This egg- and dairy-free cake won't require a trip to the grocery store—just to your pantry.

By EatingWell
April 27, 2020

This story originally appeared on by Alex Loh.

If your social feeds have been full of pictures of your friends making bread, you're not alone. Many people, finding themselves with extra time on their hands, have turned to their kitchens. Baking has become the go-to activity for people looking for a stress-relieving activity with delicious results. But if you've run out of ideas for your sourdough, consider trying a new baking project straight from the 1930s. (If you're out of yeast and hankering for carbs, though, turn to Navajo Fry Bread.)

The Depression cake, aka crazy cake and wacky cake, was created during the Great Depression when ingredients like eggs and dairy were often hard to find or unaffordable for the average American. This vegan cake—which is typically chocolate but can also be vanilla or filled with nuts and fruits—omits the egg and dairy products and instead relies on pantry-friendly items like oil, baking soda, and vinegar. (Check out these other vegan dessert recipes.) These ingredients will still produce a moist and fluffy cake when combined.

We talked to Jim Romanoff, EatingWell magazine's food editor, to help us understand how these ingredients worked as substitutes. According to Romanoff, eggs normally act as a leavening agent in a cake batter; i.e., they help the cake rise. But a combination of vinegar and baking soda can create the same effect, as the two will foam when mixed. (Remember those volcano science experiments?) Meanwhile, oil is an easy swap, providing a similar texture and consistency to what you'd get from butter. And the milk in a cake is simple to replace with water. (These vegan desserts will also satisfy your sweet tooth without dairy and eggs.)

With these simple, cost-effective swaps you'll still get the necessary chemical reactions to create a fluffy cake. The best part of this recipe is that you can make it directly in your cake pan, so there's less cleanup! (Check out these other one-bowl recipes.) So if you're looking for a new baking project or your grocery store is simply low on eggs, this Depression-era cake is the perfect treat.

Crazy Cake Recipe


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold water


  1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into a 9 x 13 inch ungreased cake pan.
  2. Make three wells. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well.
  3. Pour cold water over all, and stir well with fork.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Frost with your favorite icing.

This recipe was republished with permission from AllRecipes.


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