut oil and sea salt. Those are just the ingredients I choose to use because they are easily available and healthy. If you want to make this a truly authentic old recipe, you can feel free to use regular salt and vegetable oil instead.

      • This was my favorite cake as a child, fond memories making this with my Mother. It is absolutely the BEST cake. We always made it with a light confectioners icing poured over the top.

  1. Do you have any alternatives to cane sugar in any cake recipes. Just learning so much about sugar lately and its bad effects on organs… Is cane ..raw cane sugar different that dominos sugar? Would you substitute anything else..xylitol or raw honey. I truly am searching for alternatives. Your site is just beautiful. Natalie

    • Hi Natalie,

      Good question! Raw cane sugar usually has a higher molasses content and a higher concentration of minerals than regular white sugar has, but a lot of sugars labeled “raw” are really just regular sugar with a little bit of molasses added back in for color. Sugars labeled “whole cane sugar” (often also called sucanat or rapadura) have that higher molasses and mineral content. It’s still sugar, but at least you get some of the minerals so it isn’t a completely empty food 🙂

      I’ve never tried baking with xylitol before, but I think honey could be a good substitute. I’ve never tried making a cake with using only honey before, but I’ve made one with half honey and half sugar, and it came out well. I lessened the water amount by a spoonful or two since the honey is a liquid. I bet maple syrup would also be a delicious substitute too!


    • I am diabetic and xylitol is great for cooking baking or anything. It tasts, looks, and feels like regular sugar but without the spikes. You can use same amounts as what is called for in the recipe or add a little more.

    • Natalie… Hi! A favorite sugar replacement for me with almost anything is Agave nectar. Make sure to buy Organic Agave of course. I buy the dark amber organic agave. You also need about half of that compared to regular sugar. Another good substitute is organic pure maple syrup. I used to use that before I found out about agave. No matter what they are still “sugars”, however, much healthier and still lend the sweetness you need. Hope this helps.

        • Making this again tonight. One child wants cupcakes and one wants a cake, so double duty tonight. I love having a dairy free recipe that doesn’t use soy or margarine since we have a child that attends our parties who is deathly allergic to dairy. The whole food spin is what makes yours the best!

  2. My Granny would make a rich dense chocolate cake and I have lovely childhood memories of it. When I looked for the recipe in her recipe box I was so disappointed it didn’t contain eggs, milk and butter. I had no idea why the recipe would have been created that way, and I haven’t dared to attempt to modify the ingredients to my own real food diet so thank you for posting both the modifications and for educating me on how the original recipe came to be!!

    • You’re welcome, Jenny! I always find it so fascinating to learn the history behind different recipes and see how they came about.

  3. This cake is more popularly know as Chocolate Crazy Cake. My mom made this all the time growing up and it isy go to recipe for chocolate cake. It is a different density then a typical box cake but the simplicity and flavor of this cake makes it worth it. Standard recipe will make a 2 layer cake and yes, 24 cupcakes :). Thanks for sharing with your readers!

    • I never knew this cake went by so many names! Thanks for sharing, Beth, and I’m glad to know that 24 cupcakes is correct! 🙂

  4. I have seen this cake and made it years ago when I would find it called “Kathryn’s Amazing Cake” or similar things. The mixing of the baking soda and vinegar are the rising agents, thus, they should be mixed as late as possible before putting the cake in the oven. For example, if you have ever made the vinegar and baking soda rockets that use the chemical reaction that causes the bubbles to “blast” the rocket off the base, you know that reaction is short lived. Leaving the vinegar and baking soda in contact will cause the reactants to become exhausted, and your cake will be as flat as a pancake. Sorry to say, some cooking is science.

    • You’re absolutely right – there is definitely science involved in baking! Science class was never one of my favorites in school, but I love baking, so I guess there’s one area of science that I can handle 🙂

  5. Hi there! I just followed a FB link to this page and just wanted to clarify….in the ingredient list, it calls for coffee. Does that mean already brewed, ready to sip coffee? Thanks. This cake looks wonderful and chocolate/chocolate cake is also my favorite, favorite dessert. 🙂

    • I only had instant coffee it calls for one tablespoon of brewed coffee I did not have real coffee so I actually used 2 tablespoons of instant lol ☕☕ so I figured why not! This cake came out perfect and I did a 13×9 sheet cake my family of 6 couldn’t stop talking about it! rich and almost fudgy like !!!!

      • I’ve used instant coffee before, too, when I didn’t have regular coffee 🙂 I’m so glad to hear that you liked the cake!

  6. I made this cake this weekend for my girls tea party! I used Einkorn Flour and it made the fudgyiest yummiest most scrumptious cake EVER this is going to be my go to cake recipe from now one!!! I loved it so much. It was so good we ate the WHOLE cake thank you so much and keep it coming!!!!

  7. This recipe looks awesome. I plan to try this recipe and make cupcakes tomorrow evening.

    Question: Could this recipe be made with a gluten free flour/flour substitute? Do you have any suggestions?

    • I’ve actually never tried it with gluten free flour. It might work, but you might have to adjust some of the other ingredients a bit. I’ve never done any baking with gluten free flour, so I’m not the best person to give suggestions. I found a gluten free chocolate cake recipe, though, from one of my fellow bloggers that has some similar ingredients to my recipe. You might be able to make some sort of combination of the two recipes since they both use apple cider vinegar and baking soda. I hope your cupcakes turn out well!

      • I have used applesauce instead of oil and have made many varieties. .it has been known as many different names 3 hole cake,depression cake,cemetery cake,wacky cake

        • Interesting! I’ve heard of wacky cake before, but 3 hole and cemetery are new names to me. I love all of the unique names that older recipes tend to have.

          • I remember my Mom making 3 holes for the oil, vinegar, water. Thanx for that jog back down memory lane!!!

      • I made mine with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose flour and it turned out well. I did also make the recipe in a 6′ pan and my only thing I would change is adding apple sauce instead of oil and to not fill the 6′ as full to allow the centre to cook faster and the outside not to become over cooked!

        • That’s good to know that it turned out well with the Bob’s gluten free flour as well! I’ve never tried using a gluten free flour for this recipe, so thanks for letting me know about that 🙂

    • Yes, you can definitely go ahead and make it with regular white vinegar. You need some type of vinegar because you need the acid in the vinegar to react with the baking soda to make it rise, but any vinegar should work fine. Apple cider vinegar just happens to be my favorite for this recipe, so that’s why I use it.

  8. What a surprise to find our “family” recipe here. Well almost. We never have tried it with the coffee. But seems like the same recipe otherwise. It has been a family favorite for years. 4th generation now I think. I will be trying your version next time and the chocolate icing too.

    • That’s pretty neat that your family has been making this for so long! I bet this sort of cake was probably a favorite recipe for lots of families in past generations.

  9. Hi I live in the UK and I’m unsure whether to use plain flour or self raising flour as we can’t get “spelt” or “all-purpose” over here.. I normally use self raising for cakes but I’m worried the cake will come out spongy and fluffy rather than fudge like.. should I go with plain flour? thanks! 🙂

    • I would probably go with the plain flour because the extra rising agents in the self-rising flour might throw off the texture. I’m guessing that what you call plain flour in the UK is probably about the equivalent to what’s called all-purpose in the USA, or at least similar enough. 🙂

        • Well, according to the measurement converter I found on Google 1 cup = 236.58 milliliters, so I’m guessing you could round that up to 237 or maybe round down to 235 to make it more of an even number? I’ve never worked with milliliters before, so your guess is probably as good as mine 🙂

  10. Hi, I notice the link to your cane sugar pointed back to an Amazon product link of organic dark brown sugar… so did you use dark brown sugar or just normal white sugar?

    • Sorry about that! I must have made a mistake and put in the wrong link. The kind of sugar I used for this recipe is a whole cane sugar that is less refined than regular white sugar is, but it’s not nearly as dark as a dark brown sugar would be. Regular white sugar would also work fine for this recipe. I’ve updated the link in the post above, and I’ll also add it here: Thanks for catching my mistake so I could fix it! 🙂

  11. I have read all the reviews including, “It is a different density then a typical box cake”. What is the density of this chocolate cake?

    • I’d say it’s a medium density. It’s not really a light and fluffy, airy sort of cake, but it’s not a super heavy dense one either, so it’s in the middle between the two.

    • It’s been my go to cake for the past several years now 🙂 And now I’m really in the mood to make it again, lol!

  12. I always wanted to try this recipe which Ive had in my files for many years. I followed your recipe closely. Is it supposed to be so dense? I’m a bit disappointed and the taste is so so. I will frost before making a final decision. Otherwise I will chalk it up to a heritage cooking experience and stick to my tried and true go to chocolate cake recipe! lol Thank you for sharing.

    • It usually comes out a little on the denser side when I make it, but it’s should be more of a rich, fudgy sort of dense rather than a dry sort of dense. It’s not as light and fluffy as a store bought cake or one you might make from a packaged mix, but if it rises properly then it shouldn’t be overly dense. And everyone’s particular tastes vary a lot too, of course. I happen to really like the flavor and texture, but then again I like older recipes and I’m used to the slightly different textures and flavors. It’s always good to have a heritage cooking experience, though, anyways 🙂

      • If the depression era cake is made without all your over the top “healthy alterations” it would not come out dense. Seriously, why on earth would you take a recipe made by so many, including my grandmothers, mother, and myself during the war years, the problem with food shortages post war years, and the lack of a decent income when raising children, and basically destroy it on your website. Depression era cake was at the time, as it still is today, a rare treat. A once in a while treat that does not require expensive alternative “healthy” ingredients before being enjoyed. How you fail to grasp that fact is beyond astounding.

        • We clearly have a difference of opinion when it comes to adapting old recipes, and I can understand how you might feel that making any changes to an older recipe would seem like ruining it. That being said, however, I chose to adapt this recipe using ingredients that many modern bakers have in their kitchens and like to use in their baking. Most of the people visiting my website would much rather use coconut oil than another vegetable oil like canola or soybean oil. But of course anyone who makes this recipe is free to use whatever oil they like. Other than that I’m really not sure what alternative, over the top ingredients you’re referring to. The addition of coffee and ginger are completely optional, as I stated in the recipe, and all the other ingredients are just basic ingredients like flour, sugar, vinegar and baking soda. I’ve given options and suggestions for those who may want to use them, but as with all recipse the final choice is completely up to the individual baker.

        • Jocelyn, you are obviously a troll. Get a life! She isn’t trying to reenact history. She was sharing her version of a cake.

          Lori, I was hoping to see in the comments that someone tried the soaking method. If I attempt it, I will update you. Thank you for this post.

    • The original recipe calls for vegetable oil, so any type of vegetable oil should be ok. I prefer using coconut oil, but whatever cooking oil you usually like to use should work fine(although oils with stronger flavors might have a slight effect on the overall taste of the cake, so that’s something to keep in mind.)

  13. My daughter is allergic to dairy so I was very excited to be able to make her a chocolate cake without dairy for her birthday! Does the coconut oil have to be completely hardened (a solid state) again or just chilled/cooled off (still liquid)? If that makes sense?

    • Just chilled and cooled off (and still liquid). I usually melt mine to a liquid state because it’s so much easier to mix in with the rest of the ingredients, but I let it cool off a bit first. In the summertime, I sometimes don’t even have to melt it because it’s so warm in my kitchen that it’s already in a liquid state.

  14. i love your recipe and its already listed in my favourites.
    Now i want to attempt an simple white bread recipe with this same cake recipe of your and would need your help.

    3 cups flour (Either spelt or unbleached all-purpose or a combination of both)
    1 tsp sea salt (you can find my favorite salt here)
    2 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
    12 Tbs. coconut oil, melted and cooled
    2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    2 cups room temperature water
    2 Tbs apple cider vinegar

    I eliminated sugar,cocoa,coffee from your recipe.
    Do you feel if i go with above list, i would be able to make an good white bread?
    Please help!

    Your fan follower:)

  15. My son requested a chocolate cake for his birthday and this cake sounds delicious I can’t wait to try it! I was going to try it with sprouted spelt flour and I was Wondering if I can sub the sugar with coconut sugar or maple sugar what do you suggest?

    • I’ve never personally tried substituting coconut or maple sugar in this recipe, but from everything I’ve read, it sounds like you could substitute either one in a 1:1 ratio for regular sugar, so I would think either one should work ok in this recipe. Since the main flavor is the chocolate, you probably won’t hardly even taste the difference in sugar at all, so I would personally probably go with whichever sugar is the cheaper one. Also, I haven’t tried using sprouted spelt for this particular recipe, but I know that in the past when I’ve tried baking with spelt it doesn’t always rise as well as regular wheat does since the gluten structures are a little bit different. It might work ok, but it’s also possible that the cake might not rise as high or might even sink in the middle a little bit. If the taste matters more to you and your son than the way it looks, then spelt should be fine, but if you want a picture-perfect cake, then using all spelt in the recipe might be a bit of a gamble. Also, if your spelt is whole grain, you might want to increase the amount of water in the recipe by just a little (like maybe a spoonful or two). I hope the cake ends up turning out well for you!

  16. Hi there! First of all, thank you for posting this! There are man food allergies in our house and this is the only good cake recipe I could find that fit our requirements. 🙂

    Question: the coconut oil for th is frosting, should that be melted and cooled too, or do I put it in “solid”?

    • I’m really glad to hear that the recipe works with your family’s food allergies, and I hope it turns out well for you! 🙂 If you’re using a mixer, then you should be fine with using the coconut oil solid, but if you were trying to mix it by hand then it would be a lot easier to work with if it was at least warmed enough to soften it a little. It doesn’t need to be fully melted, though.

  17. Bit belated, but just seen this….yes, all-purpose is the same as plain flour in the UK. Spelt flour is easily available in the UK. If making gluten free it would be probably worth grating a little courgette into the mixture to compensate. Thanks for the recipe and for not loading with maple syrup which costs the earth in the uk 🙂

    • I’ve never tried making this cake with any gluten free flours, so I wouldn’t be able to say from experience whether or not it would work. You could certainly give it a try, but I can’t guarantee that the cake would taste the same or have the same consistency.

    • No, it’s not a typo. The amount you need is twelve tablespoons (which is 3/4 cup.) It sounds like a lot, I know, but that’s the amount you need.

  18. I’ve made this cake a number of times and it is a great option when I need an easy and margarine-less dairy free cake. Definitely recommended!!!

  19. Is this a good cake to use in decorative pans? Like ones shaped like teddy bears, etc, for a kids birthday? I’m hoping to find a dairy free or vegan cake that I can use in cake molds for my kid’s theme birthday parties.

    • I’m sorry, but I’ve never actually tried using this recipe in a decorative pan before, so I really couldn’t say for sure whether it would work. It does ok in a regular round cake tin, but I just don’t know how it would do in in a decorative one.

  20. I just made this cake and something didn’t come out right, the batter was very wet and now the cake is doughy in the center and firm on the outside. It is eatable but I would not serve it to anyone. Not sure what I missed?

    • I’m really sorry to hear that the cake didn’t turn out well for you 🙁 The batter does tend to be on the wetter side when I make it, but I haven’t had it turn out doughy in the center like that. The only thing I can think of is that maybe it wasn’t fully baked through and needed a little bit more time in the oven? It’s possible that your oven is different than mine is or that you live at a different altitude and the cake needed a longer baking time than it did for me.

  21. Can i use this same recipe for a simple vanilla cake eliminating use of coco powder and coffee from this recipe?
    Please help as i am in search of a perfect vanilla cake

    • I’ve never tried making this as a vanilla cake recipe, so I wouldn’t be able to say for certain whether or not it would work. If you wanted to try it, you would need to add enough extra flour to make up for leaving out the cocoa powder or else the batter would end up being too wet. You could certainly leave out the coffee without any problems because that is just for extra flavor and it wouldn’t effect the consistency of the cake. So, if you added a few spoonfuls of extra flour and you don’t mind experimenting a bit, then it might work as a vanilla cake, but I just couldn’t guarantee that it would work since I haven’t made it that way.

  22. Posting for the sugar-free folks out there. My roommate gave me the heads up on this chocolate cake recipe while I was planning a vegan sugar-free dinner. I swapped out the 2c. sugar for an equal amount of date paste, and used 1.5 cups water instead of 2. All I had on hand was baking powder (instead of soda), so I just used all BP. Everything else was the same. I made a bundt cake, which I baked for 40ish mins. Instead of the frosting here – I used a dark choc avocado frosting, again swapping out maple syrup for date paste, thinning with almond milk as needed. Everyone loved it, and I managed to snag a slice. I will be doing this again!

    • I should further mention that if someone wants to use BP instead of soda, I tripled the amount, and used 6t. BP in place of the 2t. soda. (The texture probably wouldn’t be the same with a 1:1 sub).

    • I’ve never tried this recipe using those substitutions, so I couldn’t say from personal experience whether or not it would work. I know that working with coconut flour changes the amount of liquid needed for the recipe, though, so if you decided to try it, you might need to experiment a bit to see how much liquid you would need. If you don’t mind experimenting, then substituting might work, but if you’re looking for something that will turn out perfectly the first time around, then you might be better off sticking with recipes designed for being used with coconut flour and sugar.

    • I’m sorry, but this cake recipe isn’t designed for being baked in a microwave, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to bake it that way.

  23. Wow this cake looks and sounds amazing and yummy have you tryed making the frosting with coconut oil how does it come out

    • I’ve only tried in once before in the wintertime and it came out ok, but I usually prefer using butter because it tends to work better in warmer weather than the coconut oil does. If you wanted to try using coconut oil in the summertime (or anytime when then weather is warm enough for the coconut oil to be melty rather than solid) you might want to try putting the amount of coconut oil you would be using in the fridge for a little while to let it solidify some. And I’m not sure how well the frosting would hold up if you wanted to eat the cake over a period of a few days. If you were planning on eating it up pretty quickly then it would probably be fine, but the coconut oil will probably start to get melty again as it warms up and the frosting might get runny.

    • I’ve never made this cake as only half the recipe before, but it should turn out the same as if you made it with the whole recipe. You would just need to bake it on one pan instead of two and you would end up with a one-layer cake rather than a two-layer cake.

  24. Great recipe! I live at 4,600 ft and this recipe worked out great for me. I did make some slight alterations. I used 2 cups +1tbsp of coffee when I bake chocolate cake I usually always use coffee as my main liquid does “enhance” the chocolate flavor. I had to bake it about 5mins longer. I didn’t make any alterations to the baking soda but I may use less next time, maybe 1 1/2tsp. Other then that everything else was used as stated. An overall great recipe glad I came across it. Thank You!

    • I’m so glad to hear that the recipe turned out well for you! And it’s good to know that it will still work at 4,600 feet, too. The next time I make this I’ll have to try using all coffee for the main liquid. Good idea! 🙂

  25. What would be a good alternative to subbing out to coconut oil and ghee in the frosting recipe? My son is allergic to both. I was thinking palm shortening? Would the measurements be 1:1?

    • I’ve never tried using palm shortening as a substitute so I can’t say from personal experience, but I think that would probably work. And, yes, I think a 1:1 ratio should be fine.

  26. This recipe sounds great & I’m planning on making it today but I have a question about the butter for the frosting. Is it supposed to be softened or cold or melted. Thanks!

    • I would recommend softening it a bit just to make it easier to work with. If you were going to mix the frosting by hand, then it would be easiest if if were quite soft or even melted, but if you’re using a mixer then you don’t have to worry about softening it very much.

  27. Wow!! IT’s really nice chocolate cake. You really did an awesome work. As you have shared the best things for me. Even this recipes can be made in busy time also.

  28. I’m so happy to try your recipe. I have just placed the batter in the oven and I’m so excited to see the results. I have been asked to make a chocolate vegan cake for a wedding. I will let you know how it turns out.

  29. I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday yesterday, Everyone absolutely loved it. I am so pleased to have found this recipe. I was a bit worried about making a cake from scratch it usually turns out heavy and dry. This cake was so moist and the frosting was chocolate perfection. I really do suggest using a hand mixer when mixing the frosting.
    I did tweak it a little i substituted sunsweet lighter bake oil replacement puree for most of the coconut oil, and I added a little coffee to the frosting. Over all This is a 5 STAR recipe and I will be making it again. Thanks for posting it.

    • I’m so glad to hear that the recipe turned out well for you! Thank you so much for letting me know! I definitely agree that using some sort of mixer makes the frosting much easier to make, and that’s a great idea to add a little coffee to the frosting, too. I’ll have to try that the next time I make this 🙂

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  31. I made this last night for a dinner party and it was a success! Subbed out the water in the frosting with the coffee that I made for the cake batter, gave it great flavor. Definitely a do over.

    • I’m so glad to hear that the cake was a success for you! And that’s a great idea to add some of the coffee to the frosting too!

  32. I made this cake today: it is AMAZING! Possibly the best chocolate cake ever! The little bit of ginger gives it just that extra little something. Yum!

  33. Hello! I wanted to thank you for this great recipe! I made it for my mom (who just discovered she’s allergic to eggs and dairy, so this was great for her!) I did make just a few changes and posted my own version of this recipe on my new blog at the link below. I am linking back to this original recipe as well! Thank you for this (and if you wouldn’t mind taking a gander at my altered recipe and letting me know what you thought, I would really appreciate it!)

    • I’m glad to hear that this recipe worked well for your mom without the eggs and dairy 🙂 I think your version of the recipe looks great! Sometime I’ll have to try using coffee in the frosting too 🙂

  34. So this cake recipe turned out amazing! I did alter it a bit. Instead of water I used soymilk and I substituted lemon juice fir the vinegar. Also I didn’t have coconut oil so I used avocado oil butter and a bit of safflower oil. In the dry part I added 1 tablespoon of ground flax which works like an egg. I do a lot of vegan baking and have experimented a lit with cakes. This by far is the best chocolate cake I’ve made. Also I made the frosting using 1 avocado because I didn’t have enough shortening or butter. I used about a cup if shortening and butter half and half and one whole avocado cocoa powder and powdered sugar to taste. It was so yummy! Great pair with the rich cake.

    • I’m really glad to hear that it turned out well for you! That’s great that your substitutions worked so well, and reading about the ingredients that you used may help other people who want to make this recipe but don’t have all the ingredients on hand to have more success with it.

    • As long as you keep it covered, it keeps for several days. When I make it, it’s usually the best for the first three days and then on the fourth and fifth days it’s still good but sometimes the frosting starts kind of “melting” into the cake at bit (for lack of a better word) and makes the part of the cake near the frosting a bit soggy sometimes. I’ve never eaten any past the fifth day because it’s usually all gone by then (if not sooner) so I’m not sure how it would be past that point. Probably still edible but progressively soggier, especially in the summer. It tends to keep a bit longer in the cooler months than in the warmer months.

  35. I would like to make this cake in advance for an upcoming party. Does this cake retain it’s freshness if frozen and then thawed? I will likely decorate it with buttercream icing before it’s frozen, if freezing is an option.

    • Hi Lari, I apologize for the late reply. I was taking an online break this weekend to unplug and hadn’t checked blog comments until today. I’ve never tried freezing this cake before, so I’m not really sure how it would turn out. And since I don’t know from experience, I can’t guarantee that it would stay as fresh after being in the freezer for a couple of weeks. You might want to see if you can find a recipe that has already been tested for freezing well just to be on the safe side for your event.

  36. I tested this recipe last night, cutting the ingredients to 1/3, using gluten-free flour [Pamela‘s artisan brand] and baking in a 6” pan. The result was a rubbery cake that took a long time to bake; the oven setting was 325 Fahrenheit on convection. I whiskedthe the ingredients by hand in a metal bowl. The elevation here in Calgary is about 3200 feet. I’d appreciate if you can offer any thoughts as to what the issue might be. Thanks.

    • From what you described, the main issue I can see would be the gluten-free flour. This cake recipe isn’t really designed to be used with gluten-free flour, and it would need some tweaking to still turn out well without the gluten. I’m not a gluten-free baker, so I’ve never tested this recipe with gluten-free flours before. If you want to avoid gluten, you might be better off finding a cake recipe that is specifically designed to be used with gluten-free flours.

  37. My mom gave me this recipe she made for me as a child that was handed down to her. We always called it WACKY CAKE because it lacked the usual eggs & dairy. It’s so fast & easy, cheap and delicious!

  38. Hi! What a beautiful cake and simple recipe! I’m wondering if anyone has used this recipe in higher elevations. I’ve been a vegan for 3 years and have adapted some of my recipes for baking fairly well. But when I moved Colorado last year, it seems my baking recipes don’t rise as well. I would appreciate anyone’s input about vegan/high altitude baking as it pertains to this cake or any others!

    • I don’t live at a high elevation, so I’m afraid I don’t have any experience or tips to offer as far as high altitude baking is concerned, but hopefully some others who have tried this recipe at a higher elevation will be able to chime in to offer some help!

  39. Made this cake and it’s seriously the best ever!!!! Love having an option that is vegan for my family, and also delicious. We all gobbled it up. Looking forward to making it again soon. Thanks so much!

    • White vinegar should be fine to substitute, and you can use the same quantity of it. Brown sugar should be fine too, and you can use the same amount, but I would spoon it loosely into the measuring cup rather than packing it tightly like you usually do with brown sugar. I would also add slightly less water since the brown sugar has a bit more moisture in it than regular sugar does. (So when you’re filling your measuring cup with the water I would fill it close to the top but not quite all the way full.)

    • I’m sorry, but I don’t think gluten free flour would work very well for this recipe. I’ve never tried it personally since I’m not a gluten-free baker, but I’ve found that if I use a flour with a lower protein and gluten content like spelt or einkorn that the cake doesn’t rise well as when I use regular all-purpose flour and it tends to sink in the middle more. So, if you were to try it with gluten free flour, the cake would probably turn out quite dense, and I don’t think it would have the structure to hold up as a layer cake. If you wanted to experiment (and didn’t care about how it looked) you could maybe try it out as a sheet cake instead of as a layer cake.

  40. Hi! I am doing a school project on the changes in cake over time. I was wondering how accurate this recipe is to the Great Depression. Also, what oil do you think I should use to make it the most accurate. Thanks!!

    • That sounds like a fun project! Unfortunately, I can’t trace this particular recipe to a specific cookbook from that era, so I can’t say for sure that it’s truly authentic to the period. It’s word-of-mouth accurate in that the original recipe came from someone who says the recipe is one they remember their mother making during that period, but I don’t have any way of actually proving it. One good resource that you might want to check out, though, is This is the page that talks about cakes specifically and depression era (also called wacky cake or crazy cake) and if you scroll all the way down near the bottom of the page there is a good description of the cake with some old recipes too:

      It’s interesting to note that the 1930s recipes that they give here actually includes butter, milk, and eggs, while the 1949 recipe that they list is much closer to this recipe with the vinegar, water, and shortening (or oil). So different people may have had different recipes called wacky cake or crazy cake that used different ingredients. And it’s even possible that people who couldn’t afford to use the ingredients listed in those old recipes might have improvised, and that could be why there are different variations. And as far as the types of oil they might have used I know that vegetable oils were becoming much more popular during that time, so any store bought vegetable oil would be accurate enough. (Coconut oil wouldn’t be as accurate, though. That’s just what I use because it’s the oil I prefer. So the most accurate would be a vegetable oil made from cottonseeds or soybeans or something similar.)

      And if you need any authentic old recipes from other periods in history, this is another good resource too. It’s called the Historic American Cookbook Project, and they have digital copies of old cookbooks that you can look at to find accurate old recipes. Here’s the link to that page:

      I hope your project goes well!

    • I’ve never tried freezing it before, so I can’t really say from personal experience. I would think, though, that freezing it might change the texture and consistency and possibly dry it out. So I probably wouldn’t recommend freezing it unless you really need to.

    • I’m not sure if that would work. For this recipe, the apple cider vinegar reacts with the baking soda to help the cake rise, and I’m not sure that the flax eggs would have the same effect. I’ve never cooked with flax eggs before, so I don’t have any personal experience with them, but it would come down to whether or not flax eggs actually help baked goods rise or if they are more of a “glue” to help bind ingredients together. If you don’t mind experimenting, you could certainly give it a try (and the cake would still taste fine), but there’s a chance that you might end up with a flat and very dense cake texture.

  41. I did this cake and it was a big hit with all my friends. I used coconut oil, half regular sugar half cane sugar, and regular vinegar as I was too lazy to go to the store to buy something else. That was perfect, moist, flavorful. I’m doing it again this week but I don’t have much coconut oil left. I hope vegetable oil will give the same result!

    • I’m glad to hear the cake was a hit with your friends! Vegetable oil should work fine for it. I just like using coconut oil personally, but vegetable oil should work too. (And I’m the same way about being too lazy to go to the store to get ingredients! I would have done the same thing if I hadn’t had the ACV at home because the regular vinegar will work just as well too.)

  42. bonjour,
    j’aimerais réaliser ce beau gateau au chocolat mais pouvez vous m’indiquer les quantités en poids.

    je vous remercie.

    • Hello, I used an online translator to interpret your comment, and it sounds like you are wanting to know the quantities by weight, if that translation is correct? I’m sorry, but since I’m an American baker that uses volume measurements I don’t know what the weights would be for these ingredients. You could possibly try some online conversion charts to get an approximate weight for the volume measurements. I’m sorry that I can’t be more helpful.

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