This Wacky Cake recipe is a moist chocolate cake that dates back to World War 2. This chocolate cake is one that you need to keep in your back pocket because its so simple!
Gone are the days when I spent hours on a dessert.
Years ago (back before kids when I had this thing called “Spare Time”) it was not a strange occurrence for me to spend hours and days on a single dessert, testing my abilities and perfecting my techniques – like this Strawberry Fresh Frasier recipe.
Fast forward 9 years, 3 kids, and countless hours of missed sleep and some days its too much much to add water to a cup and microwave a brownie. Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL about the dessert – But I want it to be amazing and to be easy-peasy. Now a days quick desserts like these Twice Baked Honey Cakes or this Pumpkin Maple Gingerbread are more in line with what I like. Easy, minimal mess, excellent taste.
I stumbled across this easy cake recipe that dates back to ww2, I knew I had stumbled upon gold that I needed to share with you! If you are a fan of historical recipes, make sure you check out my Historically Hungry series, packed with fun historically inspired recipes from around the world.
What is Wacky Cake?
Wacky Cake is a fun and easy WWII era cake. It is also sometimes called “Crazy Cake”, “Joe Cake” or simple “WWII Cake”. This spongy chocolate cake is a unique cake recipe because it has no eggs, butter or milk in the recipe.
This historical cake recipe was created at a time when milk and eggs were scarce due to rationing. Forget “one bowl” recipes – this cake is a NO BOWL recipe because you mix it right in your cake pan!
You stir the dry ingredients right in the pan and then make three dents that you pour vinegar, vanilla and oil in the separate holes! I think this is such a fun and different technique that you don’t normally see, and it results in a really moist yet open-crumbed cake that is really lovely.
Because there are so few ingredients in this cake, using ingredients that are the best quality is important. Using a quality and flavorful vanilla extra is key to getting great flavor.
Why do you put coffee in chocolate cake?
You absolutely will not taste the coffee in this cake. Not even a little. So if you are not a fan of coffee, don’t despair!
The coffee works to enhance the flavor of the cocoa powder, so what you end up with is a more chocolatey flavored cake.
You CAN substitute the hot coffee for hot water in the cake, but it won’t be quite as rich and flavorful.
How to Make This Wacky Cake Recipe
This recipe is very simple to make! Here is a brief overview of the recipe to give you an idea of how it works. For the full set of directions and measurements, please make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below!
- Measure out the dry ingredients into an ungreased 8×8 cake pan or loaf pan and stir with a fork to combine.
- Create 3 wells or depressions in the dry ingredients, about 1″ apart.
- Add the vinegar into one well, the vanilla extract into a second well, and the oil in a third well.
- Pour hot coffee (or hot water) over the cake and stir with a fork to combine everything.
- Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven!
- Cool and enjoy!
You can serve this cake plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar (as is traditional), or with frosting. I choose to top it with an easy and quick blackberry frosting recipe that is perfect for spring. You could easily substitute the blackberries with strawberries or blueberries as well!
How Your Kids Can Help You Bake Wacky Cake
This Wacky Cake is a perfect recipe for kids to help you make! Here are some great age appropriate ways to get your kids in the kitchen with you:
- Kids aged 1 to 3 can help you measure everything, whisk the frosting together and help add sprinkles.
- Kids aged 4 to 6 can help do everything above, stir together the cake, and help make the frosting.
- Kids aged 7 to 10+ can help do everything above!
*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.
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Chocolate Wacky Cake with Blackberry Frosting Recipe
Chocolate Wacky Cake:
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup hot coffee or hot water
- ½ cup fresh blackberries
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Sprinkles for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In an ungreased loaf pan, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- Create 3 wells or dents in the dry ingredients. Add the vegetable oil in one dent, the white vinegar in a second dent and the vanilla in the third dent.
- Pour the hot coffee or hot water over the ingredients in the pan and stir to combine.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
- Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To Make the Blackberry Icing:
- Pulse the blackberries in a blender until pureed.
- Pour the pureed blackberries in a bowl.
- Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla.
- Stir in the powdered sugar.
- Frost the completely cooled cake and decorate with sprinkles.