Mouthwatering light, yet moist chocolate Depression cake. This delicious chocolate cake is dairy-free, egg-free, and easy enough for even the most beginner baker to make!
Why you'll love it
There is nothing better than an easy little snack cake that you can make on a weeknight and not feel too guilty about enjoying for breakfast along with my morning coffee.
This cake fits all the marks and then some. You can fix up the cake in so many different ways to make it a little fancier, but it is also perfect just as it is.
Nothing is better than taking out this cake and smelling that sumptuous scent of chocolate wafting throughout the house.
What is Depression Cake?
No, this cake isn't the cake you make when you are feeling down. Well, it is, but it is more than that. This moist chocolate cake gets its name because it was invented during the Great Depression.
Resources were scarce, and no one had spare butter and eggs to bake their normal cakes. Still, they craved a little indulgence every so often, and used their creativity to create a cake using the staples they had available.
Despite the sparse ingredients in the cake, it is surprisingly packed with flavor. I believe this is because it allows you to fully enjoy the flavor of the chocolate without anything to distract from it.
Depression cake is also sometimes called Wacky Cake or War Cake.
First, let's remind ourselves of what you will not find in a Depression cake: eggs, butter, milk.
That means that the cake is vegan, perfect for baking for a vegan friend of yours.
What you will find in a Depression cake: flour, baking powder sugar, salt, cocoa powder, oil, vinegar, and water.
Since the ingredients are so minimal, I highly recommend making sure you use high-quality cocoa powder. As we use only baking soda in this recipe, make sure you use natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
If you want to stray from the traditional Wacky Cake, you can add in chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, or spices. You can also top the cake with frosting instead of powdered sugar.
Making the Cake
Making a Depression cake is probably one of the easiest things you can do. It is one cake I actually enjoy making with super messy kids. It's one I even let my baking-challenged sister handle all on her own.
- Preheat your oven. Grease and flour your baking pan. I recommend lightly rubbing the pan with a bit of oil and using cocoa powder to coat the pan.
- Mix together the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Stir until there are little to no lumps.
- Pour the mixture into the baking pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with a crumb or two clinging to it.
- Remove from the oven, cool, and top with powdered sugar.
Yes, this cake is completely vegan if you make it as-is. You are welcome to make any additions you want, but to keep the cake vegan, you must use vegan add-ins.
I recommend keeping the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days. The cake can be frozen. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container. Freeze for up to a month.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 square baking pan.
- Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
- Add in the vinegar, vanilla, oil, and water to the flour mixture and stir until there are just a couple of lumps left in the batter.
- Pour the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly to the edges.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a couple of crumbs stuck to it.
- Cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar