How to make an easy fancy cake

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What makes this treat “weird” is also what makes it super easy to whip up if you’re craving chocolate! Here’s how to make a quick fancy cake using pantry staples.

Wacky Cake deserves a permanent home in your recipe box. It is “wacky” because unlike traditional cakes, it is made without eggs, milk or butter.

What is Wacky Cake?

This sweet, moist, chocolatey recipe has been around since the 1930s, and was still popular a decade later, when staple foods like butter and milk were rationed during World War II. (It also has other names, such as Crazy Cake and Depression Cake). It’s so easy that my grandma made Wacky Cake for my grandpa almost every night!

Whip one up whenever you want a quick dessert or snack after school. It’s up to you how to decorate your extravagant cake: it’s beautiful with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar or swirls of homemade frosting.

How to make a weird cake

Wacky Cake Ingredients

Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

This The recipe was shared by Beulah Sak of Fairport, New York, who says this dessert is her favorite to bring to potlucks. It only takes 10 minutes to mix and 30 minutes to cook.


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Tools you need


Wacky Cake sifting flour

Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powderbaking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix the liquids

Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour the oil in one hole, the vinegar in the next and the vanilla in the last hole. Slowly pour cold water over everything. Mix everything together (or use a mixer) until everything is combined into a smooth and fine paste.

Step 3: Bake the cake

Wacky Cake liquid ingredients

Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Pour the pastry dough into the greased pan and spread to an even layer. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire cooling rack. When completely cool, dust the top generously with confectioners’ sugar.

Wacky Cake.toh.nancy Mock 5 Ad EditNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Cover any remaining Wacky Cake with plastic wrap or Bee wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. By the way, it tastes good even when it’s cold!

Quirky Cake Recipe Variations

Make a vanilla cake

To make a vanilla version of this easy cake, omit the cocoa powder and increase the vanilla extract to 1-1/2 teaspoons. (Here are some good ones vanilla substitutes in case you run away.)

Add Mix-Ins

Mix in 1/2 to 2/3 cup of extras like chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, chopped nuts or sprinkles into the dough just before baking. You can too it gives extra depth with coffee. Just replace part of the cold water in the recipe with strong coffee that has been cooled.

Wacky Cake with frosting and sprinkles

Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Top with Homemade Frosting

A dusting of confectioners’ sugar works beautifully on this cake, but you can also ice it with your favorite frosting. The sky’s the limit here: use a brown sugar-coconut frosting and a sprinkle of chopped pecans to make it easy. German Chocolate Cake. The taste of strawberry cream cheese it pairs so deliciously with the rich chocolate in the cake. And you can always double the chocolate indulgence by spreading it on some chocolate cream.

When fresh fruit is available, spoon it over a slice of Wacky Cake covered with fresh whipped cream. Or, serve slices with scoops of vanilla ice cream and a dash of hot fudge for Wacky Cake à la mode.

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Nancy Mock

Discover restaurants, taste bakery treats, find inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties – it’s no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the great outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and lots of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes on her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.