Hands down, this is the easiest chocolate cake on this planet, made with pantry staple ingredients! Super moist and fudgy, it’s made with no eggs, milk or butter! Vegan, Dairy-free, and Gluten-Free. This recipe is FOOLPROOF.
Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
Wacky chocolate cake, crazy chocolate cake, depression cake. Different name, same thing.
A moist and delicious chocolate cake made without the usual ingredients-
It’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and can be made sugar free.
I promise this doesn’t come from a box, but you’d never tell.
Why is it called a crazy chocolate cake, wacky chocolate cake and/or depression chocolate cake?
This chocolate cake recipe was developed during the depression era, hence the name ‘depression chocolate cake’.
At that time, ingredients like milk, eggs, and butter were hard to come by.
To combat this, they used cheap and budget-friendly pantry ingredients to produce an ultra moist and rich chocolate cake!
No fancy gadgets or kitchen equipment needed either- You don’t even need a mixing bowl- this cake can be made IN THE PAN ITSELF!
Saying that; I recommend using a mixing bowl, purely because the ingredients incorporate much better.
Seriously, no cleanup, kid-friendly, and perfect for those with dairy or egg allergies!
So…How does it taste?
For such a simple and easy chocolate cake, I’m not kidding when I say this- It is one of the BEST chocolate cake recipes I’ve ever made.
Taste-wise, it fits the bill. It’s sweet, rich and loaded with chocolate flavor in every bite.
Texture-wise, again, it’s great. Super moist on the inside, yet tender on the outside.
It reminds me so much of a classic chocolate mud cake, but so much easier to make!
The best part about it is with so many of us stocked with basic pantry staples– We CAN have cake!
How to make vegan chocolate cake from scratch
This moist chocolate cake is seriously foolproof- You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right now!
Be sure to read ahead and see any ingredient substitutions options tested.
- All-purpose flour– You can use regular all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour. I opted to use the latter, to keep this recipe gluten-free.
- Sugar– Any white sugar or sugar substitute works best. See notes below to keep it sugar-free.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder- To give it the chocolate flavor! For a darker flavor, use dark cocoa powder.
- Baking soda– To let the cake rise.
- Salt– Brings out the sweetness!
- Apple cider vinegar– Helps the cake remain moist while being fluffy and tender on the outside. It also acts as a replacement for eggs.
- Vanilla extract– A must for any delicious cake!
- Canola Oil– Replaces any need for butter- keeps the cake moist and rich.
- Water– Replaces any need for milk!
No fancy kitchen gadgets or mixers needed!
In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients and mix well. Then, you’ll want to create three caves (depressions) in the dry mixture. Add the vinegar in one, vanilla extract in the second, and the vegetable oil in the third. Pour the water over the entire mixture slowly. Using a whisk, whisk together the ingredients completely, until smooth and silky.
Then, you’ll transfer the chocolate cake batter into a square pan and bake for 27-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, frost the cooled cake.
Do I need to frost this cake?
Frosting is not necessary at all, but to me, a chocolate cake without frosting is not a real chocolate cake.
You have three options here-
- Coconut Cream frosting– Follow this recipe here for the chocolate frosting used. It only involves using coconut cream and chocolate chips.
- Homemade Applesauce frosting– This is my favorite chocolate frosting, and it’s secretly healthy too, made with applesauce!
- Homemade Nutella– Spread some homemade Nutella over the top, for a healthier frosting option.
Is this chocolate cake vegan and gluten-free?
YES! This simple chocolate cake is vegan, as it doesn’t contain any eggs or milk (or dairy!). Every single ingredient is suitable for a vegan diet.
This cake is ALSO gluten-free, as I used gluten-free all-purpose flour.
A delicious and EASY vegan gluten-free chocolate cake? I think so.
Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions
- All-purpose flour– You can use wholewheat all-purpose flour (wholemeal), but be wary it will be a little less moist. Oat flour CAN work, but it will not be anywhere near as moist (oats absorb liquids much more than flour).
- Apple cider vinegar– You can use white vinegar or even lemon juice.
- Canola oil– Any oil works, like vegetable, coconut, avocado oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.
- Sugar– White sugar works best, but you can use a mix of white sugar and coconut sugar or brown sugar. Avoid using all brown sugar, or you’ll have an overpowering molasses flavor.
Can I substitute the water with milk?
You can absolutely substitute the water with milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk etc.
However, it kind of detracts from the wacky cake…
Can I make crazy cake sugar-free?
If you follow a sugar free diet or what to keep this cake sugar-free, you can do that!
Simply replace the sugar with either monk fruit sweetener, swerve or any standard granulated sugar-free sweeteners (like Splenda or equal).
With that said, please be sure that the sugar-free sweetener you are using CAN be used in baking. Many brands generally have their standard range (for sweetening tea/coffee, etc) and a baking range (formulated specifically for baking).
Tips and Tricks for a PERFECT Depression Chocolate Cake
- Use a mixing bowl. I know the original chocolate crazy cake recipe calls for mixing it in the pan you want to bake with, but I find this sometimes leaves room for the ingredients not to mix completely.
- Do not overbake the cake. Remember, the cake continues to bake while it is cooling in the pan.
- If you choose to frost the cake, be sure the cake has cooled completely, otherwise, it will melt and drizzle off.
- If your flour is a little clumpy, sift it first, to ensure it will mix properly.
- This cake has no eggs, so if you underbake it, it will just be super moist (I often do this).
Storing Chocolate Cake
Wacky chocolate cake will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days, covered. However, if you frost the cake, it should be stored in the fridge. If refrigerated, it will keep fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Can I freeze the chocolate crazy cake? Yes, you can freeze the chocolate cake. I recommend you freeze the cake sans frosting, but do whatever works best for you. Place pre-sliced pieces of chocolate cake in a sealed container.
Frozen chocolate cake will keep fresh for up to 6 months.
How to thaw the chocolate cake- Either microwave it directly from the freezer (in 30-second spurts) or let thaw at room temperature.
More EASY recipes using pantry staple ingredients
- 2 Ingredient Dough Cinnamon Rolls
- No Flour Cookies (6 Flavors!)
- Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- No Flour Monster Cookies (4 Ingredients!)
- No Bake Oatmeal Cookies (3 Ingredients!)
Easy Chocolate Cake (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients and mix well.
- Form 3 caves (depressions) into the dry mixture. Add the apple cider vinegar in one, vanilla extract in the second, and the canola oil in the third. Then, slowly pour your water over the top. Using a whisk or spatula, mix all the ingredients together until smooth.
- Transfer to the lined pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, frost the cooled cake.