Vanilla Wacky Cake

Enjoy this easy, delicious vanilla wacky cake recipe, made with minimal ingredients. It’s a perfect casual weeknight dessert. Or you can dress it up with frosting and sprinkles for a fancy weekend dessert.

This is a vanilla version of my Chocolate Wacky Cake, both are amazing in their own ways!

A slice of vegan vanilla wacky cake sits on a plate. The rest of the cake is behind it.

We are loving this white wacky cake recipe because it’s rich and delicious, but oh-so-easy to make. I love it because a wacky cake recipe requires minimal ingredients and a few minutes to throw together.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Made without eggs or milk, like all the wacky cake recipes, it’s a perfect vegan cake
  • Stir-only ingredients mean you won’t need to get out your mixer for this cake
  • The use of apple cider vinegar adds tenderness to the cake while providing a lift to make a nice, fluffy, and delicious cake

Ingredients

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Flour — I use all-purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour (which is different than whole wheat flour).
  • Sugar — I recommend granulated sugar or raw sugar. You can reduce the sugar a bit, but sugar helps build cake structure, thus making a moist cake. Reducing it too much can make the cake dry.
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil — Just about any vegetable oil should do here, such as canola oil. You can substitute melted coconut oil.
  • Water
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Vanilla

How to Make Vanilla Wacky Cake

  1. Stir together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, like the flour and sugar.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together.
  3. Make the batter by pouring the water mixture in with the flour mixture, and then stirring until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.
A hand tipping a measuring cup full of flour into a large bowl

Baking Variations

  • Make cupcakes by putting cupcake papers in a muffin pan. Fill each with the batter until about 3/4 full. Bake them for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • For a 9×13 cake, double the recipe and pour the batter into a prepared 9×13 cake pan. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Make a layer cake by doubling the recipe and baking the cakes in two round pans for 30 minutes.

Vegan Frosting Ideas

  • Vegan 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 one minute and then let it sit until the chocolate melts. Stir it and then pour it over the cake.
  • Chocolate Buttercream
  • Vanilla Buttercream 
  • Vegan Cream Cheese
  • Strawberry Frosting — Use the frosting from this vegan strawberry cake

Marly’s Tips

  • Be sure to have the oven preheated to 350°F before mixing the wet and dry vanilla depression cake ingredients together.
  • Use fresh baking soda! Test your baking soda by adding a teaspoonful into a bowl and add a bit of vinegar. If it bubbles, the baking soda is good!
  • Want to try a banana wacky cake? Add a mashed banana to the batter and enjoy the moisture that bananas add.

Vanilla wacky cake recipes are like the little black dress of cakes. You can eat it casually on a Thursday night, or you can dress it up (by adding another layer), and voila! It’s ready for prime time.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Why is it called Wacky Cake?

The wacky cake, sometimes referred to as a depression cake recipe, was created as a result of a lack of access to certain food products, such as eggs and dairy. I guess they thought a cake without eggs or milk was wacky! So, there you have it, a wacky cake is named because of the paradigm shift it caused. The Food Timeline places the first mention of the Wacky Cake around 1940.

Why do you put vinegar in cake?

Vinegar is necessary for the wacky cake recipe because it creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda, causing lift and rise which is necessary for high, fluffy cakes.

Dairy-Free Cake Recipes

Any of these would make a great dairy free birthday cake recipe, too.

Looking down on a slice of vegan vanilla wacky cake on a plate beside the whole cake with a few slices cut out. A bowl of sprinkles sits beside the plate.
A slice of vegan vanilla wacky cake sits on a plate. The rest of the cake is behind it.

Vanilla Wacky Cake Recipe

This Vegan Vanilla Wacky Cake is made with chocolate icing and vanilla protein powder to make this cake beautiful, easy, and delicious!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9
Calories: 234kcal
Author: Namely Marly

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Powdered sugar or Chocolate Frosting (see below for topping**)

Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 350°F. 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, salt, and baking soda. Stir to combine.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  • Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 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 products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

Top with powdered sugar or any of these frostings:
***I doubled the recipe to turn it into a layer cake
Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Wacky Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 234 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Sodium 253mg11%
Potassium 22mg1%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 2g4%
Calcium 3mg0%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

5 Responses to Vanilla Wacky Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyRebecca @ Strength and Sunshine Reply

    It looks rather perfect Marly!! Fun and so sweetly delicious!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySusan Wright Reply

    on a plant based diet we don’t do sugar or oil this would be too hard to make that way

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Susan. Thanks for your comment. You could make the recipe with dates instead of sugar. I have done that before (not with this recipe but with others) and it works. To replace the oil, you could use applesauce or even a mashed avocado. Check out my Chocolate Avocado Cake recipe as an example. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the same, but it might be pretty tasty. I hope this works for you!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyPat Reply

    Love the look of this recipe but I not only balk at protein powder I don’t use or buy it. Can I substitute something? (Maybe almond Flour.?) Thanks.

    Thanks

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Pat. Thanks for your comment! I have used almond flour in place of protein powder in this recipe and it works. Thanks for reminding me — I will add a note to the recipe.

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