Chocolate Crazy Cake

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Chocolate Crazy Cake is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make. Like my beloved Cinnamon Toast Cake, this is an egg-free cake, but the Crazy Cake also requires no dairy.

This makes it the perfect dessert to make on a whim with little more than a handful of things from the pantry.

A piece of cake sitting on top of a suitcaseI’m willing to bet that if you could peek inside your grandmother’s recipe box, you might find this recipe. Also called a Wacky Cake, Depression Cake or War Cake, this Chocolate Crazy Cake is a simple chocolate cake that requires no dairy and no eggs.

The Crazy Cake was created during World War I when ingredients were difficult to find and purchase. Dessert was a luxury during those times and this cake helped make it possible to enjoy an occasional sweet treat.

Dairy Free Crazy Cake

The basic recipe for this Chocolate Crazy Cake is simple as can be with just a handful of ingredients. It’s terrific with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top.

To make it a little fancier, I chose to frost the cake with my favorite Fluffy Chocolate Frosting. If you need a dairy free frosting or a vegan cake, this Rich Chocolate Vegan Frosting or this Vegan Maple Cream Frosting would be perfect for that. 

Tips For Making Crazy Cake

While it might sound silly to follow these directions exactly, trust me here. It’s easy as can be and the clean up is a breeze. Grease the pan, add the dry ingredients and make wells in the flour for the wet ingredients.

Pour water over the top and stir or whisk well with a fork until the wet and dry ingredients are well incorporated.

I’ve been making this cake for more years than I can remember and I’ve always made it as written. As I was making this cake to photograph and share with you, I wanted to add a note to the recipe that says, feel free to just mix the cake batter in a bowl if that’s your preference.

HOWEVER, I tried that twice and the cake turned out lopsided. How is that even possible? I can’t figure out if that’s a weird fluke or actual food science, but I recommend that you make it as written.

How To Make A Crazy Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Gluten Free Crazy Cake

I’ve said more than once that “good enough for gluten free” simply doesn’t cut it here. I test most gluten free baked goods side by side with their traditional counterparts and the gluten free variations I tried for the crazy cake recipe were simply not the same.

I will continue to work on this one and will update here if I find a substitute truly on par with the original. If you must have a gluten free crazy cake recipe today, I’ve included the best adaptation I’ve found so far in the recipe notes.

The gluten free crazy cake is tasty, but there is something slightly different and it isn’t a perfect match for the original.

For a gluten free chocolate cake that you’ll still be dreaming about the next day, I highly recommend The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cake and The Best Gluten Free White Cake.

A piece of chocolate cake on a plate, with Depression cake and Wacky cake

Kitchen Tip: I use this baking pan to make this recipe.

Crazy Cake Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. In the greased pan, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk lightly with a fork or small whisk to combine.
  2. Make two small wells and 1 large well in the dry ingredients (as pictured) and add the vinegar, vanilla, and oil to the wells. Pour the water over the top and whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Sprinkle the cool cake with powdered sugar or top with your favorite frosting.

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Crazy Cake - no dairy and no eggs required!

Chocolate Crazy Cake

4.96 from 23 votes
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Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour *
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup light flavored olive oil or the alternate oil of your choice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 recipe Fluffy Chocolate Frosting (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. In the greased pan, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk lightly with a fork or small whisk to combine. 
  • Make two small wells and 1 large well in the dry ingredients (as pictured) and add the vinegar, vanilla, and oil to the wells. Pour the water over the top and whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Sprinkle the cool cake with powdered sugar or top with your favorite frosting. Enjoy!

Notes

* Gluten Free Alternative: 1 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca starch, and 1/4 cup potato starch, plus an additional 2 tbsps oil

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcal · Carbohydrates: 30g · Protein: 2g · Fat: 6g · Saturated Fat: 1g · Sodium: 203mg · Potassium: 53mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 16g · Calcium: 5mg · Iron: 1.1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. sHEILA says

    I’ve been making this cake all my life! It was my mother’s recipe and she called it “Poor Mans Cake” because eggs were in short supply during WWII. The only difference is that her cake has 1Tbsp. of vinegar instead of a teaspoon. I’ve tried it both ways and I have better luck with a tablespoon. The cake is moister. This is the only chocolate cake recipe you will ever need> You can double the recipe and make a 9″ LAYER CAKE.5 stars

    • Mary says

      That’s a terrific tip. I’m going to try it with a tablespoon next time and see if I like that even better!

  2. Heidi says

    Great recipe to pull out at the last minute for quick desert. Have been baking this cake for just such occasions for about 50 years. Glad to see it appear. Hope the younger generation will also enjoy it.5 stars

  3. Joanne says

    This is a perfect little chocolate cake! I bake a crazy cake a few times each year, and they always come out great.5 stars

  4. Debra says

    I made this cake gluten free using Bob Mills gluten free 1 to 1 flour anfpd it turned out tender. My grand daughter is allergic to eggs and gluten , so this is the perfect chocolate cake.5 stars

  5. Sue says

    Looks so good…gonna make tday
    Pic shows 9 cuts..but reads that it serves 12?
    Can we cut icing recipe in half by ingredients to make less?5 stars

    • Mary says

      Yes, I’d recommend cutting the frosting recipe in half if you don’t want a very thick layer of frosting. I cut the cake into 9 pieces on the day I shot the photo, but they were honestly too big. We liked it better cut into 12 servings.

    • Mary says

      Any light flavored oil will work fine. I like to use olive oil, but be careful not to use an extra virgin oil.

    • Mary says

      See, I couldn’t imagine WHY it would’ve been turning out strange either! I just thought it was a bizarre fluke that mine was weird. Good to know it works perfectly for you.

  6. Robyn says

    THANK YOU for being so thorough and not adopting the usual “good enough” attitude that most people have towards Gluten Free baked goods. As someone who has had to make the switch to GF after 30 years of gluten-filled food – and being an avid baker myself – it’s so disappointing to see the low-quality results of some GF recipes…. there are some truly terrible ones out there!!
    Thanks for helping the GF community improve their recipes, instead of settling for the usual kinda-gross stuff that’s out there.!!

  7. Jen says

    I make this recipe for my family. They loved it!!! If i double this recipe and bake it in a 13 X 9 pan, how long should I bake it for?5 stars

    • Mary says

      I don’t have that exact time, but I’m guessing about 8-10 more minutes. I’d recommend testing for doneness at the time listed in the recipe and then adding time according to that test.

  8. Kathy Rohrbaugh says

    This is a very easy and moist cake that I have been making for years. My grandmother and mother made this also. Use a tbsp of vinegar instead of teaspoon. I use coffee instead of water. Double the recipe for a layer cake. Enjoy! It is a keeper.

  9. Peg says

    My mother, sisters, and I have been making this cake for 60+ yers! We never have greased the pan! I often make with dark cocoa. Try this for the BEST frosting: break plain Hershey bars over the cake immediately as it comes out of the oven! Allow to melt and spread as necessary. I use about 4 Hershey bars for the 8 inch pan. I often double the recipe and bake as a 9×13. I have also used mint patties for the frosting, again break over the hot cake and then spread as needed.

  10. Jen says

    I tried this cake today because I’d heard good things! I haven’t eaten it yet, but it did take 42 min to bake. At 35 it was completely wet in the center.
    It smells delicious!

    • Bridget says

      I’ve been making this recipe for almost 50 years and it has never take more than 35 minutes. What I learned by accident is not to substitute apple cider vinegar Or unpasteurized vinegar or it won’t rise. Great cake and lots of ways to frost it or not! Ice cream, whipped cream, mocha frosting, traditional chocolate or buttercream frosting or plain and it’s delicious!

  11. Therese Pollett says

    I currently cannot eat eggs or dairy and this cake was perfect! I’m pretty picky about sweets and this recipe was a keeper. (I did not use butter to grease the pan and it came out great still.) Thank you!5 stars

  12. Dee says

    This cake is so easy and delicious! I frosted it with dairy free chocolate mocha frosting. But, it is not completely dairy free if you use butter to grease your pan. I used cooking spray. This was a hit with my family!

  13. Christina Martinez says

    I’ve made this crazy cake several times always in pan. It comes out perfect and I make peanut butter frosting. Its delicious!!!5 stars

  14. Cathy houck says

    I just want to suggest replacing the GF flours with King Arthur’s baking mix. I have used in many recipes with great results!

  15. Paul Doucette says

    My family has been baking this cske since about 1945. We never grease the pan. My sister sent a letter to Hostess and got the recipe for the filling they use in the Devil dogs. We use that for the frosting. it is so delicious and keeps the cake moist.

  16. Carmen G says

    Thank you for this…with this coronavirus quarantine ingredients were sparse and we were craving desserts…this worked out in a pinch!4 stars

  17. Karen says

    Easiest cake I’ve made! On pan, one fork, 45 min. From start to finish! I have a convection oven so it only took 25 min to bake. Soft ,tender, fudgy, yum! Also great for my vegan friends!5 stars

  18. Janet says

    I am not a chocolate cake person, more of a vanilla gal. How would I adjust the recipe without the powdered cocoa?

    • Mary Younkin says

      I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen recipes for Vanilla Crazy Cake. It’s definitely worth doing a google search to see what you can find.

  19. Raquel says

    I have tried many different Vegan brownie recipes and this is by far the best!!! Everyone in my family loves it!!! I do too….I’m a chocoholic for sure. The only thing different I do with the recipe is that I do not add the oil and I use only a 1/2 teaspoon for the Baking Soda. And only 3/4 cup of organic cane sugar.5 stars

  20. Carol Loveless says

    I’ve made the cake a couple of times & I used a bowl to mix it. Added it to the greased pan and had no problem with it coming out lopsided. It’s a great cake! I will definitely be making it again & again.

  21. Sara says

    This cake is so good! I made it on a whim just to see what it would be like. I was completely surprised and delighted by the result. It might be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. It has a perfect chocolate taste, not overly sweet but sweet enough to enjoy without icing. I served it with powdered sugar on top and whipped cream on the side. We liked it even better the next day when it had been in the refrigerator overnight. I’ve sent the recipe to 3 people because it is that good and the way it comes together is so fun. It will be my go-to recipe for chocolate cake now.5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      To be honest, that is not my favorite mix, Questa. But, I haven’t tried it in years, so it’s possible it’s been updated. If you try it, let me know what you think.

  22. Deb says

    My mom made a version of this cake when I was growing up. We called it Looney cake. Her recipe makes a 9 By 13 size. Making it today for grandchildren.

  23. BSU says

    Absolutely love this cake – reminds me of childhood – but I have a question I can’t find answered anywhere. I see so many recipes for it with the same ingredients EXCEPT for the amount of vinegar to use. So many use only 1 teaspoon vinegar but quite a few use 1 Tablespoon – which is it supposed to be? And does it matter? Thoughts? Again, this is one of the best and easiest recipes for an incredibly simple and delicious cake I’ve made in years.5 stars

  24. marsha cohen says

    this cake and icing sound delicious and perfect to take for my granddaughter’s birthday – she will frost and decorate (our birthday tradition; we will be masked but together!) as part of her family only celebration this year of covid 19.

    can i make the cake and frosting one days ahead?

    • Mary Younkin says

      The cake will definitely work nicely a day ahead, Marsha. I don’t typically recommend making frosting ahead of time as it will need to be fully re-warmed to room temp in order to be spreadable and that just can’t be hurried. (and this time of year, if the house is cool, it might stay pretty firm.) However, it doesn’t take very long to mix it up, so I typically make it when ready to use it. I’d recommend mixing it up right before heading to the birthday party.

  25. Sandra Goodson says

    I’ve been making this cake for several years. If I’m lucky, it’ll make it to the frosting stage before the family attacks. LOL
    I’ve also used cold black coffee in place of the water…gave the cake a deeper chocolate flavor.5 stars

  26. Cami Lyn Parks says

    can you mix it all in a bowl then pout it in? Just asking. My G-Daughter is Dairy Free and I am going to make this with her!! Can’t wait to try it!

  27. Toni says

    been making this for years only in a big 13 by 9 pan. To lazy to half and found this. Yummy and small. Thank you5 stars

  28. Milk Man says

    Hello,
    I made an account just for this, so I made this cake once before and it was incredible but this time around I wanted to make a cake for my friend and he said that he likes vanilla cakes better, so I was wondering if you this recipe would work without the cocoa powder and if so would that make it a borderline vanilla cake? wanted to know because I’m not the best at making cakes but I know I can make this cake easily!!

    Thanks!
    -Milk Man

    • Mary Younkin says

      Yes! It does work. I should probably fine-tune that recipe and share it separately. I played with it a while back to see if I could do just that. I recommend upping the vanilla to 2 tsps for more flavor. Enjoy!