Wacky Cake


This old-school chocolate cake is still impressing everyone today.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
6 serves

Also known as depression cake, the batter for this quirky old-school chocolate cake is stirred together right in the baking pan (no mixing bowl required!), which is how it earned its name. The cake recipe also contains no eggs or milk, which is why it was a popular treat during lean times. Wacky Cake is delicious eaten on its own, especially with a cold glass of milk, but we added a layer of fudgy frosting and chopped toasted pecans to make it more decadent. Some testers in our Test Kitchen said it reminded them of a Texas Sheet Cake but much easier to pull off. Make sure to sift the dry ingredients right into the baking pan, don't just combine everything in the pan and stir it up. Sifting makes the cake light and tender. If you don't have a sifter, don't worry—you can use a fine-mesh strainer instead.


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • cup canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Wacky Cake Frosting

  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into an ungreased 8- x 8-inch baking pan; spread mixture evenly in pan. Make 1 large well and 2 small wells in mixture in pan. Carefully pour oil into the large well, vinegar into 1 small well, and vanilla into remaining small well. Pour 1 cup water evenly over entire mixture in pan. Stir everything together using a fork until combined.

  2. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.

  3. Pour Wacky Cake Frosting over warm cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

    Wacky Cake
    Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall


To freeze Wacky Cake, let the unfrosted cake cool completely in the pan. Remove from the pan, then wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. Place inside a ziplock freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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