Chocolate Wacky/Crazy Cake (one-bowl, vegan)

My grandma’s recipe from the depression era, called “whacky”, “wacky”, or “crazy” cake because it’s made with no dairy or eggs (they were not affordable) and still turns out marvelously. It’s an intense chocolate cake that is naturally vegan, super easy to make, and will be your new go-to recipe for decadent desserts!


This recipe was proudly featured in the January/February 2020 issue of Sierra Magazine!

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So many people ask me for my chocolate cake recipe, saying that it’s the best chocolate cake they’ve ever tasted – so here you go! It’s adapted from a recipe my grandmother used during the depression (or so I was told) when eggs and milk were scarce. It’s rich and indulgent and no one is ever the wiser that it’s vegan and oh-so-simple to make with oh-so-simple ingredients.

It’s amazing for making show-stopping layer cakes, carved cakes, cake pops or cupcakes.

Once you’ve made your batter, pour it into oiled and parchment-paper-lined pans and bake at 325F (162C) for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. I usually check at 40 minutes by giving the pan a jiggle, and if the batter jiggles as well I check in another ten minutes. If it doesn’t jiggle, I test with a cake tester/toothpick. If that comes out with wet batter, I give it another five minutes before checking again.

Makes a quarter sheet (9×13), or two 8” round cakes, or three 6” round cakes, or 24-30 cupcakes.

Cover it in my easiest vegan buttercream ever or the less sweet American meringue version– or go super chocolatey with my quick and easy vegan ganache

Once it’s baked, the cake can be stored in the freezer – either frosted or naked – double wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to a month. Triple wrap and put it in a box to leave it in the freezer for up to six months. Otherwise it can be kept covered at room temp for up to a week.

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Yield: 1 10", 2 8", 3 6" cakes, or 24 cupcakes

One-Bowl Chocolate Whacky Cake (vegan, soy-free, nut-free)

One-Bowl Chocolate Whacky Cake (vegan, soy-free, nut-free)

The ultimate chocolate cake. It's rich, moist, delicious with a tender crumb, and perfect for carving and stacking. My grandma gave me this recipe, and said it's what they used during the depression when milk and eggs were not affordable. It's super allergy-friendly and many people say this is the best chocolate cake they've ever had.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3.5 cups all purpose flour (420g)
  • 2 cups sugar (400g)
  • 2 tsp baking soda (bicarb) (12g)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (dark cocoa is my favorite) (50g)
  • 1 tsp salt (6g)
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (30ml)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (10ml)
  • 3/4 cup of melted vegan butter/margarine (you can use oil, see notes below) (175ml)
  • 2 cups hot coffee (475ml)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F (162C)
  2. Prepare your cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment paper circles on the bottom
  3. Whisk together your flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl
  4. Create three deep wells in your dry mix
  5. To the first well, add your vinegar. To the second, add the vanilla. To the third, add the melted butter/oil
  6. Pour your hot coffee over the entire mixture
  7. Gently whisk or fold your batter until it's well combined and no dry bits remain
  8. Divide your batter evenly among your prepared pans
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until you insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and it comes out clean
  10. Remove your cakes from the oven to a cooling rack. Let it sit in the cake pan for five minutes before turning it out.

Notes

*This can be made with your favourite cup-for-cup gluten-free flour if you want to make a wheat-free version.

*For a no-sugar-added version, use a cup-for-cup Stevia baking blend in place of the granulated sugar.

*Using melted butter is recommended for stacked or carved cakes. Oil is best for cupcakes as it results in a fluffier cake.

*Use your favorite plant milk instead of coffee for a delicious milk-chocolate cake

*For soy-free, use melted Country Crock Plant Butter sticks (avoiding the almond one if you have a nut allergy) or Miyoko’s butter if you’d like to also avoid palm-oil. Or use a non-soy oil instead.

Allergy-Friendly and Vegan Pastry Recipes:

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51 thoughts on “Chocolate Wacky/Crazy Cake (one-bowl, vegan)”

  1. Hey there. I was wondering when you say “vegan butter” do you mean margarine? I’ve been using a whey-free, vegan margarine in my dairy free buttercream, but it is definitely a softer consistency than a butter is… Thanks for the help! (PS PTP 7 person here)

    Reply
    • Hi, Kate!!

      Yes I mean margarine! In vegan circles it’s usually referred to just as “butter” and understood as meaning vegan butter replacement (margarine).

      Since a lot of margarines like to tout themselves as being “dairy-free” while still hanging on to dairy-derived ingredients, I don’t like to call it that.

      In regards to texture – it definitely is very soft in comparison to dairy cream butter. For frosting, I like to do 50% veggie shortening to firm it up a bit.

      Reply
    • Hello, I really want to try making these as cupcakes. Would I still bake them at 325? Do you think about 25 minutes would be good? Thank you

      Reply
  2. I really want to try this but I always struggle with US recipes.
    Has anyone made this using grams instead of cups? Im in the UK and when I Google flour conversions from cups to grams it ranges from 125g – 150g which will obviously have a massive impact on the cake!

    Reply
  3. Hi, I need to make a 12×12 birthday cake, probably 3 layers. Would you recommend using this recipe? If so, would I need to increase the quantities for each layer? Or follow the quantity for this recipe for each layer?
    Many thanks,

    Reply
    • Hi, Danielle!

      This should work just fine for your cake! I would adjust the quantity and bake each layer on its own (that’s what I do for anything larger than 10”, no matter the recipe).

      To make a 12” square cake from my recipe, I multiply the ingredients by 1.25 and bake at 310°F until it’s done – about 50-60 minutes, but do the toothpick test at 45.

      Reply
  4. Hello,

    Can’t wait to make this cake. I would like to make this in a 9 x 13 x 2 size sheet pan. How should I adjust the recipe to fit that size pan?

    Thank you,
    Shonda

    Reply
  5. U are just wonderful..God bless you, you have now totally solved my vegan chocolate cake problem..making this by weekend..😘 😘

    Reply
  6. Hi Meggan. What brand of cocoa powder do you recommend? I looked up Hershey’s special dark, but it has milk in it. I just want to try a vegan recipe, but don’t know much about it. Thank you

    Reply
  7. Hi there. I tried this cake as a GF cake as you indicate it would work anyway. I did this and while the cakes (2 layers) baked really well, without thinking and real level top (did not need trimming) I found them a bit rubbery and firm even though I used oil. I used the only GF flour I could find in the supermarket I normally go to. I had used this flour in another gingerbread cake and it worked well. I suspect it is possible that the blend of flours may not have been optimal (maize startch, modified starch (1422), rice flour, raising agents (450,500), soya flour-unsure of the proportions). What GF blend do you normally use? Thanks

    Reply
  8. This is THE BEST chocolate cake ever!!! I’ve made this so many times, sneaking vegan food to the none vegans without any questions! Everyone loves this! Thank you for such an amazing recipe!!

    Reply
  9. I’m planning on making this cake for my son’s birthday this week. Quick question, in your notes you mention to use oil for a fluffier cake. Which type of oil do you recommend? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi, Eva!

      Yes, oil will give you a fluffier cake for sure. I usually use vegetable oil, but whatever oil that is safe for you should work. Olive oil gives it a nice fruitiness, and avocado oil and grape seed oil also work really well.

      Good luck and happy birthday to your son!

      Reply
  10. Hello Megan,
    this is by far my favorite vegan cake. I usually bake it in 6 inch pans but I wanted to bake it in a bundt cake pan and just cover it in chocolate ganache glaze. Would this recipe work for that?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi, Denisse! I’m so glad you love this recipe!

      I have made it in a bundt pan and it came out lovely! I know this comment is from a while ago, so I hope you’ve found the same result since then. <3

      Reply
  11. Hi,
    Can I use this recipe for an orange flavour cake? Using orange juice and zest to flavour – omitting the cocoa…?

    Reply
    • Hi, Jen!

      I substitute the vinegar for lime/lemon juice, hot water for the coffee, and use lots and lots of zest.

      For the orange, lots and lots of zest, and use orange juice instead of coffee but reduce the sugar by however much is in the juice.

      And yes, of course omitting the cocoa. Unless you want an orange chocolate cake which is FANTASTIC. ❤

      I’ll be getting my “official” recipes for these up soon!

      Reply

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