Call it a chocolate wacky cake, Depression cake, or the easiest chocolate cake – whichever you choose, this small 6-inch chocolate cake is incredibly moist, rich, and made with simple pantry staples. No butter, eggs, or milk are required for this chocolate cake recipe!
Small Chocolate wacky Cake
Ok, what’s the deal with a wacky cake? I mean, why do we call a cake wacky (hello, chocolate cake is anything but wacky!) Well, the wacky cake has a bit of history. You may also see this easy chocolate cake called a Depression cake, crazy cake, or WWII cake. Essentially, the cake came to be when families couldn’t afford, or were rationing, ingredients like butter, milk, and eggs.
The baker’s back then were incredibly sharp in realizing that oil and vinegar work as great substitutes for dairy and eggs. Vingegar combines with baking soda to make the cake soft and lofty, while oil makes the cake incredibly moist.
And what makes this chocolate wacky cake recipe so special is that it yields a small cake perfectly sized to satisfy those chocolate cravings. I see you chocolate lovers! Plus, this cake stays moist days after baking.
So, while I love a cake full of the indulgences of dairy and eggs, (small vanilla cake please!), this little chocolate wacky cake has a special place in my heart because it may just be the easiest cake you will ever make!
Let’s Make This Easy Chocolate Cake
1. Gather your ingredients
This should be easy – all of these ingredients may already be in your pantry! Flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, oil*, vinegar, vanilla extract, and water (not in your pantry per se …), and that’s it! No eggs or dairy needed!
*I like to use coconut oil because of its neutral flavor, but any other neutral oil will work (like canola oil, grapesee oil, or even avocado oil.
2. Whisk Together all the Dry Ingredients
In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, and give a good whisk. I like to mix these ingredients first to remove any cocoa powder lumps. Then you whisk in the sugar.
3. Make Little Wells For the Wet Ingredients
Once you have the dry ingredients combined, make 3 wells. These will hold the vinegar, vanilla, and oil.
What is the purpose of these 3 wells you ask? Well … it really is just a nod to the original wacky cake recipes. The reason is likely because when baking soda combines with vinegar, the reaction is immediate. The wells will delay this reaction slightly.
However, if the wacky cake goes into the oven right away, there really is no reason you can’t make one well for the wet ingredients. I’ve tested it, and the result is the same.
4. Pour Over The Hot Water
Now, pour on that hot water! You will see the mixture gets bubbly (thanks to the baking soda + vinegar), and you just want to give the batter a good mix until no dry streaks remain.
5. Bake The Wacky Cake
Pour your batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 22 to 24 minutes at 350F degrees. You will know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch, and the ol’ toothpick in the middle comes out mostly clean.
6. Frost With YOur FAvorite Frosting
And some cute sprinkles, because, why not?! Just make sure the cake is completely cool before you start slathering on the delicious topping. For reference, I frosted my chocolate wacky cake with marshmallow whipped cream frosting – similar to my strawberry whipped cream recipe, and the whipped topping on my hot cocoa pudding. Just without the strawberry or peppermint.
Frequently Asked Questions For Chocolate WAcky Cake
Yes! Especially since there are no eggs, butter, or dairy in the cake! I recommend an 8-inch cake pan and the larger cake may take 25 to 30 minutes to bake.
Typically, yes. However, you can make the easy chocoalte cake in any shaped pan you like! Just keep in mind it is a small cake recipe and the pan should accomodate the small batch batter.
This method is simply a nod to how the wacky cake was originally made. Likely, the bakers chose to make the wells to delay the reaction of the vinegar and baking soda. However, you can make 1 well for the wet ingredients since the cake goes in the oven right away.
This may be one chocolate cake recipe that I say it is your choice. I prefer Dutch cocoa because it is less acidic with a rich cocoa flavor. Though, natural cocoa will work just fine.
Small Chocolate Wacky Cake Recipe
Chocolate Wacky Cake
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
- ⅓ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup organic cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 3 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted (or any neutral oil)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons white distilled vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- ½ cup hot water
Chocolate Wacky Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the bottom of a 6-inch round cake pan with a piece of parchment cut to fit. Lightly grease the pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the sugar. Then, make 3 wells in the dry ingredients.¾ cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process, ⅓ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ cup organic cane sugar
- Add the oil in one well, the vanilla in the second, and the vinegar in the third. Then, pour the hot water over the top and whisk together until all ingredients are combined.3 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1½ teaspoons white distilled vinegar, ½ cup hot water
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, flip the pan over onto the wire rack to remove the cake and let it cool completely. If needed, run an offset spatula or sharp knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If using whipped cream or meringue frosting, I recommend refrigerating the cake.Chocolate Fudge Frosting, Chocolate Butter Free Frosting, Strawberry Whipped Cream, Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
- Serving Size – This is a small batch recipe that is easily doubled. Use an 8-inch cake pan and start checking the cake at 25 minutes.
- Yield – The recipe as written will yield 1 6-inch cake that can be cut into 4 to 6 slices.
- Cake Pan – You can also bake the small cake in a 6-inch square cake pan.
- Cocoa Powder – I prefer Dutch process cocoa because it is less acidic with a strong cocoa flavor. Natural cocoa will also work.
- Storing – The cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Beyond that, and it may start to dry out. If using a whipped cream based frosting, I recommend refrigerating the cake.
- Freezing – The un-frosted, baked cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bake. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator.
about the author ...
I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!
I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!