Depression Cake Recipe

Amanda Powell | A Cookie Named Desire

Fluffy and chocolaty Depression Cake. This simple cake is a great weeknight dessert or indulgent breakfast.

Depression Cake Photo

What is Depression Cake

Depression cake was created during the Great Depression in the early 20th century when rationing meant there was little to no eggs, butter, or milk to spare in households.

It is also known as War Cake or Wacky Cake.

Despite its minimal ingredients, Depression cake has a lot of flavor in each slice.

Since it is so easy to make and not as caloric compared to its layered cousin, it remains popular today as a weekday treat, midday snack, or more indulgent breakfast option.

Depression Cake Picture

Ingredients in a Depression Cake

Although rationing is no longer practiced today, the ingredients in a Depression cake remains the same.

You only need flour, baking powder sugar, salt, cocoa powder, oil, vinegar, and water.

To complete the cake, you may top it with a nice dusting of powdered sugar.

Many people also like to add a layer of chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting to their cake, but it is more of a modern-day adaptation as frosting would never be used when the cake was originally created during the Depression.

Depression Cake Image

Today, people also like to experiment with other ingredient additions.

Some people will remove the cocoa in favor of a more spice cake flavor profile by filling it with cinnamon, dates, raisins, brown sugar, and more.

Others will add in chocolate chips, butter, or nuts.

How to Make Depression Cake

The best part about Depression cake is that it is very easy and quick to make. It is the perfect beginner’s cake.

Many recipes have you create several wells in your dry mixture to add the separate wet ingredients.

I find you get the same results by adding all the wet ingredients at once into your dry ingredients.

To start making your Depression cake, you should grease and flour an 8x8 baking pan.

From there, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. To that, add the wet ingredients.

Mix everything until it is smooth. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

File 1 - Depression Cake

Is Depression Cake Vegan?

Yes! Traditional Depression cake is vegan.

There are no eggs or dairy products in this particular cake, so unless you are adding extra ingredients that are not in the recipe, this chocolate cake is completely vegan.

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Depression Cake Recipe

    9 Servings


  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 baking pan.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. Add the vinegar, vanilla, oil, and water to the flour mixture.
  4. Stir until smooth, or there are just a couple of small lumps.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly to the edges.
  6. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
  7. Cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar.



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Related Recipes:
Baking Recipes, Baked Recipes, Cake Recipes, Chocolate Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Snack Recipes, Family Meals and Snack Recipes
Recipe Yields:
1 cake
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Amanda Powell
Recipe Yields: 1 cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 slice
Servings Per Recipe 9

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 65
Calories 234

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g
  Saturated Fat 1g
Sodium 269mg
Total Carbohydrate 38g
  Dietary Fiber 1g
  Sugars 22g
Protein 2g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Amanda Powell

About Amanda

Amanda is well known for her blog, A Cookie Named Desire. As she should be, because baking is her thing! We're so glad she's a Baking Fanatic!

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