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Chocolate Crazy Cake

by on December 1, 2005 · 13 comments


Yesterday, a friend requested recipes for egg-free cakes. I suggested crazy cake. You’ve probably seen a crazy cake recipe before, perhaps under its alias of “wacky cake”. Or maybe you’ve seen its cousin, the non-chocolate version called Depression Cake. Crazy, Wacky, Depressed – the perfect cake recipe for the moody baker.

I can’t recall exactly when I last made a crazy cake, but I do remember having good results. I’ve always made my crazy cakes with plain old white vinegar, but this time I decided to try it with raspberry vinegar. Given my affinity for fruit/chocolate combos, I was very curious to see if a cake made with raspberry vinegar would actually taste like chocolate raspberries.

The recipe we used this morning was designed for an 8×8 inch square pan. Fuzzy enjoyed the process of digging and filling 3 holes and I appreciated not having so many dishes to wash. It was also fun to see how the baking soda reacted with the vinegar in the pan. It bubbled up as we stirred and had a light, frothy texture. It settled down a bit before we put it in the oven.

The time and money we saved making this quick little cake allowed us to be more creative with the frosting, so below is a streamlined version of a Cook’s Illustrated chocolate frosting recipe. It’s a very light, almost truffle-like icing that is very easy to make and open to many flavoring options.

This cake was so good. It’s one I’ll be making more often and one I’ll be experimenting with. The raspberry vinegar added a good deal of raspberry flavor (more than I expected) so the next time I make it I might actually kick up the raspberry theme and put raspberries on top or somewhere in the icing. Or maybe add a layer of preserves. And if I can get my hands on some cherry vinegar, imagine the possibilities in the Black Forest department!


Chocolate (Raspberry) Crazy Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (or raspberry vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready (don’t grease) an 8×8 inch pan.

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together in an 8×8 inch ungreased cake pan. Make three wells. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well. Pour cold water over all, and stir well with fork.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Frosting

1/3 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate — or semisweet
1/8 cup corn syrup, dark — or light
4 tablespoons butter — unsalted, cut into chunks, soft
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup confectioners sugar — might need more sugar

Place cream in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Transfer to bowl mixer. Let cool to room temperature (about an hour).

Add corn syrup and butter to bowl. Beat on low to mix. Add sugar and continue beating until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add vanilla.

Frosts an 8 inch cake.

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Published on December 1, 2005

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ms. Chevious December 1, 2005 at 5:52 pm

Is that a plastic fork Emma is using or do you just have “autumn harvest” flatware?

michelle December 1, 2005 at 8:11 pm

ohhhh yummy. The cake looks great! Good job Emma! Michelle

Michele December 1, 2005 at 11:11 pm

Ahhh! A blog after my own heart :) Love your recipes! I have tried the regular crazy cake before and raspberry sounds even better.

Anna December 2, 2005 at 7:52 am

Ms. Chevious, it’s a plastic fork leftover from the Halloween party we never had. Emma and I had decorated the whole house, dressed up like princesses, and baked dozens of complicated cookies for 32 friends. No one showed up.Just kidding. I just made that all up. The truth is, I just like eating cake with plastic forks. Michelle, I’ll tell Emma she did a good job.Chef Michele, thanks for stopping by! You blog is cool. I’m going to add a link.

amateur December 2, 2005 at 1:12 pm

that looks really delicious! I remember making this kind of cake as a kid too. For its simplicity, it really comes out tasting great

Anonymous July 20, 2006 at 4:02 pm

It is a “Depression cake” because you can make it without eggs, which were hard to come by during the Depression.

Tara January 20, 2008 at 4:32 pm

did you ever find cherry vinegar? The the black forest implications have my head in a whirl! =)

jane April 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm


I tried this recipe and tasted great.
It is a good size for a small family too.
I have a quick question, i tried to mix it well with a spatula, it was a messy, so i just used the mixer. Just the texture is a little sticky and dough like and there are little pellets left inside.what did i do wrong.
i don’t mind the texture a bit, it tastes great and no too sweet.


Anna April 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Hi Jane,

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong here. Maybe some of the sugar dissolved? I’m not sure.

If you liked this one, I would love for you to try the Troy Chocolate Cake. Another recipe on this blog which happens to be just the right size for a small family. I actually prefer the Troy cake to this one.

Wendy January 29, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I made a version of this cake for a friend of mine who is allergic to milk – we just topped it with powdered sugar instead of an actual “icing” … she LOVED IT.

She is a severe chocoholic – and she hadn’t had her chocolate fix since she found out her problem (recently). She had 2 pieces within the first hour – and she’s a little bitty thing :)

And it was really good – my 9 year old loved it too!

Hamideh August 31, 2011 at 4:16 am

Hi Anna,
I tried this cake,the taste was good but it doesn’t raise to much,only about 1 centimeter and also it was sticky and a little hard not to soft.
I used baking powder instead of baking soda and apple vinegar instead of white vinegar ,is it the reason of it?

Anna August 31, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hello there, Hamideh! Yes, I am positive the baking powder was the problem. Baking powder is acid and baking soda is alkaline. They’re completely different chemical leavening agents. Another thing you might have noticed was a metallic taste. Sometimes baking powder does that. So if you get a chance, try it with the baking soda and let me know how it goes. The vinegar swap wouldn’t have made a difference. I use apple cider in place of white all the time. Thanks for letting me know the issue. Hope you try it again! Another good and easy chocolate cake is the Troy Chocolate Cake.

Katrina February 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Look how cute and little Fuzz is in this picture! We have some frosting that needs used up (from the cupcakes I recently made) and I thought I’d let Taylor make a cake, so this came to mind since it’s so easy. ;) Although I wanted to make a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Have you ever made a yellow crazy cake? I’m tempted to try an experiment. I just found one on that has egg and milk and I might try that one and try yours but sub more flour for the cocoa and see how it comes out. See if my 10 yo is up for a throwndown. ;)

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