It is said that the original recipe for “Chocolate Wacky Cake” surfaced during WWII, when certain supplies and ingredients were in short supply.   Why is it called “Wacky Cake?”  Because of the way it is mixed together.

Chocolate Wacky Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 rounded tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar.
  • 5 tablespoons melted shortening (e.g. butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a baking dish (~ 9×13 inch ), whisk together first 5 ingredients.
  2. Make three wells in the dry ingredients.
  3. In one well add 1 tablespoon vinegar.
  4. To the second well add 5 tablespoons melted shortening (e.g. butter).
  5. To the third well add 1 teaspoon vanilla (add more if you like).
  6. Then pour 1 cup of cold water over the entire dish and stir until well mixed. (Note: some folks have reported that they’ve substituted milk for the water)
  7. Bake in the same dish in a 350 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Note: While the original recipe states a 30-minute baking time, use your judgement according your oven (it could end up taking only 20 minutes).
  8. Cool the cake before topping with your favorite chocolate glaze/frosting, etc.

As wacky as it sounds … this super-simple recipe yields a moist, not-too-sweet chocolate cake. However, if you have a real sweet tooth, you may want to add your favorite chocolate glaze or frosting on top.

Photo: Elaine Ashton under a Creative Commons Liscense