Depression Era Chocolate Cake

Have you ever heard of a Depression Cake? I was looking for cake recipes recently, that didn't contain eggs or dairy, and this gem popped up. I love older recipes so I couldn't wait to find out more info about it's history.

Home Sweet Homestead: Depression Era Chocolate Cake

When the Great Depression hit America following the Stock Market Crash of 1929, families were forced to stretch their budgets and “make do” with minimal and cheap ingredients when it came to cooking. Dessert became a luxury for most, and depression cake was born. It was a more affordable alternative to other cakes that used milk, eggs, and butter.

Home Sweet Homestead: Wacky Chocolate Cake

I wasn't sure how this cake, which is also known as "War Cake" and "Wacky Cake" was going to turn out, but my daughter and I were willing to experiment and find out. And boy did it turn out! We were surprised at how moist and fluffy it was. My family made short work of polishing it off. I love simple, old-fashioned, frugal recipes like this. Now you don't have to let food allergies to eggs and dairy, keep you from enjoying cake anymore.

Depression Era Chocolate Cake


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup pure olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x8 baking pan. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the water, olive oil, and vinegar, and stir until well combined.
Pour cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Top with a little sifted powdered sugar, or your favorite frosting.

Serves 9

Notes: *For a larger cake, just double the ingredients, and bake in a 9x13 pan. Cooking time may vary.

*I haven't tried it yet, but I've read several reviews, where people have made this cake with a gluten free baking mix, and it turned out great. I'll be experimenting with that soon.

Recipe adapted from: The Vegan Version

Did you make this recipe? I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Or snap a picture and share it on social media with the hashtag #homesteadrecipes. I'd love to share your creation too!


  1. LOL - "depression cake"
    Actually here we call it "comforting cake"
    I like this cake :) I always prefer oil in chocolate cakes

    1. I agree Winnie, oil gives this cake a moist richness that is so good.

  2. Hi April,

    I love family recipes. They are the best kind and this chocolate cake sounds yummy!! Thanks for linking to our Tips & Tricks Party. Hope to see you again next week.

    1. I agree Patti. Family recipes that are handed down from generation to generation, and that have stood the test of time are the best in my book.

  3. I was delighted to make this recipe for the Secret Recipe Club this month April - it was a taste of home for me. Our roots run deep in Hoosier country and this was exactly the kind of dessert my grandmother used to make for us. Thanks for a fantastic recipe, a walk down memory lane, and a new dessert for my friends and family!! Hugs!

    1. So glad to hear you enjoyed this cake Jane. I still can't get over how you were raised here in Indiana too! Small world. :)


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