Chocolate Wacky Cake with Fudge Frosting

Chocolate wacky cake. Dense, rich, and loaded with chocolate! Also known as a “depression cake,” this cake contains no eggs, milk, or butter. It is also the first cake that I ever made from scratch.
It has become a tradition, starting sometime around my junior high years, that I make this cake for my mom’s birthday. When we were up at my parents this weekend, we had a belated birthday celebration for my mom, and I, of course, made this cake!

This recipe has been around for years, but I don’t actually know the original source of this exact recipe. In fact, when looking through my mom’s recipe box this weekend, I found a recipe from my grandma that was a little different than my mom’s.

The fudge frosting was a later addition, and I think it was originally called “No Fail Fudge Frosting.” That name fits. You can let it boil longer or shorter than the instructions, not beat it enough or too much, and you will still end up with a wonderful layer of fudge. Go ahead and give it a try!

Chocolate Wacky Cake with Fudge Frosting
Yield: 24 pieces


  • For the Cake
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 C unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 C water
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9×13 cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, soda, and baking cocoa into a large bowl. If you have a small sifter, just whisk the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until completely combined.
  4. Pour batter into cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove for oven to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When cake is cool, prepare frosting.
  6. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, baking cocoa, milk, and butter. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
  7. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and beat until glossy and frosting starts to thicken.
  8. Pour frosting over the top and smooth across top of cake with the back of a spoon. Frosting will harden as it cools, so it is important that you work quickly.
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  1. Um, wacky or not, I totally want to bury my face in it! Chocolate may not be my first pick (I’m a blondie/brown sugar girl!) but I cannot resist chocolate frosting, especially one as smooth and decadent as that! LOVEEEEE.

  2. Oh my good god! That is so cute, and neat! How did you cut your squares so tidy and neat?!

  3. I’ve heard of wacky cake. I’ll have to try this!

  4. I love a frosting without powdered sugar, definitely pinning this for future reference!

  5. I’ve never heard of wacky cake but anything without eggs or milk is good with me :) and I love fudge frosting so this on my things to make list :)

  6. I love how simple the ingredients are and how I have everything on hand! Fabulous! Have a great week!

  7. Aw such a cute tradition! I love how simple this is-it looks fab :)

  8. Wow, your chocolate cake and frosting look amazing, and must taste ever so delicious 😉

  9. The crumb on this cake is perfect and that’s without the eggs, milk or butter! Love the cute sprinkles on frosting – adorable :) Happy Birthday to your mom, sweet Jessica!

  10. It looks so cute! Those sprincles just make it look magic!

  11. I have always wanted to try wacky cake my friend – yours looks perfect 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. I love chocolate cake, but I especially love chocolate cake with sprinkles! So cute and so delicious!

  13. Like the name wacky cake over depression cake– and the sprinkles make it look so fun!

  14. This is one of my favorite cakes to make since my 4 y/o son is allergic to eggs. He LOVES chocolate, so this is usually his birthday cake! This recipe calls for a lot less oil, so I am going to give it a try the next time I make it.

  15. I’ve never tried this kind of cake but I love that I could make it even when I run out of eggs and butter!

  16. I love tradition recipes – and I’d looooove to try this cake !:)
    The frosting is familiar to me though
    I’m pinning this

  17. This looks mighty delicious. My birthday is coming up. Maybe I can get my husband to make me this…no fail frosting after all.

  18. Love sprinkles on cakes! Instantly festive.

  19. Yay sprinkles and chocolate cake!

  20. oh my, this looks super delicious!! anne

  21. Thank you so much for sharing at Weekend Potluck! I featured this one over on facebook. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

  22. Vinegar in cake! I guess this is what makes it wacky! I love how perfectly cut your piece is…good job.

  23. attractive cake with gud topings..lovely

  24. Oh sweet chocolaty Love! I so want a piece of this right now. Pinning for sure :)

  25. Wacky cake brings back SO many memories for me! My sister always made me a pan full when I babysat for my nephew. Hers had some sort of amazing white glaze on the top though. Regardless, this looks AWESOME!

  26. Are there really only 3 Tbsp oil in the cake? I use the same recipe (called Crazy Cake) but it calls for 3/4 cup oil!If I could get away with 3 Tbsp, that would be amazing!

  27. This is one of my favorite cake recipes and have made it for over 50 years. The only difference is that my recipe calls for 3/4 cup oil and 2 tbls. apple cider vinegar. Try adding chocolate chips to the batter.
    Also, my recipe says not to bake in a round cake pan as the cake will not bake in the center. I have tried baking in the round cake pan, and the middle did not get done but if you bake cupcakes, they are OK.

  28. I had a recipe like this awhile ago but I was a little afraid to try it. If this is something you think is yummy, I am totally going to try it :)

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