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Best Chocolate Cake Ever

A few weeks ago my son celebrated his birthday and this boy loves chocolate in all forms, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream (even at Baskin Robins where there are 39 different flavors!), so for his cake it was no surprise that he requested his favorite chocolate cake ever, strangely enough called Wacky Cake.

The first time I ever heard of this cake was a few years ago when my kids started school. They would go through the school menu and circle only certain days and begged to buy lunch on those days. When I looked, the common thread on each of these days was Wacky Cake. I figured it must be really good for them to be willing to eat cafeteria meatloaf or fish sticks just to get this cake. One day, I just happened to go have lunch with them on a Wacky Cake day and then I understood why they loved this cake. I was in love too. This was not the cake I’d imagined it might be, something to pique the kid’s interest, either with sprinkles or gummy worms on top. Oh no, this was a moist rich chocolate cake with the fudgiest icing and I had to figure out how to make this for myself.

When I looked it up on the internet I found several links for this oddly named cake. And what I found made me love this cake even more. Wikipedia states that “Wacky cake is a spongy, cocoa-based cake. It is unique in that like most pastries and desserts, no eggs or milk are used to make the cake batter. It is commonly believed Wacky Cake may have been created as the result of rationing during World War II, when milk and eggs were scarce. It has been said that the recipe was first created by Beatrice Fe O’Hearn, who has passed it down through her family and friends since the late 1930s.”

Well, Beatrice you are a genius. I mean really, just because you don’t have milk or eggs doesn’t mean you can’t have cake, right? This lady worked a way around it. So what makes it “cake like” then, you ask. Vinegar. Weird I know. I’m guessing that’s where it gets its name from.

So without further ado….

Wacky Cake
3 c flour
2 c sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 c melted butter
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 c cold water

4 Tbsp cocoa
1 stick butter
6 Tbsp milk
1 box powdered sugar (sifted if you don’t want it lumpy)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix first 5 ingredients together, and then add water, butter and vinegar. Mix only until blended. Batter will be thin. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes (or until center is cooked) in a 9×13 pan. (You can half this recipe and bake in a 8×8 or 9×9 pan.)

Make the icing. Bring cocoa, butter and milk to a boil. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat well and pour over hot cake. Top with pecans or sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool. You can make this with or without the icing. We usually go all out and make it with the fudgy icing, but it’s really good by itself. Not only is this the perfect cake when your out of milk and eggs, but it’s also great if your vegan, or if you just want a quick and easy homemade cake that will make everyone really happy.

Gretchen is happily married to the greatest guy (even her mom says she couldn’t have picked anyone better for her), and together they have three kids who hold her heart. After graduating from college she entered the Marine Corps and spent five years on active duty as a Communications Officer. After her first son was born, she left active duty and began taking even more pictures than before. After her second son was born she took a photography class at a local college and thus began a love of things behind the lens, mostly faces and feelings. You will find her trying to garden, in the kitchen, with a good book, behind the camera and hanging out with those she’s been blessed to call her family and friends.

About Bree

Bree is the founder and writer of, a recipe site that shares her love of cooking, baking, and entertaining with others. launched in February of 2010 as a way to merge Bree’s love of photography with her love of food, and share both with friends and family. Currently, Bree lives in the suburbs of Washington DC with her husband and 3 children.

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  • Dineen

    I really want to try this! :) Do you know how many cups of powdered sugar the icing requires? My supermarket only sells it in bags, not boxes. Thanks!!!

    • Gretchen

      Hi Dineen,
      Funny you ask because I’ve had to figure the same thing out before and I even have it written down on this recipe for the times I’ve halved it. A box of confectioners sugar is equal to about 3 1/2 cups. Enjoy!

  • Corie Livezey

    This is our absolute FAVORITE cake in our home. My recipe came from my grandmother and the only difference is that instead of butter I have oil in my recipe. It’s so much fun to have a “volcano” (baking soda & vinegar) in the mix when my four young boys are around to watch it being made. :)

    • Gretchen

      You’re right! I should have mentioned that it’s kinda like a cake and science project all wrapped in one. My kids love that part too!

      • Jane Munsey

        This was a recipe my mother-in-law gave me many, many years ago. You’re right it does sound “wacky” and I couldn’t believe it when she told me the ingredients. It is really delicious, thanks for reminding me, I’ll be making this soon!!!

  • Lesa

    We called this Crazy Cake. My mom made it so much that when I was in the 3rd grade and had to bring a recipe to make into a decopauged Mother’s Day gift, this was the recipe that I brought. That was about 35 years ago! I made it with my kids within the past year. Thanks for the fun memory!