Old-Fashioned Wacky Cake Recipe

Ever stumble across a recipe that makes you wonder how the dish earned its nickname? Take, for example, the chocolate-caramel Better Than Sex cake. Who on Earth created that name? Admittedly, it is quite the decadent cake. The same holds true for Wacky Cake, a cake that may not necessarily be described as beautiful, but definitely tastes delicious. Its name stems from the craziness of this cake's ingredients. Made from a pretty simple lineup of items, it's impressive that it doesn't require any eggs. In fact, this recipe can be traced back to a cookbook from the 1960's pieced together by Peg Bracken called I Hate to Cookbook, except it was called the Cockeyed Cake. And in 1958, Wacky Cake was referred to in a newspaper article (via Quaint Cooking).

This dessert also goes by the names Crazy Cake, Depression Cake, and Wonder Cake. But, one things stays the same regardless of what you call it — it's hands-down scrumptious. Check out this decadent recipe that was developed by registered dietician Kristen Carli.

Gather up the ingredients for Wacky Cake

This cake earned its name from both the way the ingredients are mixed together in the very pan the cake will be baked in, as well as the fact that it doesn't require eggs, milk, or butter, as noted by Carli. Once the dry ingredients — sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, and unsweetened cocoa powder — are blended together, you poke three holes in the ingredients and fill each hole with vanilla, vinegar, and oil. It may sound incredibly odd to use the ingredients in such a manner, but the result is an exceptionally moist cake. Even better is that it takes only ten minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake with 12 servings to share or enjoy all by yourself.

It may sound odd to not need eggs to make this cake recipe, but it's true. It's perfect for people with egg allergies, or maybe you're short on eggs and don't want to run out to the store. Some recipes call for subbing megamenu bananas or applesauce for the eggs, but seriously, is it possible to make a cake without eggs? The vinegar and baking soda pair together perfectly within the mix to make sure the cake leavens. It may sound weird, but it really does work. Another possible leavening option includes silken tofu. But, for now, give the vinegar and baking soda combo a try in this recipe. You'll absolutely love the results!

Wacky Cake only requires one pan for both mixing and baking

Another perk to this recipe is you don't need a bowl for the dry ingredients and another for the wet ingredients. All you need is an 8x8-inch cake pan that you'll prepare everything in. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, pour 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder into the pan. Gently whisk the ingredients to blend them together right there in the pan. Be sure that the dry ingredients are distributed as evenly as possible within the pan and that they don't come out of the container while sifting them together.

Fill up the wells

Using a spoon or spatula, gently dig three wells within the dry ingredients that are spaced out across the cake pan. Into one well pour 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, then pour 6 tablespoons of canola oil into another well, followed by 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a third whole. Then, pour 1 cup of water across the dry ingredients. Stir gently with a spoon to combine all of the ingredients. Make sure that all of the dry ingredients have been thoroughly mixed with the wet ingredients. Pop the cake pan into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the cake to cool. Finally, sprinkle your Wacky Cake with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and enjoy.

This Wacky Cake can be altered to suit your preferences

Since the cake doesn't use eggs, butter, or milk, it can be considered a vegan food product, Carli notes. "It is so delicious and completely vegan. Great for your vegan friends!"

It definitely can be modified to become gluten-free as well. "I recommend Pamela's Products Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour," Carli says.

While any brand of white vinegar can be used, Carli explains that this particular ingredient helps balance out the flavors. You also could toss some milk or white chocolate chips into the top of the batter, and allow them to melt into the cake while baking. Another version of the recipe calls for poking more holes in the finished cake while fresh out of the oven and still hot, then pouring caramel sauce in the holes and allowing the deliciously sweet syrup to flow throughout the cake, giving it an extra sugary kick.

Wacky Cake's climb to popularity

This simple cake recipe was extremely popular in the 1940's, because it's so easy to make and bake everything in one pan (via Quaint Cooking). In addition, in 1941, as our country became embroiled in World War II, lots of typical cake ingredients such as eggs, sugar, butter, and milk were rationed while the war was going on and after it ended. The fact that this cake recipe doesn't require any of those ingredients made it incredibly appealing during that time period. The speediness of preparing and baking this cake has kept its appeal alive for decades after, too.

Old-Fashioned Wacky Cake Recipe
5 from 46 ratings
Wacky Cake doesn't require any eggs, milk, or butter, and it's downright delicious.
Prep Time
Cook Time
slices of Wacky Cake
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In an 8x8-inch cake pan, pour in the dry ingredients: 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. Whisk to combine right in the pan.
  3. Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into one well, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into another well, and 6 tablespoons of canola oil into the last well. Pour 1 cup of water in the baking dish.
  4. Stir to combine using a spoon. Be sure that all of the dry ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Calories per Serving 194
Total Fat 7.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 31.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Total Sugars 18.1 g
Sodium 149.2 mg
Protein 2.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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