This moist chocolate Wacky Cake recipe is so good! It’s basically a simple vegan cake that’s been around for nearly a hundred years. If you’re into chocolate, you’ll love this light and fluffy goofy cake that’s topped with a rich, indulgent, wacky cake frosting.
We are loving this chocolate wacky cake because it’s rich and delicious, but oh-so-easy to make. If you haven’t guessed by now, I love a good cake!
What’s surprising is just how moist this cake is considering the limited ingredients and the minimal steps involved. Did you think the only way to a great cake was through a mixer? Think again!
When my mom first started talking about wacky chocolate cake recipe I was like, Wahhh??? Or, actually, I might have been a little more like, yeah, yeah, whatevs. But then one day my mom gave me her old recipe book, the one she’s been using for years. And then I started flipping through it and sure enough, there was a recipe for Wacky Cake and there it just so happens to be vegan!
What is Wacky Cake?
The wacky cake has an interesting history. It’s been around since the Great Depression of the early 1900s, which is why it’s also referred to as Depression Cake. During the Great Depression, people didn’t always have access to milk and cream, eggs, and even sugar, so they made do. The wacky cake is made without eggs or milk, and yet it’s moist and delicious.
Interestingly enough, it’s the combination of ingredients like sugar, vegetable oil and the gluten in the flour that gives this cake such rise and keeps it moist too. Of course, you could add up to a half cup of applesauce to make it even more moist. I’ve done that from time to time myself, but mostly, I find this cake is plenty moist exactly as is.
My mom tells me how sometimes for Christmas they’d get an orange and that was really special. It certainly makes me look at the oranges I eat differently. We have so much to be thankful for.
Anyway, my mom and I took that crazy cake recipe from her book and adapted it a little bit.
How to Make Wacky Cake
I couldn’t believe how easy it is to make this wacky cake chocolate. No mixers, exotic ingredients, or even egg replacers. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl and then combine them together and, Eureka! You’ve got a rich, moist, and delicious vegan chocolate cake!
Wacky Cake Ingredients
You’ll need these ingredients for your wacky cake:
- flour — I typically use all-purpose flour, however, you could also use whole wheat pastry flour (not the same thing as whole wheat flour). If you want to use whole wheat flour, just do half and half with all-purpose flour. Alternatively, you can sub gluten-free flour as well.
- cocoa powder — I use natural cocoa powder for this cake, but you can use dutch-processed flour for a darker cake.
- sugar — You can use granulated sugar, raw sugar, or even coconut sugar here and all will work fine. I have experimented with reducing the sugar to 3/4 of a cup and it still works. Sugar plays a role in building structure and creating a more moist cake, so reducing it too much can make a dryer cake.
- baking soda — The only thing I have to say here is to make sure your baking soda is fresh. You can test it by adding a bit of vinegar to it in a small bowl. If it bubbles, you’re good to go.
- water — Are you surprised to see water in the list of ingredients? You may think you need to use something like a creamy plant-based milk. But, this cake gets its moisture from the vegetable oil, so using water is just fine. In fact, it’s preferable.
- vegetable oil — Any vegetable oil should do here. I typically use canola oil.
- apple cider vinegar — If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, a white vinegar will work as well. The purpose of vinegar is to interact with the baking soda and create rise in the cake as it bakes. I would call it a miracle, but it’s actually science.
I have previously used vanilla extract in this recipe, but I have learned recently that adding vanilla to a cake is not necessary. In fact, I think we do it mostly out of habit. I have a guess that if you taste tested two cakes, one with vanilla and one without, even the pickiest of tasters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So, I say, leave it out.
Step One: Combine Dry Ingredients
To begin, stir together in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Set this aside.
Step Two: Combine Wet Ingredients
In a smaller bowl stir together the vegetable oil, water, vinegar and vanilla.
Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and then stir until combined. This recipe is so simple, it doesn’t even require a mixer!
Step Three: Pour into a Prepared Pan and Bake
Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
You can either serve the cake in the pan, or allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes and invert it onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or top with vegan chocolate frosting.
For an even more elegant presentation of your cake, top it with a sultry chocolate ganache.
Here’s how to make chocolate ganache: place 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup rich, creamy plant-based milk (like coconut milk or thick and creamy vegan creamer). Heat this in the microwave for about one minute. Allow it to sit for another minute or so.
Then stir until all the chocolate is melted and the milk is incorporated into a creamy, chocolate mixture. Pour this over the cake and allow it to sit until the chocolate has firmed up. Or, you can eat it while the chocolate is still warm — it’s great that way too!
Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see a slice of cake with chocolate ganache frosting. It really is elegant!
I’ve made this cake so many times — it is definitely a go-to favorite! Here are some tips and tricks along with variations to make your vegan wacky cake recipe extra special:
- Be sure to prepare your pan before you combine the wet and dry ingredients. This helps take advantage of the chemical reaction of combining the acid from the vinegar with the baking soda to make the cake nice and fluffy
- I do like to add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan, simply because it makes removing the cake from the pan much easier. However, if you intend to serve it in the pan, you won’t need parchment paper
- You’ll also want to have your oven pre=heated before combining wet and dry ingredients
- You can add chocolate chips to the batter to make a double chocolate cake
- Chopped walnuts added to the batter or even on top of the frosting is very tasty
- Make wacky cake cupcakes by lining a cupcake pan with papers and filling each with the batter until about 3/4 full. For cupcakes, I bake them about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- This recipe is for a single round or square cake pan. but if you want to make a wacky cake 9X13 size, simply double the recipe, pour the batter into a greased 9X13 cake pan, and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Personally, a cake has to have amazing frosting to make my list of favorites. But if you want to skip that step, you can always just give it a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
- Be sure to let the cake cool completely before frosting it
- Also, I love using coconut oil in this chocolate wacky cake recipe. Simply measure out coconut oil instead of the vegetable oil. I find it helps to melt the coconut oil first.
Great Vegan Frostings
I think the key to a great cake lies in its frosting. I’m a corner-piece, frosting loving gal! So, if you’re looking for great frosting for this cake, here are my favorites:
- This vegan chocolate frosting is simply the best
- Another great frosting would be this vegan vanilla frosting
- Of course, you can’t go wrong with this vegan cream cheese frosting too!
Love Vegan Cake Recipes?
Sure you love chocolate wacky cake recipes! But doesn’t that leave you wanting more vegan cake recipes? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
- For example, there’s my Vegan Chunky Monkey Cake
- There’s also this Vegan Chocolate Chai Cake
- Everyone loves this Vanilla Wacky Cake recipe. Just imagine a wacky cake vanilla infused!
- And this Vegan Texas Sheet Cake? Ooh la la! Yah. It’s all about the cake!
- Of course, everyone loves this Vegan Carrot Cake recipe. It’s amazing!
I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!
Chocolate Wacky Cake Recipe
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Heat your oven to 350F. Spray a round cake pan with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and spray the sides with vegetable oil.
- Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Stir to combine.
- In a smaller bowl combine the vegetable oil, water, and vinegar. Stir to combine.
- Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or top with Chocolate Frosting.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
No eggs cakes recipes are pretty amazing! Here are some other delicious vegan chocolate cakes to try:
- Vegan Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache by Vegan Richa
- Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake by Joy the Baker
Whatever cake you’re polishing off, enjoy!
The photos for this post were recently updated. Here’s an example of the old photos.