Chocolate Wacky Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This chocolate wacky cake is a great, simple cake for when eggs, butter, and dairy products are hard to come by. And, most of all, it's delicious!

Peeps, this is my chocolate wacky cake with chocolate frosting and it is basically what all your chocolate dreams are made of (and mine). It is easy peasy and calls for pantry ingredients and no butter, eggs, or dairy — yup, you heard that right. And, yes, you’re welcome. This cake is vegan (if you do not make the frosting) and DELICIOUS. It is the perfect cake for these tricky (dare I say “wacky”) times in which, as I write this, we are living, when it is hard to find staples in the grocery store — particularly those staples necessary for baking . . .

Chocolate Wacky Cake | Jessie Sheehan Bakes

I first learned about “wacky” cakes years ago when visiting my brother-in law. His wife, my sister-in-law, suggested I make the cake with my niece, their daughter and I acquiesced. I mean the cake could not have been easier. It required you make three little wells in your bowl of dry ingredients and fill one with vinegar, one with water and one with oil. A fork was all that was needed to mix everything together, and the resulting cake was fudgy, moist and ultra chocolate-y. And all this flavor and texture without any butter or eggs or dairy. Wacky, right?

Chocolate Wacky Cake | Jessie Sheehan Bakes

The story goes that the original wacky cake had another name — “depression” cake — and that it first rose to popularity during the Great Depression when ingredients like butter, eggs and milk were scarce. And long story short, because those ingredients are scarce again now, the wacky/depression cake seems like an excellent cake to share with you all during these, dare I say, wacky times . . .

Chocolate Wacky Cake | Jessie Sheehan Bakes

In short, I hope you make this cake when the need for chocolate and/or cake hits. (For me that is kind of 24/7, but maybe you show more restraint than me). And lucky for you, from the moment the craving hits, to the moment you are taking your first bite is literally less than 45 minutes. You’re welcome. The frosting adds on a bit of time, as you need to let the cake cool (and if you don’t frost it you can eat it warm — you’re welcome again) and it DOES call for butter and dairy, so if those ingredients are hard to find for you, please, make the cake without frosting! You won’t miss it, I promise ( the cake is just that good . . . ). Finally, the recipe makes for COPIOUS amounts of frosting, and if generously frosted cakes are not your jam, you may halve the frosting recipe (and I promise to still be your friend, even though frosting is my everything . . . ).

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Chocolate Wacky Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This chocolate wacky cake is a great, simple cake for when eggs, butter, and dairy products are hard to come by. And, most of all, it's delicious!
Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan


  • Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 tsp pure-vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Chocolate Frosting:
  • 14 Tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • Rainbow sprinkles for decorating optional, but highly encouraged


  • To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda and salt.
  • Add the water, vanilla, vinegar and oil and whisk until fully incorporated and smooth.
  • Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a moist crumb or two.
  • Make the frosting while the cake cools.
  • To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat the butter on medium speed until soft and smooth.
  • Whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium-sized bowl and add a cup at a time to the butter, mixing to combine on low, and alternating with the cream.
  • Add the salt and vanilla and mix for about 5 minutes on medium until smooth, fluffy and spreadable, adding cream, a tablespoon at a time, if necessary.
  • Generously frost the cake, decorate with rainbow sprinkles, if using, and serve.

I’ve got plenty more cake recipes where this came from!

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