This is hands down the easiest, no-fuss chocolate cake EVER. Assembled in the same pan you bake it in, this cake has no eggs, no butter, and no milk, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to already have all the ingredients on-hand. This vegan wacky chocolate cake is moist, fluffy, and topped with a fudgy chocolate buttercream for extra chocolatey-ness.
Growing up, this was literally the only cake my mom ever made up. I mean I truly don’t remember her ever making any other cake recipe, and I was perfectly content with that because this cake is seriously all you need.
Why is it called Wacky Cake?
This cake is naturally vegan, but it was created before that term even existed (Fun fact: the word vegan was coined in 1944. The more you know!). It’s wacky because it is made with no eggs, no milk, and no butter, but is still incredibly moist and fluffy, so you could never tell that it’s missing those ingredients!
My mom made a few adaptations to the recipe she was given 30 years ago, and I made a couple more tweaks to it, but until recently I had no idea about the origins of Wacky Cake.
It turns out, Wacky Cake is also known as Depression Cake because it was created during The Great Depression, when certain ingredients were scarce. Such an odd name for a delicious chocolate cake that brings so much happiness, so I’m going to just stick with calling it Wacky Cake.
How do you make a Wacky Chocolate Cake?
Making wacky cake is incredibly easy. All the ingredients are mixed right in the cake pan you bake it in, which means way less dishes (a baker’s dream), and it comes together in under 10 minutes.
This recipe is for an 8×8 square baking pan but if you are making it for a larger group it’s really easy to double it and bake in a 9×13 (baking time is roughly the same).
First, mix all dry ingredients in the baking pan until any clumps are gone, making sure to scoop around the edges and corners of the pan to mix everything well.
Next, you’ll make 3 wells in the dry mixture and distribute the oil and vinegar between the two. Finally, pour the water over the entire mixture and mix with a fork until fully combined, once again making sure to get right into the corners.
Fudgy Chocolate Buttercream
When I was a kid, my mom rarely put any frosting on this cake. It’s so delicious that it can easily hold its own. However, frosting on a cake is never going to NOT be delicious so now a-days I like to level it up a bit.
Topping this vegan chocolate wacky cake with extra fudgy vegan chocolate buttercream makes it a chocolate lovers DREAM. Yes, buttercream can be dairy-free and still taste exactly like the real deal!
Now, vegan butters on their own don’t easily hold their shape at room temperature, so this buttercream uses a mix of butter and vegetable shortening. I use a 2:1 butter to shortening ratio so that you don’t get that shortening taste.
This buttercream uses a full 1/2 cup of cocoa, which is what makes it extra chocolatey (I’m not complaining). If you’re looking to go the less chocolatey route, this cake also pairs really well with whipped cream or vanilla buttercream.
Can I use regular butter for the buttercream?
Yes! You can substitute regular butter and regular milk in the buttercream.
Can I freeze the buttercream?
The perfect buttercream to cake ratio is a very personal thing, and some people like to lay it on super thick! This recipe makes enough buttercream for a thick layer of frosting on the cake, but if you prefer a thin layer, you can halve the buttercream recipe or freeze the leftovers.
What I love about this buttercream is that it freezes perfectly. I have probably 5 containers of leftover buttercream in my freezer at any given time.
Freeze any leftover buttercream in an airtight container for up to 2 months and remove it from the freezer a few hours before you want to use it. Then, just give it a quick stir, and you’ve got smooth, fudgy, I-just-whipped-this-up buttercream.
How do I store this cake?
This wacky cake, like most chocolate cakes, is best enjoyed at room temperature, and the buttercream holds its shape and texture extremely well.
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Wacky Chocolate Cake with Fudgy Buttercream (Vegan)
This super moist wacky chocolate cake is so easy – its made in the same pan you bake it in! It’s topped with a smooth fudgy buttercream for extra chocolatey-ness.
- WACKY CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 1/3 cup + 2tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup cold water
- FUDGY BUTTERCREAM
1/2 cup vegan butter (or regular butter/margarine)
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp milk of choice ( if needed)
- WACKY CHOCOLATE CAKE
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In an un-greased 8×8 square baking pan, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix with a fork until any clumps are gone.
- With a fork, make 3 wells in the dry mixture*. Pour in oil and vinegar, distributing between the wells.
- Pour the water over the entire mixture and mix with a fork until fully combined, making sure to scoop the corners to get any remaining dry ingredients.
- Bake for 22-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
- FUDGY BUTTERCREAM
- With a standing or electric mixer, whip together the butter and shortening until smooth.
- Mix in the powdered sugar, then the cocoa powder until well combined.
- Add in the vanilla, followed by the milk. If the buttercream appears too thick, mix milk in a 1/2 tbsp at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. If it’s still too thick, add another 1/2 tbsp of milk.
- Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the icing on the cake using a spatula.
- It’s ready to eat! Slice smaller pieces if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge.
- *Creating 3 wells in the mixture: see pictures above for reference
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