Chocolate Great Depression Cake

July 28, 2013
1 Ratings
  • Makes one cake
Author Notes

In the Depression, families sent many of their goods overseas leaving little for themselves. This did, however, spawn an incredible rush of recipes that took great advantage of this — Chocolate Depression Cake has no eggs, milk, nor butter so not only is it easy to make but cheaper too! This recipe is an inspired version of Sweet Little Blue Bird's Crazy Cake with everything adjusted for a larger and more fulfilling cake. —Deactivated

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 10 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. In a bowl mix your dry ingredients well.
  3. Make 3 depressions in the dry ingredients - two small, one larger. Pour the vinegar in one small depression, the vanilla in the other — vegetable oil in the largest.
  4. Gently pour the water over everything.
  5. Mix well until smooth, gently folding the ingredients into one another.
  6. Pour into a circular springform 9 inches in diameter and 3 inches in height.
  7. Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 35 minutes. After the time has elapsed, check with a toothpick and place back in the oven in five minute intervals if necessary.
  8. Cool the cake and frost if desired.
  9. If you do frost, I would recommend only along the edges of the top and along the tops of the sides. The nature of the cake is to be quite dense, and though decadent it will fall slightly in the centre — frosting will make the cake fall more and cause it to be quite mushy. Discretion is advised.

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1 Review

judy February 14, 2023
I recently discovered, after many years of finding I could not eat a variety of baked goods, that what I don't tolerate is the combination of baking powder and flour! I had just about figured this out when I came across this recipe. I read through the ingredients, and found no baking powder. I made it, and amazingly, I had not allergic reactions of any kind. I was delighted. It is a delicious cake. As is. But I never leave anything as is. So after making a couple of times, I started making variations on it. first of all, I cut the recipe in half, as there are only two of us. No. problem. It is rather sweet, so I reduced the sugar by 25%. Still plenty sweet. Then I made 1/4 of the flour whole wheat pastry flour. Still excellent. Next add ins: chocolate chips, dried cherries and coconut. Wow!. Toasted walnuts and chocolate chips. Yes! The next thing I did was change up the water for some buttermilk I had leftover. Great! a little more tangy. I have since used greek yogurt, regular milk, coconut milk and sour cream for as much as half the water. The cake is a little richer. Finally, I have replaced 1/2 of the oil with applesauce. All these variations work. And work well. the cake is moist, delicious, tender, and flavorful. speaking of flavor, I have enhanced the vanilla with orange extract, or added coffee crystals as well. So good. I am not into frosting, so never frost. And this cake is so moist and chocolatey that I don't think it needs it. I want my cake and diet, too. And wanting a vanilla version, I found that I could replace the cocoa powder with flour, and then proceed with adjustments as suggested here, as well as a few others: Variations on spices, orange or lemon zest and 1/4-1/2 the water replaced with orange or lemon juice. I still have yet to try and make a key lime version. One day I was wanting a coffee cake: I chopped some apples finely, added some spice (anise, cinnamon, ginger) and brown sugar. Made the vanilla version. Put half in my pan, covered with a layer of spiced apples and brown sugar, rest of the batter, then a sprinkle of strusel: ground oats, spice, brown sugar and a bit of flour. Wonderfully rich coffee cake. Made with sour cream, and it is Devine. So this is one versatile recipe. I will keep trying all kinds of variations to suit my cravings. But the basic takeaway is that baking soda and vinegar are a simple replacement for baking powder. My next effort: toe see if this can be done to make baking powder biscuits! I wonder what I would call them if it works? Baking vinegar biscuits? Have fun.What variations would you come up with?