Chocolate Depression Cake

Chocolate Depression Cake – A Nostalgic, Eggless Delight


During the Great Depression, people had to make do with the ingredients they had on hand, which often meant simple, affordable, and delicious recipes. One such recipe that emerged from that era is Chocolate Depression Cake. What’s unique about this cake is that it’s eggless and dairy-free, making it not only budget-friendly but also suitable for those with dietary restrictions. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and whip up this delightful, chocolatey treat that’s just as satisfying today as it was back then.


For the Chocolate Depression Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

For the Chocolate Ganache (Optional):

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Making the Chocolate Depression Cake:

  1. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease an 8×8-inch (20×20 cm) square or a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan. You can also line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
  2. Sift Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well to ensure they are evenly combined.
  3. Create Wells: With the back of a spoon, make three wells or indentations in the dry ingredients.
  4. Add Wet Ingredients: Into the first well, pour the white or apple cider vinegar. Into the second well, add the pure vanilla extract, and into the third well, pour the vegetable oil.
  5. Pour Water: Pour the 1 cup of water over all the ingredients in the bowl. Stir the mixture until the batter is smooth and well combined. Don’t overmix; just ensure there are no lumps.
  6. Baking: Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cooling: Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Creating Chocolate Ganache (Optional):

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the almond milk over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer.
  2. Place the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot almond milk over the chocolate chips and let it sit for about a minute. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted, and you have a smooth, shiny ganache.

Final Touch (Optional):

  1. Pour the chocolate ganache over the cooled Chocolate Depression Cake. Let it set for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Cook’s Notes:

  • Vinegar: The vinegar in this recipe acts as a leavening agent, so don’t skip it.
  • Dairy-Free Options: This cake is naturally dairy-free, but ensure that you use a non-dairy milk like almond milk for the ganache to maintain its dairy-free status.
  • Flavor Variations: You can add a dash of coffee granules to intensify the chocolate flavor or incorporate some chopped nuts or vegan chocolate chips into the batter for added texture.
  • Serving: Serve this cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of dairy-free whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite dairy-free ice cream for a delightful treat.

Chocolate Depression Cake is a testament to the resourcefulness of the past and the enduring appeal of simple, homemade desserts. Its fudgy, moist texture and rich chocolate flavor make it a timeless favorite for all occasions. Enjoy a slice of nostalgia in every bite. 🍫🍰

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