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Depression Cake Recipe

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 8×8 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.

Depression Cake Photo

Depression Cake Recipe

Amanda Powell
Fluffy and chocolaty Depression Cake. This simple cake is a great weeknight dessert or indulgent breakfast.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9 1 slice
Calories 233.82 kcal


  • 1.5 All-Purpose Flour
  • 0.33 Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Baking Soda
  • 0.5 Salt
  • 1 Vinegar
  • 1 Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 0.33 Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Water


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


Calories: 233.82kcalCarbohydrates: 38.06gProtein: 2gFat: 8.16gSaturated Fat: 0.99gSodium: 269.39mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 22g
Keyword Baked, Baking, Cakes, Chocolate, Desserts, Family Meals and Snacks, Snacks
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