This vintage cake recipe requires no eggs, milk, or butter, and instead relies on pantry ingredients for its success. Make it when you’re fresh out of fresh ingredients!
Hello friends! I hope everyone is navigating this strange season of life with hope and optimism. Since baking is my happy place, I’ve been making small batches of essentials I know we’ll eat up with no waste ( are next for breakfast!). I’ve also been cleaning my kitchen and taking pantry inventory. My husband and I have made the decision to self isolate and make the best of what we’ve got on hand for as long as possible.
That’s why this recipe is so timely! It requires nothing from the refrigerator and whips up by hand – you won’t even need an electric mixer.
The recipe has roots from The Great Depression, when ingredients like butter and milk were expensive or heavily rationed. It goes by a few names you may recognize – ‘Wacky’ Cake, Poor Man’s Cake, or Depression Cake. There’s a vanilla version floating around in my recipe folder that I plan to dig out and share soon.
The glaze is my addition to the cake. It relies on pantry staples also, and really makes this cake decadent. I added pecans and flaky sea salt on top because I have plenty on hand, but you could use practically anything – peanuts, baking chips, dried fruit, seeds, pretzels – you name it!
A single layer cake like this is plenty for our small household, and stored air-tight the very last slice is still fresh 5 days later. Making this recipe is a great way to have comfort food while conserving your more perishable ingredients.
8 servings, yields a single 8-inch cake layer
1 1/2 cups (180g, or 7 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (28g) unsweet cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweet cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa)
2-3 tablespoons brewed coffee or water
Chopped nuts and flake sea salt, *optional
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan, or an 8-inch square pan.
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the vanilla, vinegar, oil, granulated sugar and water. Whisk together until well combined. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
For the glaze, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa in a large bowl. Whisk in coffee or water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze is smooth and pourable.
Place the cake on a rimmed serving plate and pour on the glaze, allowing the glaze to drip over the sides. Top with chopped nuts and flaky sea salt, or use whatever delicious thing that inhabits your pantry. Dried fruit, pretzels, crumbled cookies are all good choices– anything goes!
Store cake at room temperature in an airtight cake keeper or Tupperware for freshness.