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Wacky Cake {Vegan}

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Wacky Cake (also called Crazy Cake), so named because it uses vinegar and no eggs, is perhaps the first cake I ever baked, and the only recipe my Mom really passed on to me.  The first time she told me about it I was a little girl, and she fondly recalled baking it when she was a little girl at a time when I was lamenting the lack of eggs in the house.  I immediately asked if she still had the recipe, because anything that had chocolate in it and had such a cool name had to be good.  I was the designated family baker even at the age of nine, and I baked up this cake that night, much to my family’s delight.

It became popular during the depression, when eggs and butter were rationed and hard to come by, and many of us continue to enjoy it today because it is economical, delicious, and easy to make!  I’ve made this cake many times over the years, including as the base for my vegan Mounds Cake, and was just about to use it as the base in another recipe when I realized I should probably give it a post of it’s own so I can link to it each time I post a recipe that uses it, rather than typing it out each time.

Many recipes for Wacky Cake make an 8×8″ pan, but this one will give you a 9×13 pan (or two 9″ round layers) full of chocolatey goodness.  I’m also going to include a yummy vegan frosting recipe that goes really good on this cake.  The cake is great just with a dusting of powdered sugar (I really like to eat it a little warm like this), but the shiny chocolate icing really puts it over the top.  Enjoy!

Wacky Cake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with pic

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup cocoa powder*
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 cups cold water

*I use Dutch process cocoa powder because it makes a darker cake with more intense chocolate flavor, but you can use any kind you wish.  Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder is available in most supermarkets, which works well here.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. Sift all dry ingredients together into a large bowl.

Make three wells and put the oil in one, the vanilla in another and the vinegar in the last. Is this really necessary?  I don’t know, I’ve never disobeyed the recipe.  I like to think of it as keeping history alive.  Our foremothers made Wacky Cake this way, so who am I to change it now?

Pour water over it all and mix until well blended.  Look at all the bubbles as the vinegar interacts with the baking soda! This is the kind of science I can get behind.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack.  Frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.  I love how dark it gets while baking–the magic of Dutch process cocoa!

You wouldn’t believe how moist and delicious a vegan cake can be!  This is one of my hubby’s faves.

Now let’s frost Dennis’ piece…

Shiny Chocolate Icing

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with pic

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup cocoa*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water or nondairy milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugars, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the coconut milk. Stirring constantly, heat over medium until it gets thick and starts to boil. Continue stirring and boil for 1-2 minutes or until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in oil and vanilla.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then spread over the top of your cooled cake.

*Again, I used Dutch processed cocoa, but regular is fine.

Recipe source: I apologize to the originator of this recipe! I did not copy the source and since I changed it, I couldn’t locate it by entering the recipe words into Google.  The original was very similar but called for water instead of milk.  Both work great but I like using coconut milk.

Usually it’s a little thicker like real frosting, but I made this one a little thinner like a glaze, plus I put it on a slightly warm cake which made it run a little more.

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

32 responses »

  1. Ooooo that glaze is so pretty! Beautiful cake. :D

  2. Yum! Excellent looking cake! I’ve never heard of vinegar rather than eggs.

  3. I was intrigued by a vegan cake! This is something I hadn’t really thought that possible but the veg oil is a great substitute (and usually results in much moister I agree). Great recipe – thanks!

  4. Wow, that looks yummy! I am by noe means vegan (or even vegetarian), but I’ll make sure to print this and have it available, in case we get vegetarian/vegan visitors.. or just for fun. ^^

  5. Looks delicious for a lighter cake!

    • I can’t claim it’s lighter–I think it’s around the same calories as normal cake. 1/12 of the cake is 11 Points Plus, but I’m not sure how that translates to calories. I usually eat 11 pounds MAX per meal, so that’s a steep price to pay for cake!

  6. Oh, YUM! But: “You wouldn’t believe how moist and delicious a vegan cake can be!” Oh, I most certainly do believe it! And it doesn’t sound so “wacky” to me! Eggs really are not necessary for a lot of desserts, except maybe meringues. But, I have heard of vegan meringue, so what do I know?!

    • Oh, I believe you believe it! You have more experience with vegan baking than I do. I’ve never heard of vegan meringue and an intrigued! That might be the solution to veganizing a few dairy-free recipes I have that require (as opposed to including without actually needing) eggs.

  7. Pingback: Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake Pops « Veronica's Cornucopia

  8. My mom calls it Crazy Cake, but this is the cake that she passed on to me too, lol! It’s actually my favorite chocolate cake since it comes out super moist with a tender crumb and perfect chocolate flavor each time. Looks fantastic, Veronica!

  9. Looks great! Have you ever tried making it with spelt flour or any sugar substitutes?

    • I haven’t, but the only substitutes I would try here would be SomerSweet or Whey Low because they bake like sugar (unlike others, where the cake doesn’t rise properly and gets a funky texture). I’m not familiar with spelt flour so I can’t say for sure how that substitute would work. If you try it, I’m very interested to know!

  10. Pingback: Cake Pops For Kids « My 1/2 Cup Full or Empty of Life

  11. I did half the flour whole wheat pastry flour and used applesauce instead of the oil. YUM!

  12. Pingback: Wacky Pumpkin Spice Cake {Vegan} « Veronica's Cornucopia

  13. I am not sure what I did wrong but the cornstarch did not dissolve when making the icing, could it just be my cornstarch? Or did I do something wrong?

  14. I made and devoured a piece of this yumminess with company tonight for a Reformation party. For the frosting, we don’t have cornstarch available in stores here (Russia) but I typically use potato starch instead. I found that it left a kind of disappointing potato-ey aftertaste. I’m sure it’s much better with cornstarch. The cake is so moist and I love the texture!

  15. Hi Veronica ! I’m going to make this cake this weekend – however, i’m going to make cupcakes instead. I’ll let you know how they come out. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Hi! Ur cake recipe looks sooo interesting especially since there is no butter involved… Wanted to ask u how long could u keep this cake in the fridge without ruining its moist as I want to make cake balls however the only time I have to make the cake is three days before and the cake pop a day before the function … Is it ok that long ?

    • Instead of making the cake three days in advance, go ahead and turn the cake into cake balls as soon as it’s cool, or the next day, then store those until you’re ready to use them, refrigerated, and covered with plastic. This is better than storing the cake, although that would work as well.

      • Hi thanks for the reply… Wanted some advice .. I followed the recipe accurately yet somehow the bottom of my cake wasn’t really cooked and my family said that the flour was too much ….. I knw I didn’t put too much flour as I followed urs exactly… Is the cake suppose to be abit slimy-ish ? The taste was nice just consistency problem …

  17. I made the cake balls last night and they are wonderful! I think I cooked the icing too much though because it turned out like seized chocolate, just not as hard. I still used it because the taste was good, just not the consistency. It mixed very well with the cake and the cake balls turned out great. How long should the whole stove part of the process be for the icing? I used almond milk, but it didn’t get “very thick” until 15-20 minutes of stirring on the stove. Times are helpful to me because I don’t bake very often. Thank you!

  18. this is the recipe I have always used for frosting for the wacky cake:
    Chocolate Frosting

    1 ½ c sugar

    6 T butter/marg.

    6 T milk (equals 3 fl. oz.)

    melt butter, then add sugar & milk

    bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds

    remove from heat

    add 1 cup of milk chocolate chips (can use ½ milk choc. & ½ semi sweet)

    and 1 tsp vanilla

    stir until chips are melted and pour on cake – this sets up really quickly

    covers a 9 x 13 cake

    • Thank you for sharing, I will try that next time! I just wanted to give a vegan recipe for frosting with the cake since it’s a vegan cake. But I’m not vegan, so bring on this buttery yummy frosting!

  19. This is a classic. I’ve been baking it for 40 years (started baking at a very young age!). I’m not vegan, but it’s good for when one runs out of eggs and milk, or for those with allergies to those things. Got a variation for making cupcakes out of this?

    • I haven’t done it but know that Faith from An Edible Mosaic makes wacky cake (or crazy cake, as she calls it) into cupcakes all the time. I’d just make the recipe and put it in cupcake tins lined with paper liners, baking for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

  20. Pingback: » VeganMoFo: Pretty In Pink Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk!

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