Crazy Cake


Crazy Cake

Crazy Cake
30 Min

Put away the eggs, the milk, and the butter 'cause you won't need them to make this Depression-era recipe for Crazy Cake. The best part? The surprise you're gonna experience when you realize that this chocolate cake still tastes SO GOOD, even without those ingredients! This Crazy Cake recipe is the perfect way to save a little money and not sacrifice flavor. Here, in the Mr. Food Test Kitchen, we think that's something you just can't beat. 

What You'll Need

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 (16-ounce) container vanilla frosting
  • 1/2 (16-ounce) container chocolate frosting

What to Do

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt; mix well.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except frostings. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth, then pour into baking dish.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool.
  5. Spread vanilla frosting over top of cake. In a small microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate frosting 10 seconds, or until pourable, the drizzle over white frosting in a crazy pattern.

Check This Out!

  • We've got another delicious chocolate cake with a "missing ingredient." Click here to see what it is!
  • For more easy cake recipes, try Nonna's Cannoli Poke Cake, our Chocolate Custard Cake, or our Bee Sting Cake
  • Did You Know?: During the Great Depression, many families had a hard time coming by ingredients such as eggs, milk, and butter. Rather than giving up some of their favorite treats, like cake, folks began to experiment in their own kitchens, learning how to substitute ingredients or leaving them out altogether. It was during one of these experiments that the Crazy Cake (also commonly referred to as "Depression Cake" or "War Cake") was born. Fortunately, there's nothing depressing about this cake! Moist and chocolatey, many people still make it today (even when they do have eggs and milk in the fridge!).  

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This is the perfect cake recipe for people with egg allergies and such. It is also perfect for children under one, when you are told not to feed them eggs. It also is an inexpensive cake recipe since most of the ingredients are cheap and a lot of them you will already have on hand. And it has a good reviews so I am going to give it a try.

Thank you for sharing this with everyone. For those who've not heard of it or tired it, give it a try. Try to not overmix the batter that way it remains even more moist. A great cake in a pinch or any other time. Have made this one for decades have never needed to use frosting or glaze. It's great as is.

Could I make cupcakes with this instead of a cake?

Hello! You can make cupcakes with this (anywhere from 12-18 cupcakes). Make sure you fill your cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!

I found this cake disappointing. Dry and tasteless.

We made it tonight, out of curiosity. Two stars for looking and even smelling like chocolate cake (ours came out exactly like the photo), but it's very close to tasteless, and what little taste it does have isn't especially good. Like it or not, I think butter and milk really are the magic ingredients for chocolate cakes (and chocolate brownies. and pretty much chocolate everything else). Not oil and water. Also we don't understand the ingredient ratio in this recipe, 1/3 cup of cocoa might be enough to color 3 cups of flour, don't get your hopes up for much flavor. We can't detect any. We've had plenty of great hits from this site (thank you btw) but this one is a definite miss in our opinion.

My family has made this cake for many years because my mother is allergic to eggs and milk. With my generation, came the new challenge - I am deathly allergic to chocolate (dearly love it, but as I have gotten older, reactions are more and more severe). When I was a child, my mother discovered carob powder as a substitute for the cocoa. My daughter is presenting the newest challenge in that, at nearly 40, she has become gluten intolerant. We haven't tried to make it gluten-free yet, so don't know if any tweaking will be required, but I reckon we'll rise to the challenge.

I have been making this for years. My recipe has the same ingredients, but measurements vary from this recipe. Hubby and one daughter don't care for chocolate cake, but if they ask me to bake a cake, this is what they request. This is a very moist cake and I have never used frosting. I have "frosted" it with softened vanilla ice cream and this cake with vanilla ice cream is as good as it gets!

Excellent! Better than any brownie....moist, chewy, flavorful. I use "Frosting Queens" ready to spread frosting ewhich comes in a pouch. It is all butter with no chemicals, preservatives or artificial flavorings. It is in many supermarkets including Whole Foods. Delicious!

Crazy good.

Thank you!

Canned frosting, yuck.

Hi there! We use canned frosting in this recipe for anyone who needs a shortcut or doesn't have frosting ingredients on hand. However, we've got some great homemade frosting recipes on our site. If you'd like to top your cake with a homemade frosting, we recommend checking out our recipe for "Chocolate Buttercream Frosting." Enjoy!

I want to make this for a charity bake sale, can I freeze it (minus the frosting I presume)?

Hi there! Yes, you can freeze this without frosting it. Enjoy!

Great, thank you!

When I've made "wacky cake" recipes before, I was always instructed to poke holes in the dry ingredients, and add the vinegar in one, oil in another, etc. I always wondered if that instruction makes a difference or not, and I see that your instructions skip the holes. Does it make a difference?

Nope, it does not make a difference! Your cake will come out wonderful without having to poke holes. :) Enjoy!

Can I use less sugar without it making a difference?

Hi there! While the Test Kitchen has not tried it, we recommend that if you do plan on cutting back the amount of sugar in this recipe that you do not use any less than 1 cup of sugar. We would love to hear how this recipe turns out for you with this modification. Let us know :) Enjoy!

This cake is always a big hit when I make it everyone loves it. I love it because it's moist, easy and delicious!!!!!

ishannon, so sorry you had a bad result with your cake, but it is anything but tasteless. something had to be wrong when you made it. this is as moist and good as homemade brownies.

This cake was moist and delicious. I made it for my friend and she absolutely loved. I will definitely make it again and again.

I have made this cake with substituting strong coffee for the water.

We made this all the time growing up especially for picnics add peanut butter frosting and it is great

I made this cake for the 4th of July. I topped it with good old fashioned vanilla buttercream frosting. It was a hit. Love this cake!

6/22/15 I made the crazy cake recipe.... terrific.... was just the texture and taste I wanted.... I have been so disappointed in the box cake mixes...

Dear Pekarchick1... regarding the box cake mixes since the mfg have reduced the content size, it is wise to add six T. of either white cake mix, or flour if you want to get the same results from your old recipes.

I made this cake because everyone raved about it, but I was so disappointed because it was almost tasteless and very dry. I am going to stick with recipes that I know are delicious.

can you use a sugar substitute for this recipe? sounds delicious!

Hello! - We have not tried this recipe with a substitute for sugar, so we suggest following the recommendations on the sugar substitute package that you will be using. We'd love to hear how it turns out for you!

I use splenda cup for cup ratio

Can I replace the oil with applesauce? If so, what's the exact amount?

Hello! - We have not tried this recipe with applesauce, but we believe you could substitute for the same amount. Let us know how it turns out - Enjoy! :)

My Mom taught me how to bake this cake when I was 6 years old! I've been making it for over 60 years!!! This is the only chocolate cake I have ever made. My Nana taught my Mom how to make it!! She called it Crazy Chocolate Cake. It's a hit where ever I take it. I always include the recipe when asked to make it. It has never failed me. I still use the same metal pan my Mom always baked it in. Once you make this cake, you will make no other. Enjoy!!

instead of water use strong cold coffee, makes more of a chocolate flavor.

I used a glass dish and it burned on the edges, should I have turned the oven to 325 instead? I gave the edible part ) 4 stars though! Next time I will try a metal pan and I am sure it will be 5 stars!

Oh no, we're sorry to hear that your cake burned! We do not recommend changing the oven temperature for this cake. Our best recommendation is to use a metal baking pan the next time. Thank you for your comment!

I just made this cake again to bring up our Aunt and Uncle's . But I made butter cream frosting from scratch and it was delicious! I don't buy can frosting.

I've been making this for years as well you don't even need an electric mixer necessarily. Most recently I have been making it with gluten-free flour making it GF and Vegan to accommodate various diets. Additionally, I use half regular cocoa and half Hershey's Special Dark cocoa to make it even richer. Easy and delicious.

Been making this cake since 1962 - it has become our family's favorite cake, including 2 sons-in-law who bake this cake themselves, and grandkids who bake it. It is used for birthday cakes. I made it as the groom cakes for one of my kid's wedding and guests raved over it and asked what bakery the cakes came from. There are a couple things I use differently 2/3 cup cocoa and 2 or 3 Tblsp. cider vinegar and 2 cups cold water. My aunt gave me the recipe - she got it from my grandmother (born in 1880).

Been eating this for 70 years -- Love it. Instead of water use 1 cup of cold coffee. And I mix it in the cake pan with a fork, don't need a mixer and only get one pan dirty -- if you can call this dirty.

I never heard of or thought of using coffee! It sounds great! It also sounds like the best way to use that last cup of coffee in the pot that that was left (good excuse to make a cake, do not waist coffee!). Guess what we get for dessert tonight!

Do you have the recipe for the seven minute icing. My mom too used to make it and I have tried to find the recipe but cannot. I would really like to have it again.

This is from my old Fannie Farmer cookbook. In the top of a double boiler mix cup of sugar, 2 Tb water, 1/8 tsp cream of tarter or 1 tsp light corn syrup, few grains of salt, 1 egg white Beat 1 minute with a rotary mixer (hand or electric). Set over boiling water and beat until stiff enough to stand in peaks. (it may take about 4 min with electric beater) . Remove from heat and continue beating until thick enough to spread. Add tsp of vanilla. There are many variations you can make by adding different ingredients usually at the finished product. Good luck, I havent made this in decades since there are so many easier frosting recipes these days.

Sorry that should be 3/4 cup of sugar.

Can I skip the corn syrup or replace it with something else?

My Mom made this too while I was growing up but she made "7 minute frosting" to go on top. It was fabulous!

If this isn't the best chocolate cake I've ever tasted, it comes so close, that I would never make any other, considering its made, without any milk, eggs or butter. And the longer you have it, the better it gets. I do a lot of baking, esp. sweets and this will be my chocolate cake recipe from now on. You have to try it, you'll love it too.

My family loves this cake. It is also excellent as a white cake, without the cocoa. My daughter has adapted it to a carrot cake with spices, grated carrots and raisins. Also because her family LOVES chocolate adds chocolate chips to the basic recipe.

This was my Gram's recipe she use to make it when I was very young and she would put powered sugar on it sometimes she would also melt a Hersey candy candy bar on top and spread it to frost just one bar but mostly is was the powdered sugar.

have not tried it yet ..but will be doing so ..I am a veg.and this sounds delightfull. I wish I could find more recipies like this one ..thank you very much

My mom (who grew up during the depression) made this all the time, it is definitely one of the best cake recipes out there!

My daughter was diagnosed with severe allergies as a child and was undergoing shots. One of the foods she was allergic to was eggs. This became my standby dessert for a couple of years until she began to outgrow her allergies. My recipe was much simpler, mixing the dry ingredients directly in the baking pan, making 3 wells and pouring oil in one, vinegar into another and water/vanilla into the third, mix with wooden spoon and bake. Came out great, no bowls to wash.

My Mom used to make it the same way for me when I was little! I was the only one in the family allergic to milk, thank goodness I outgrew the allergy, but I will never out grow the cake!

The first time I made this cake was in 1969. It was great for me because I was a military wife with little income. It made an 8x8 pan which was just right for two people. I make it now for 6 and it does not last long. I've found it is better to make in a bowl instead of the pan so I don't miss any of the corners or edges. I never frost the cake, just sprinkle with powdered sugar. Also it can be mixed up with a fork or spoon, no need for beaters.

I make this exact recipe but put all ingredients right into an ungreased 9 x 13 cake pan. Mix well with a fork and bake according to directions for this recipe. No bowls or beaters to clean up. Just the empty cake pan. It works!!

i found this recipe in a 1979 Hershey cookbook and have been making it since. do not frost, just sprinkle with powdered sugar, frosting takes away the taste of the cake. it is so easy to make, and soooo good.


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