Crazy Cake (vegan chocolate cake)

[Note from Serene: I’m so glad Carin is sharing this cake with us. I make it now and again because it’s easy and vegan, but I didn’t grow up with it. It does make me want to dig out a few of my mom’s recession-friendly recipes, though. Times are tough all over.]

Dessert wasn’t an everyday occurrence when I was growing up.  We were poor, and while Mom made sure there was enough to eat, there wasn’t always room in the budget for extras.  Special occasions warranted special foods, of course, but every once in a while Mom would put together a treat just because.  If it was something that could be made cheaply it was likely to make more than one appearance in our home.

Crazy Cake (aka Wacky Cake and Depression Cake) was one such treat.  Requiring no eggs, butter, or milk, it relies on a chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar for leavening.  “Vinegar!?!?” I hear you exclaim.  Yes, vinegar, but you won’t taste it at all in the finished cake.  All you will taste is a lovely rich chocolate cake.

cake and milk

Traditionally, Crazy Cake is mixed by hand right in the baking pan, reducing the number of dishes to be washed afterward.  The dry ingredients are sifted together, then the wet ingredients are poured into depressions made in the dry stuff.

sifter, measuring cups, pansifting flouringredientsbatter

Like many folks these days, I’m poor again, and living with Dad.  The silver lining (aside from spending time with Dad) is that I get to use the very measuring cups, sifter, and 9” x 13” baking pan with which Mom made this cake when I was growing up.  They’re old and beaten up, not pretty at all.  In other words, they’re perfect!

mom's pan

There are dozens of recipes online for Crazy, Wacky, or Depression Cake.  Some of them include coffee, stewed raisins, or other fruit, but none of that went into Mom’s Crazy Cake.   If you want to try the recipe I use, you can find it here.  Taste the cake without frosting, first.  You may decide it doesn’t need any.  A dusting of powdered sugar is a nice optional finish.


Another nice thing is that the cake is vegan if you use beet sugar.  Your non-vegan friends won’t know the difference, and your vegan friends will thank you for your thoughtfulness.

cake slice

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9 thoughts on “Crazy Cake (vegan chocolate cake)”

  1. My organic-vegan 16-year-old made one of these cakes (and also a carrot cake) for his birthday party this year — I’d seen various references to “depression cake” over the years but had never tried it, so I was amazed at how good and moist it was! He also added a little peppermint extract.

    1. I was surprised, too, at how well it turned out. (I heard about it a few years ago on and it became my go-to vegan dessert for a while, until I found the Vegetarian Times boiled spice cake.)

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