If your social feeds have been full of pictures of your friends making bread, you're not alone. Many people, finding themselves with extra time on their hands, have turned to their kitchens. Baking has become the go-to activity for people looking for a stress-relieving activity with delicious results. But if you've run out of ideas for your sourdough, we have your new baking project, straight from the 1930s.
The Depression cake, aka crazy cake and wacky cake, was created during the Great Depression when ingredients like eggs and dairy were often hard to find or unaffordable for the average American. This vegan cake— which is typically chocolate but can also be vanilla or filled with nuts and fruits—omits the egg and dairy products and instead relies on pantry-friendly items like oil, baking soda and vinegar. (Check out our other vegan dessert recipes.) These ingredients will still produce a moist and fluffy cake when combined.
We talked to Jim Romanoff, EatingWell magazine's food editor, to help us understand how these ingredients worked as substitutes. According to Romanoff, eggs normally act as a leavening agent in a cake batter; i.e., they help the cake rise. But a combination of vinegar and baking soda can create the same effect, as the two will foam when mixed. (Remember those volcano science experiments?) Meanwhile, oil is an easy swap, providing a similar texture and consistency to what you'd get from butter. And the milk in a cake is simple to replace with water.
With these simple, cost-effective swaps you'll still get the necessary chemical reactions to create a fluffy cake. The best part of this recipe is that you can make it directly in your cake pan, so there's less cleanup! (Check out our other one-bowl recipes.) So if you're looking for a new baking project, or your grocery store is simply low on eggs, this Depression-era cake is the perfect treat. Get a recipe for Crazy Cake from our sister site AllRecipes.