My great-grandmother was a product of the Depression. She never left a restaurant without a purse full of sugar packets and Smucker’s jam. Even loose buttons were carefully tucked away for future use. As a child her frugality was horrifying (I was knee-deep in the excess of the 80s), but looking back I have nothing but respect for her resourcefulness. Waste not, want not—simple as that. She was a tough lady that took ketchup packets from the Arby’s and didn’t apologize. But it wasn’t all ketchup pilfering and button hoarding, there were lots of silver linings to her Depression-era sensibilities; one, in particular, was the Wacky cake.
The Wacky Cake is something I think just about every grandma and church lady in the Midwestern to Southern United States can whip up in nothing flat. Maybe you recognize it by another name; the Three-Hole Cake or the Depression Cake.
At a time when butter and eggs were scarce or far too expensive, these ingenious women (and surely more than a few men!) found a way to make their cakes rise. The solution was simple: baking soda and vinegar — an explosive combination, handy for third-grade volcanic science projects and bringing a beautiful rise to a cake batter, sans eggs. It very well may be the original vegan cake.
Despite the lack of eggs, people still wanted to enjoy sweet treats, which led to the creation of eggless cake recipes. They were popular among families who were looking for ways to stretch their food budget, as they were affordable and easy to make. Despite their simple ingredients, these cakes still provided a taste of sweetness and comfort during a difficult time in American history.
This decades-old recipe is simple, light, spongy, and not too sweet. Although, truth be told I’m always up for adding a few handfuls of chocolate chips to the mix. Dust with a little powdered sugar just before serving.
Channel your inner grandma this week and bake yourself a wacky cake.
Vega Chocolate Cake Ingredients
Having all the ingredients for a vegan chocolate cake already in your pantry can be a convenient and cost-effective way to satisfy your sweet tooth. A typical vegan chocolate cake recipe calls for pantry staples such as flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and vinegar. With these ingredients on hand, you can whip up a delicious and satisfying cake in no time, without having to make a trip to the grocery store.
- all-purpose flour
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- baking soda
- vanilla extract
- white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- vegetable oil
Ideas for decorating your cake
- Dust with powdered sugar or get fancy with one of these easy powdered sugar stencils, from Food52.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and fruit on the side.
- Double the recipe, use two 9-inch round cake pans and frost with this simple, vegan chocolate mousse frosting.
- Double the recipe, use two 9-inch round cake pans, and top with whipped coconut cream and fruit.
- Top with whipped coconut cream and shaved dark chocolate.
- Sprinkles are always a good idea.
Baking cakes without eggs was a common practice during the Great Depression in America, as eggs were expensive and scarce at the time. Despite the lack of eggs, people still wanted to enjoy sweet treats, which led to the creation of eggless cake recipes.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch square or round pan.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Make three holes in the dry ingredients, one large and two small.
- Add the vanilla to the first small hole, the vinegar to the second, and the oil to the large hole. Then pour the water over everything and stir to combine.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, then cut and serve.
- Keep at room temperature, wrapped airtight, for up to 3 days; refrigerate after that.
- This recipe is easy to double for a more festive two-layered cake!
- You can use a 9-inch round or 9-inch square pan.
- Substitute ½ cup of leftover coffee for half of the water for a richer cake.
Keywords: vegan chocolate cake recipe, eggless chocolate cake recipe
Interesting in more vegan desserts? From classic cakes to inventive desserts, our recipes use only plant-based ingredients to create decadent treats that are both healthy and satisfying. So preheat your oven and let's get baking!