World’s Best Chocolate Cake (Wacky Cake)

by Julie Cohn
Depression Cake 3

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I know I know.  Proclaiming this as the world’s best chocolate cake is a bit presumptuous, but I’ve had many a piece of this chocolate cake over the years and can verify that it is, in fact, the best.  This is definitely a family favorite!  Easy to make, moist and chocolatey, and topped with a velvety cream cheese frosting.  Oh my!

Back during the depression and World War II era, eggs were hard to come by.  Several cake recipes were developed without eggs, and sometimes without butter.  This recipe, called Wacky Cake (or Depression Cake or Welfare Cake) was one of the more famous recipes from this time period.   My mom received this recipe from an old family friend, Mrs. McNair, back in the early 1970s and over the years it has become our extended family’s favorite cake.  It will quickly become your family’s favorite too!

World’s Best Chocolate Cake4
Yield: 9-10 slices

World's Best Chocolate Cake (Wacky Cake)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 28 minutes 25 seconds
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 53 minutes 25 seconds


A deliciously rich chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. It has no eggs in the batter so is perfect for those with egg allergies!


  • Cake
  • • 1 1/2 c. Cake Flour
  • • 1 c. White Sugar
  • • 5 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla
  • • 1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
  • • 6 Tbsp. Cooking Oil
  • • 1 c. Water
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • • 1/2 c. (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • • 1 (8 oz) Packages of Cream Cheese, softened
  • • 1 c. Confectioners Sugar
  • • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Make a small hole in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the vanilla, vinegar, cooking oil, and water.  Stir everything together until wet, but do not overbeat. Make sure there are no flour lumps in the batter.  The combination of baking soda and vinegar allows the batter to "bubble" and rise.

Pour into a greased cake pan.  Place in the heated oven and bake 25-30 minutes (a little less for cupcakes).  Test for "doneness" with a toothpick, if the toothpick comes out of the center of the cake clean, it is finished.  Set aside to cool, and then ice with the frosting.

Note:  This recipe is for an 8 x 8 size pan.  Double the recipe for a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 40-42  min.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Make sure the cream cheese is very soft before using it.  Cream together the butter and cream cheese until well whipped, then add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla until blended.  Frost the cooled cake and keep any remaining frosting in the refrigerator to spread on cookies or pumpkin bread.


Good for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 372Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 9mgSodium 244mgCarbohydrates 62gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 1gSugar 41gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 3g

All nutrition information is approximate.

A few notes:

  • The original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but we prefer the taste of grass-fed butter in our cake. 
  • This cake can burn easily so keep an eye on it in the oven. 
  • To make this a bit healthier, so 3/4 c. cake flour and 3/4 c. of white whole wheat flour
  • Use a whisk and smooth out the lumps from the cocoa before adding the wet ingredients.  
  • Keep the cake in the refrigerator (covered) to keep fresh, but remove from the fridge about 15 min before you are going to take a slice to allow the cream cheese frosting to warm up.  


Do you like this World’s Best Chocolate Cake (Wacky Cake)?  If you are looking for an even more decadent chocolate cake, check out my Wicked Chocolate Bundt Cake or Susan’s Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake with raspberry sauce!


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