Vanilla Crazy Cake

This deliciously easy Depression era recipe makes a single vanilla cake layer and requires no eggs or dairy. It’s made with simple pantry staples and tastes terrific!

As promised, I’m delivering the vanilla version of the I posted last week. I’m just so pleased that many of you made the chocolate version and found it to be delicious and helpful during this time of scarce ingredients.

This vanilla version is just as simple as its predecessor. It’s a one-bowl wonder that whips up with no electric mixer and the baked cake keeps well at room temperature.

The flavor of this cake really depends on good vanilla extract, but you don’t have to limit yourself to vanilla! This cake would be wonderful flavored with citrus extracts, or you could literally spice it up with a tablespoon of pie spice for the world’s easiest spice cake.

The recipe as I’ve written it here tastes like vanilla birthday cake. I added a simple confectioners’ glaze made with powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract, and then tossed on some sprinkles for fun.

I noticed a few things that were different about this cake as compared to the chocolate version. The cake wanted to stick ever-so-slightly in the pan at the bottom center. I think next time I’d properly grease and flour the pan instead of just using cooking spray – so I recommend you do this from the get-go, or use a flour-based baking spray. I also found that the flavors of the cake improved overnight. The vanilla tasted creamier and had a much more pronounced flavor the next day.

Of the two ‘Crazy’ cakes, I think this one is more kid-friendly because of its mild vanilla flavor. And because it’s so simple to make, little ones could absolutely help add ingredients to the bowl, stir batter and add sprinkles – which sounds like sweet memories in the making to me.

Enjoy and be well, friends!

Yields one 8-inch single layer cake

Vanilla cake
1 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 cup water

1 cup (116g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used clear vanilla)
2-2 1/2 tablespoons water
      3 tablespoons sprinkles and one maraschino cherry, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 8-inch round cake pan, or use a square 8-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the vanilla, vinegar, oil, sugar and water. Whisk together until a smooth batter is achieved.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is slightly puffed and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and one tablespoon of water. Whisk until the water is absorbed and some dry sugary crumbles form; add a second tablespoon of water. Whisk until the mixture is thick and stiff, and holds in the balloon of your whisk. It should slowly fall into a ribbon back into the bowl from the whisk. If the mixture is too thick to fall, add water a little at a time until the correct consistency is achieved. This glaze should be thick.

Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and spread with a spatula. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles and a cherry on top, if desired. Store the cake in an air-tight cake keeper or in Tupperware for freshness.

Lemon: Replace the vanilla extract in the cake with 2 teaspoons of lemon extract; replace the vanilla in the glaze with 1 teaspoon lemon extract.

Spice Cake: To the cake batter, add 2-3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice. If you don’t have pie spice on hand, combine 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a bowl; add this mixture to the batter and blend well.

Tea Cake: Replace the water in the cake recipe with your favorite brewed tea, such as Earl Grey.

By Published:


Classic Hot Cross Buns

Cinnamon Jam Loaf