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!
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.
Watch Me Make It!
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Printable Recipe Card:
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.
- 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)
- Preheat your oven to 325F (162C)
- Prepare your cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment paper circles on the bottom
- Whisk together your flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl
- Create three deep wells in your dry mix
- To the first well, add your vinegar. To the second, add the vanilla. To the third, add the melted butter/oil
- Pour your hot coffee over the entire mixture
- Gently whisk or fold your batter until it's well combined and no dry bits remain
- Divide your batter evenly among your prepared pans
- Bake for 45 minutes or until you insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and it comes out clean
- Remove your cakes from the oven to a cooling rack. Let it sit in the cake pan for five minutes before turning it out.
*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.
57 thoughts on “Chocolate Wacky/Crazy Cake (one-bowl, vegan)”
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)
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.
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
I bake my cupcakes at 325, and start checking them around 17-18 minutes. Toothpick test tells me when they’re ready. 🙂
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!
I swear I’ve added the grams in at least four times already, but it’s still not there. Let me hop on my laptop and get those metrics up for you! My apologies!
I would love to make the cake. It looks amazing. Would you please share the recipe for the frosting ad well? Thank you!
The recipe for the frosting is https://www.cookingoncaffeine.com/easiest-vegan-buttercream-ever with Watkins caramel flavoring added (the one I had was artificially flavored, but it seems they don’t make it anymore, and I’m not sure if the naturally flavored on is vegan or not).
There you go, Ruth! It should be working, now. 🙂
Amazing!!! Thank you! Will be trying as soon as I get back from holiday!! I’ll fool all those none vegans at work 🙂 x
Can I use Dutch processed cocoaor not?
Yes, Dutch processed should work wonderfully. 🙂
If you still want a dark chocolate, but don’t want to use coffee, what else could someone use?
I would say your best bet is to add another 1/4c of dark cocoa powder and use hot water instead. 🙂
Is there a recipe for the frosting, thanks
My apologies, I found a link to the frosting in the comments of the Facebook post
You can also find it linked just above the recipe card in this post! <3
Has anyone tried making this in vanilla? I was thinking of using soymilk instead of water and omitting the cocoa. Adding another 1/2 cup flour, or cornflour to make it a bit lighter, to make up the dry volume.
I’ve tried making this in vanilla, and I didn’t like it at all. Lol. Some people love it, and I’m happy for them, but I am not counted amongst those. I’m working on a better vanilla version, though. 🙂
Have you tried it with coconut cream instead of the butter?
I haven’t, it’s not really an ingredient I have on hand.
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?
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.
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?
The recipe as is should fill your 9×13 perfectly. 🙂
You’re very welcome!
I’ve baked this a fair few times and sooo many compliments.
My most loved was chai tea in place of coffee.
This is an amazing recipe, thank you so much x x
Thank you so much for the lovely comments, Michaela! I’m so happy that you love it!
I’m making a one layer cake in a 9×13 inch pan – would vegetable oil be ok to use instead of margarine?
It absolutely will work! The cake will be amazing. 🙂
Thanks for this recipe! I’ve made it many times as cupcakes and everyone ALWAYS loved them! Combined with your meringue buttercream it’s simply a dream. Will be trying these gluten free soon too! Thanks Meggan!!
I’m so glad that you love it!! You’re welcome, and thank you so much!
U are just wonderful..God bless you, you have now totally solved my vegan chocolate cake problem..making this by weekend..😘 😘
I’m so glad I could help! Enjoy!
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
Hi there, I use the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder. It does not contain milk.
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
Meant sinking, lol. Would addition of xantham gum help? It was not really moist either. Thanks
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!!
Yay! I’m so glad you love it, Ruth! Thanks for the kind words!
The cake looks perfect and fabulous to bake for a special day. Yes, its definitely the best chocolate Cake. Lovely!!
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!
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!
I really, really hate coffee (weird, I know!). Is there any coffee taste to this cake?
There is not! The coffee magically transforms into chocolate flavor and just serves to deepen that profile. 🙂
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?
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
Can I use this recipe for an orange flavour cake? Using orange juice and zest to flavour – omitting the cocoa…?
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!
U are just wonderful 1 God bless you, you have now totally solved my vegan chocolate cake problem making this by weekend..😘 😘
Thank you for your Chocolate Wacky Cake. Really wonderful recipe. please tell me how to make Blueberry Muffin Cake please share the Blueberry Muffin Cake recipe.
Hi! I’m glad you love the whacky cake!!
As for the blueberry muffin cake, I don’t have a recipe for that yet. I can put it on the list to develop, though. 🙂
This cake was absolutely perfect. So decadent and definitely hit the spot.
Thank you for the review, Gabby! I’m so glad you liked it!!
I can’t find all of my wacky cake recipes, and was thrilled to find your recipe in my search for a vegan chocolate cake.
This baked up beautifully – was sturdy but with a tender crumb. Seriously one of the best chocolate cakes I have made in a long time. I am just upset I never took a pic of my cake after slicing!
Your buttercream with aquafaba is also amazing. Thank you so much!