Depression Cake

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This recipe for chocolate cake is from the time of the Great Depression, it’s a moist and light chocolate cake made without eggs or dairy.


Chocolate Depression Cake


Depression Cake?  Yep, that’s what I said.

Most of us, myself included, would have thought the name for this cake came from the fact that it is a rich, moist chocolate cake. What’s better for depression than chocolate?

Actually, this is called “depression cake” because the recipe is from the time of the Great Depression, when things like eggs, milk, butter and sugar were really expensive and scarce.

The first time I enjoyed this cake, my friend, Julie, made it for my husband and I.  She had us over for dinner, and this was dessert.  She got the recipe from her Grandmother, and told me it was her favorite.  It quickly became one of mine, too.  (and everyone else I have shared it with!)

Depression Cake - An Affair from the Heart


I first shared this recipe back in June of 2012.  The other day while sharing with you my Chicken Piccata Recipe, it came to mind once again.  As a matter of a fact, I couldn’t STOP thinking about it.  

I had to make it.  We had this for dessert Monday night.  It’s one of my hubby’s favorite cakes.  Why?  Because there is no frosting.  Yep. he’s “one of those” who scrapes the frosting off of the cake before he eats it.  We like to serve this with a big dollop of whipped cream, but it’s delicious right out of the dish, like a snack cake.


Baking with Vinegar and Without Eggs:

I have come to find out that this cake, or similar cakes that are made without eggs, butter and milk, but utilize vinegar, go by many other names.  The most common name is  “Wacky Cake,” but it’s also been known as “Crazy Cake,”  “Dump Cake,” and “War Cake.”  Names like crazy and wacky come from the fact that most people would wonder just How on earth can you bake a cake without eggs?!


You sure can! Baking without eggs has become even more common in this day and age of so many people having allergies and such.  Eggless cakes are made with things like applesauce, too.  But in the case of this Depression Cake, we rely on the vinegar to do the “fizzy lifting.”


What does vinegar do to cake batter? Vinegar, used as an acid, reacts with the baking soda produces a chemical reaction, making carbon dioxide and give cake (and cookie) batters that lift they need while they bake. Most people think “yuck” when they think of the strong taste that vinegar has, but you won’t even taste it, or believe it’s in there at all!

The result is a nice airy moist chocolate cake, that is inexpensive and simple to make.  I always bake mine in a 9×13 baking dish, but it makes great cupcakes, too!
Depression Cake - An Affair from the Heart
Like I said, this chocolate cake ranks right up there as one of my favorites.  It’s one, that when I make it, someone always asks for the recipe.  But I have a lot of really good chocolate cake recipes, and I thought while I had you here, I would share a few of them with you?
Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake
SAUERKRAUT CHOCOLATE CAKE Dense, fudge-y chocolate cake made with sauerkraut – yes, sauerkraut -slathered in sour cream chocolate frosting. Best Chocolate cake I have ever eaten!

My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipes:



Chocolate Macaroon Tunnel Cake
My husband’s favorite chocolate cake is this CHOCOLATE MACAROON TUNNEL CAKE Rich chocolate bundt cake with a coconut tunnel inside. Drizzled with both chocolate and vanilla icing. Just like that age old mix time forgot.
If you are looking for an amazing Chocolate Frosting, this Chocolate Pudding Frosting is pure heaven.  
Chocolate Pudding Frosting
CHOCOLATE PUDDING FROSTING This fluffy Chocolate Pudding Frosting is reminiscent of that Jell-o Pudding Mousse you had as a kid, only it’s frosting perfection when slathered over your favorite chocolate cake.
Depression Cake - An Affair from the Heart
Let’s get to the recipe for this deliciously crazy, wacky, wartime, Depression Cake, shall we?  M.
Yield: 9x13 cake

Depression Cake

Side view of Depression Cake on a white plate

This recipe is from the time of the Great Depression, it's a moist and light chocolate cake made without eggs or dairy.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 5 heaping Tablespoons of cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • whipped cream, for serving, if desired


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine ingredients and pour into an UNGREASED 9×13 pan.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Top with fresh whipped cream if desired.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 259mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 2g

Nutrition isn't guaranteed accurate.


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  1. Hi. This cake looks great. I only have apple cider vinegar. Can I use that in place of the white vinegar? I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Although I haven’t tried that myself, I am sure it would work. I did a little research and it looks like others have subbed the same amount of ACV for white vinegar with no problem.

  2. This recipe is amazing so thank you! I’ve also used gluten free flour in place of all purpose and turns out great as well. The batter is very thick with GF flour when putting it into the baking dish, but have no fear!

  3. I know this recipe as “Wacky Cake”. My recipe is slightly smaller, and uses an 8×8 pan. You can mix this right in the pan. I sift the dry ingrediants together into the pan, add the wet, and stir with a fork. No need for a bowl.

  4. I have heard of this recipe and have wanted to try it for a long time. Well it has happen now.! What a surprise it was. Bake it in my cast iron Dutch oven over coals. Those who have tried it was sure surprised on what was in it. I’ll be making this more now. Thanks for the recipe.

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