Back to top
Chocolate Cake in square pan - depression era cake

This cake may not cure your depression, but we hope that it brightens your day! This unique Chocolate Cake recipe was popularized during the great depression when fresh food ingredients (like milk and eggs) were in limited supply; it is rich and chocolatey without using any eggs, butter, or milk! A cake without butter?? That's right just add any neutral-flavored cooking oil and you’re all set. Choose avocado oil as your neutral oil for a boost of healthy fats! 

9 Servings
Preparation time
10 minutes
Cooking time
35 minutes
Total time
45 minutes
1 ½ C all purpose flour
1 C granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
C unsweetened cocoa powder
C canola oil (or substitute cooking oil - *see note)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or substitute any light vinegar)
1 C water
1 ½ C powdered sugar
¼ C cocoa powder
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder until well combined.

2. Add 1 cup water to a liquid measuring cup, then add the vanilla extract and vinegar to the water.

3. Add the oil to the bowl of dry ingredients, followed by the water mixture. Stir until the chocolate cake batter is mostly smooth. Make sure no dry flour remains on the bottom of the bowl.

4. Pour the cake batter into an 8x8" or 9x9" baking dish. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake the cake for 35 minutes.

Chocolate Icing:

1. If using the chocolate icing, let the cake cool for at least an hour after baking before adding the icing.

2. After the cake is cool, prepare the icing. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract to a bowl. Begin adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it forms a thick but pourable icing (about 3 Tbsp total). If you let the icing sit, it may begin to dry, but you can add a splash more water to make it moist again.

3. Pour the icing over the cooled cake and spread until the cake is evenly covered. Slice the cake into 9 pieces and serve.

Per Serving (1 slice)- Calories: 242,  Saturated Fat: 1.2 g , Sodium: 271.5 mg,   Sugars: 22.4 g 



*Neutral cooking oil of your choice: vegetable, grapeseed, corn, or avocado oil.
**Any light vinegar will work, like white vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.