These were amazing – nice dark color, perfect texture and great flavor!!
Hi, haven’t made these yet, wanted to know if i can substitute the vinegar for something other than eggs. Thanks!
Hello Tritia, this recipe needs to be followed rather precisely. There is no substitute for the vinegar.
It didnt rise at all.
Hi Becky, if it didn’t rise, the likely culprit is your baking soda. That’s the only leavening in the batter. If it is too old, it will not react with the vinegar to form the bubbles you need for the cupcakes to rise. To check your baking soda, put a little in a small bowl, dribble some vinegar over it. If it foams up like crazy, it’s good. If not, it doesn’t work and should be replaced.
hi elise could i add eggs if i wanted to and if i did how many would i add?im 15 and baking is really fun to me.
Hi Dina, I’ve tried adding an egg to this recipe and the result doesn’t taste nearly as good! I would stick to the recipe as written. I’m so glad you like to bake!
Best cupcakes ever! Has anyone tried using a gluten free flour? Just curious if they turned out good.. thanks!
I’ve been craving for chocolate cake for a couple of days now, so I decided to just bake some at home. Too bad I ran out of eggs, which was actually a good thing ’cause it led me to your egg-less recipe. I’m so happy your recipe yielded excellent cupcakes at first attempt! Fluffy like pillows! :D
Great Angelica, I’m so glad you liked them!
No no no–these are vegan! I spaced out and made these thinking the reviewers knew what they were talking about. You cannot make decent cupcakes without eggs! They are not fluffy but stodgy. I grew up baking and should have known better–next time I wil use the tradiational recipe with eggs. This is fine if you are vegan…
Hi KB, I’ve only had excellent results with this recipe. Even tried adding an egg to it and I much preferred the eggless version. Sorry it didn’t work out well for you.
I tried this recipe as my first trial on my new oven. It turned out moist and super delicious. Will try it again as cake for the upcoming mother’s day. This recipe is super recommended. Thanks for sharing :)Can you recommend some frosting recipe that will be perfectly partnered with this when I make a cake?
i made these as my first baked treat from scratch. though i used vegetable oil, pungent vinegar, iodized salt and low quality cocoa powder, they still turned moist as promised! i didn’t expect much since this recipe was eggless and my batter smelt vinegar-y. i added chopped dark chocolate to my batter. i also topped some with a marshmallow and put it back to the oven to melt. i even topped some with nutella and some with just powdered sugar. my mom and grandma said they tasted like they were from a popular local bake shop and my uncle thought it was made from a betty crocker mix. to me, these were nothing groundbreaking, but for the number of ingredients that were readily available, (plus a very inexperienced baker) these were pretty tasty.
Hi Elise….tried this recipe for 8″ cake and it turned out absolute yummmmmm…..being egg less I never expected it turn out so good. Just loved the texture, loved the taste, loved everything about the cake.DO u have any egg less recipe for vanilla cake as well or should this recipe work fine if we replace the cocoa with same amount of flour and omit the coffee and just keep the warm water ? I am a vanilla cake challenged person :(
Hi Kizhi, I’m so glad you like the cake! I don’t yet have a vanilla version, great idea though!
Thank you for this recipe; made it twice this week, and it is fabulous! I did pair it with a different buttercream, but nevertheless this cake recipe is now my favorite and may be making it more often from now on!
Hi, I tried these cupcakes yesterday and they turned out super soft and amazingly yummy. For the next time I was just wondering if I could replace the olive oil with unsalted butter. Will that work? My kids love the taste of butter. How much butter should I use instead of olive oil?
Made these cupcakes last year for my daughters gala day and they were an absolute hit!I changed out the olive oil for canola oil and honestly didnt notice a difference with the taste (my 1st batch i made using olive oil but ran out so used canola for my 2nd,3rd & 4th batches)Cupcakes were soooo moist and yummy!Thanks Elise!
Hi Elise! Just wanna ask if I can use sweetened cocoa? Coz i still have some of it. Thinking if I can use it for this recipe. Thank you. God bless
Hi Sandra, not really, not with this recipe. You would have to figure out how much of the sweetened cocoa is cocoa, and how much is sugar, and then sort out from there how you get to the amounts of unsweetened cocoa and sugar are in the recipe. It would be easier to do a search online for a recipe that used sweetened cocoa.
Thank you Elise! I already cooked some of this and it was perfect. I used unsweetened cocoa coz it was easier. Thanks alot and God bless. do you have other flavor recipe cupcake as easy as is this recipe? Thank you
Made it many times and the results are all the same. Delicious and moist.
Hi Elise, is it okay to use vegetable oil rather than olive oil? Thankyou.
Hi Dana, it should work. Just taste test the veg oil first to make sure it isn’t off.
Okay Elise, thankyou so much.
Has anyone tried freezing these? How did they turn out?
Is it okay if I subtitue the olive oil with cooking oil?
It all depends on the cooking oil and how good it tastes.
Hi..Elise..i am an amateur baker..baked these because of Christmas eve..wowit turned out to be hit. Though initially the batter was little thick but added milk and little water…superb turned out yummy and super moist…thnx
I’m so glad you liked them Uma!
Do you have a vanilla version of this?
I’ve made the chocolate one several times and love it!! Thanks so much for sharing!!
Hi Lauren, I don’t, but it is on the list of things to work on. Thanks for the encouragement!
Hi!Does the coffee have to be fresh or hot? Will day old coffee work? TIA
Hi Sheila, day old coffee will work fine.
I made these by following the EXACT instructions and quantities of the recipe, step by step. The cakes turned out … GROSS. Waaaay too soft, more like a wet sponge than a cake.. I didn’t use anything different to the recipe, everything was respected to the letter. The texture was awful and didn’t even come out of the mold properly (I tried putting them back in for another 5 min of baking but same result!) and the taste… well…. honestly it wasn’t even nice! Chocolate didn’t come out much at all .. All round : YUK and what a waste of time and ingredients.There is no secret, guys. If you really want GOOD cakes, you need to use ingredients that have been proven to work for decades/centuries. Eggs are essential. I agree butter isn’t necessary, it can easily be replaced.. but those cakes without eggs are just plain gross.Sorry but I will at least have tried and done it exactly like it said on the recipe.
For those who are fortunate enough to not have an egg intolerance or allergy: definitely avoid these and choose a regular recipe including eggs.I’m half French, so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to cooking and food – I’m a chef. This is not a good recipe. Sorry, mate.
Hi Juliet, I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience with the recipe. But before condemning it, I would ask yourself why dozens of people here commenting have had wonderful results from the recipe and you haven’t? This is one of our favorite recipes, we make it all the time with fabulous results. It is also a classic recipe. Just Google “wacky cake” and you’ll see.
I haven’t tried making these cupcakes yet however, I was looking for a recipe for chocolate cupcakes and this is 1 of 2 to which I narrowed the choices. The other is a recipe I just saw on the America’s’s Test Kitchen website. Interestingly the recipes seem to be just about the same. The ATK recipe calls for vegetable oil vs olive oil, but that is hardly a huge difference. However, the other uses bread flour vs AP flour. Their reasoning is that the gluten in the bread flour keeps the cupcakes from becoming too crummy (as in turns into crumbs rather than staying together like it should). And the final difference is that they use eggs. They also say that since the recipe was created from “tweaking” a cake recipe, the vinegar is used to replace buttermilk that was apparently used in the cake recipe, I may not be explaining it right, but anyone can check it out. Oh, and they also fill theirs with chocolate ganache. But the “cupcake” part of the recipe is where I saw the similarities. I am wondering why you think that they are so similar. I am new to the culinary world and this is my first foray into baking other than the brownies I started making when I was in high school. So I am interested in finding out as much as I can about why certain baking recipes create moist delicious cakes/cupcakes and others don’t. Can you help me with that?
Wow! I was trying my hand at baking and these turned out very well…even for me! The second time I made these I topped them with whipped cream frosting and they are too good. Thank you so much for this recipe!
These are really good even though the frosting tasted kinda too sweet for me! Besides that I think it is a keeper! My kids loved it!
Hello, i want to use a silicone round mold to make this into a cake. What do you suggest should the oven temperature be? And for how long ? Thank you
I made these cupcakes today, they turned out great. So happy with the recipe, thanks for sharing such lovely and easy recipe.
My mother made this cake for us. We call it Crazy Cake. She found the recipe in a Childcraft magazine in the 50s. It was ideal for our family as I was allergic to milk and my dad was allergic to eggs. Later my daughter at college found it ideal to take to potlucks that vegans attend. My mom made it without the coffee, and it turns out fine. You can substitute an equal amount of your favorite liquor for the vanilla; Kahlua goes well if you use coffee, the same with Bailey’s, and Cointreau or Triple Sec if you want a citrus flavor. I have substituted a dark beer like stout for half of the coffee and it turned out fine, but one could not taste much of the beer. It is hard to fail with this recipe.
Hi James, great to know the recipe is so flexible!
Look amazing. Would be even better if dairy free, egg free and gluten free? Can you use almond flour for example? Solve so many issues at birthday parties. Tnx
Hi Elizabeth, I haven’t tried making it with almond flour but the idea is intriguing. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you!
I used 1 to 1 baking flour today and it turned out amazing! I live that it is allergy free just replacing the flour
Great! Good to know it works with that flour.
Hi elise i have an hershey liquid chocollate. Can I use it instead of cocoa? If I use different oil what difference will it make ? Thanks I’m a newbie baker
Hi Louchie! I want to say no, you can’t substitute cocoa with hershey liquid chocolate. That’s too big of a change to make and expect the result to be the same. That said, I haven’t actually tried doing it. I think it might be something to experiment with. But if you are a newbie baker, the best thing to do is to follow a recipe exactly, that way you will be more likely to have a result that you like.
Making these for the first time and cant wait for them to get out of the oven!!!! I ate up all the batter left in the dish and it tasted divine!!!!! The coffee and chocolate leave an almost toffee like flavour in my mouth!!! yummy!!!! Thank you for the recipe!!!!
Hello, can I use Canola Oil instead of olive oil?
Sure, as long as the canola oil is fresh. Canola oil goes rancid rather quickly.
I just baked the cake and after refrigerating it over night, I was able to cut it perfectly and easily to make an additional layer :)
I love this recipe! It’s become my staple! I do have a question though: When using this recipe for a cake, can the cake be cut horizontally to create an additional layer? I’m worried that the cake won’t be firm enough to survive in one piece because its quite light and fluffy. Does anyone have experience with using this recipe and cutting horizontally? Thanks!!!! :)
I use coconut oil instead of olive oil, it is delicious. This is my go to recipe now for cake. Easy, moist and comes out perfectly every time!
can the white vinegar be omitted. And i dont find any eggs in this recipe. will that make a difference
Hi Maliha, the beauty of this recipe is that all of the leavening comes from vinegar and baking soda, not eggs. This combination is what makes this particular recipe work. So, for this recipe, no, you cannot omit the vinegar, and yes, there are no eggs.
This cake has a distinct oil smell. the vanilla flavor hasn’t helped much. I didn’t have coffee powder. I didn’t use it at all. Did that matter?
Hi Niktia, a light olive oil will probably work best in this recipe or any baking recipe that calls for oil. Sometimes the heavy extra virgin olive oils can be too strongly flavored for baking. Coffee powder will help intensify the chocolate flavor, so yes, it does make a difference.
This is an easy one. Thanks for the recipe. I did the exact procedure the cupcakes tasted like there was no sweet at all. Coffee taste dominated mine. Also the cupcakes were a little gooey on the bottom. What should I do to make it better next time?
Hi Sailaja, there’s a whole cup of sugar in the recipe so sweetness shouldn’t be an issue. The problem could be your type of coffee. American coffee is typically very light compared to coffees that are served in other parts of the world. I would just reduce the amount of coffee to a quarter of what the recipe calls for, and replace the remainder with water. If the cupcakes were gooey at the bottom it could be your oven temp is off or it doesn’t heat evenly.
Can I use baking powder instead of baking soda
If you substitute the baking soda with baking powder, you will need at least twice as much. Given that there is no egg in the recipe, I would go with 3 times as much. Make sure your baking powder is still good or it won’t work at all! To test, put a little in a small bowl. Drip some water over it. If it foams up, it’s still good. See more info about this here: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/the_difference_between_baking_soda_and_baking_powder/
If I use Canola oil instead of olive oil will that make a difference to the texture of the cupcakes?
Hi Hamna, switching out the oils shouldn’t make any difference to the texture.
Hi Elise, I tried this recipe and the cupcakes turned out to be perfect. Just that after a while when I left them in open air(basically in the lounge) they dried too quickly and became hard. Perhaps I should have kept them somewhere else? I don’t know. Plus I felt that the sugar was a little less if we decide to eat them without the frosting. Otherwise, they were perfect.
Is Granulated sugar normal white sugar in New Zealand?
Hi can i do this recipe wth self-raising flour ??plse help me … Im exicited to do .
Im planning on making chocolate cupcakes for children this Easter. What would I substitute the coffee with? Don’t want them to be even more hyper than the sugar will make them, especially because they are not my kids! ;)
Hi Michele, You can leave out the coffee and use water instead or just do what I do, use decaffeinated.
My son and i love these cupcakes…i was wondering if you have a suggestion on turning this into a whole cake recipe?
could i leave out the cocoa and use water instead of coffee to make vanilla cupcakes with this recipe?? I loved how the chocolate ones turned out!
Hi Jen, I’ve thought about doing the same thing and haven’t tried yet. If you do, please let us know how they turn out!
Hi!..I’ve been making these cupcakes and they turn out great each time. I was wondering if I could add some dried cherries into the batter, just to give it a different twist. Since the cherries are dried, I’m concerned that they might absorb the moisture and result is dry cupcakes. Any advice/tips you can share would be highly appreciated.
Hi Grace, I suggest soaking the dried cherries in warm water for an hour first (or brandy).
Hi, Elise! I’m making my third batch right now as of this writing. My cupcakes turned out really well- moist, tender and fluffy! The changes I made are instead of 2 tsps vanilla I just did one and 1/3 cup canola oil. Thanks so much!
Hi, Elise!Can I use unbleached cake flour for this recipe? I have a box sitting in my cupboard right now. Thanks!
Hi Shirley, I don’t see why not. Your guess is as good as mine. If you make it with the unbleached cake flour, please let us know how it turns out for you!
Being new to baking, I just landed to your page by chance and it’s quite useful! I tried this cupcake and as its titled the cupcakes were soft and moist. Thank you!
Hi EliseThanks for this amazing recipe…just replaced vinegar with lemon juice …served d cupcakes to my grown kids n could literally see d appraisal with each bite !!!!! They were so soft n delicious !!!!
I’ve just made this cupcakes and they are really chocolate and moist! Thank you for such receipe с:
I love this recipe and how moist the cupcakes are! My only concern is that I think the vinegar taste is too strong, especially when I put sweet icing on them! I realize the vinegar is necessary for rising, but do you have any suggestions for disguising the bitter taste?
what did i do wrong the cup caked have deflated in the middle.?
I don’t know, perhaps your baking soda is too old and the leavening power has been reduced?
Tried this recipe for the first time and the cupcakes turned out great! Soft like a cloud and they were so delicious I didnt even bother icing them. Though they did turn out pretty oily on the base, don’t know why.
Hi I don’t have any vanilla extract for the cupcakes so I was wondering if I could skip it?
Hi Amber, you can skip it, but your cupcakes won’t be as good as they could be.
Hi I was just wondering if the coffee would give the cupcakes a funny taste and if it would I was wondering if I could replace it with plain water instead of the coffee
Hi Amber, the coffee will not give the cupcakes a funny taste. It will only intensify the taste of the chocolate.
I’ve baked a cake with vinegar before and It was overly moist. I don’t want a dry cake or anything but If I decreased the vinegar a little, do you know whether it would make the cake just a tad less moist? Hope you can help!
Hi Eve, the vinegar is there to react with the baking soda to provide leavening in these cupcakes. If you lessen the vinegar, you’ll have less leavening and too much baking soda which can leave a metallic taste in the cake. If it is too moist, I would either add a bit more flour, or cook it longer.
Once I made these cupcakes with some orange peel ( not sure how you call it in English ) and it was delicious! Very fresh and still very chocolate! Thank ypu for sharing this recipe:-)
This post has been here a while but I just found it. I made these yesterday as 1-bite mini-muffins and they were awesome! I think I cooked them around 15 minutes. I made the following changes: I used hazelnut coffee instead of regular, I added hazelnut extract (also used the vanilla), I added vegan mini-chocolate chips to the batter, and once they were in the pan, I sprinkled crushed hazelnuts on top. Results: good, although not super-sweet, which was fine…I didn’t use frosting. I had planned to glaze them with a vegan glaze but ran out of time and they were still good. I was hoping for a strong coffee hazelnut flavor but it didn’t really come through (seems like that would be a plus for the non-coffee-liking people) Next time I might try an espresso and more hazelnut. I’m looking forward to trying the coconut milk/oil substitutions and trying the “white” cake version!
So so great for late night chocolate snack attacks! Made it according to recipe and it was deep in flavor because of the coffee. Tonight I could not find coffee so I added more cocoa powder and some brown sugar. Still tasty :)
I’ve made these before, but was disappointed by the lack of chocolate flavor. I’m not a frosting person, so was hoping to eat these naked.
Would increasing the cocoa and sugar (to compensate for bitterness) wreck the recipe?
The salt and the coffee should heighten the flavor of the chocolate, so be sure not to leave them out. Especially do not leave out the salt. You could try adding more cocoa and sugar to the recipe. If you do, please let us know how it turns out for you!
I’ve made These with extra cocoa… and it works great! i use 1/2 instead of 1/4 Cup. no extra sugar needed in my opinion :) . i also prefer to not use olive oil, since i find it has a pretty strong flavor of it’s own. i usually use sunflower oil.delicious and easy recipe, perfect for a last Minute bring-along to any social Event!
I made them for a friend’s birthday because she loves chocolate anything. While the cupcakes are a breeze, the frosting took some efforts as I made it all by hand. I baked the cupcakes the night before and only frosted them the next morning. I used a warm water bath to soften it (I had popped it into the fridge the night before) before using. This is correct?
Also, how many days can it lasts if refrigerated?
The frosting or the cupcakes? Either will probably last several days.
I have been using this recipe for years and LOVE it. It is my “go to” chocolate cake recipe and is ALWAYS a huge hit – so simple and flavorful! I have found that you need to be sure to use olive oil in the recipe as it really makes a difference in taste. I also use a good quality dark chocolate.
I made these cupcakes and filled them with Coconut Cream & topped them with Chocolate Avocado frosting. Decadent & delicious!
Over the last few months I have tried many cupcake recipes. This one is by far the best! Very moist even the day after. Simple and moist! This recipe is a definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing.
I dont use van extract cos its expensive here in South Africa so I used vanilla essence. We also dont have baking soda so I used bicarbonate of soda (same qties).
This is my new chocolate cake recipe!! Cheaper to make cos no eggs and butter, so quick and simple, and so, so tasty! It was light, fluffy and moist!
I made a mocha buttercream and filled the center with canned caramel and risked it all and made it for mine and my fiance’s 8 yr anniversary and yuuuuummy!
Thank you thank you thank you!
This is absolutely wonderful. So easy to make; loved the texture and the best part is that it can be eaten guilt-free with no eggs and butter!
Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe.
Amazing recipe! I used whole wheat flour which gave them a nutty flavor and more texture. I also used Mexican sugar which is coarser than regular white sugar. Thank you! They were perfect for my husband’s birthday!
if you skip the coffee and use water, should the water be warm or cold?
Lukewarm, or cold. Just not hot. ~Elise
I did not see this question although it may be here, but should the coffee be hot or cold? I have never made a cake with coffee, so this will be new for me. Thanks.
Great question, cold, warm, or room temp are all okay, but not hot. ~Elise
Hi, wonderful recipe, i made it today. I was wondering if i want to add chocolate chips do i have to change something on the recipe. Thank you
I haven’t tried adding chocolate chips to this recipe, but don’t see why you couldn’t. Just put some in with the batter before putting the batter into the cups. ~Elise
I’m 13 and i made this cake for my homeroom teacher’s maternity leave party, and I was so nervous that it wouldn’t turn out. So nervous that I added 3 eggs to insure that it would rise. My class loved it and I would highly reccomend it to anyone who prefers a fluffy cake. I know its not the origional “wackey cake”, but you should give it a try.
I doubled the recipe and baked in two 9 inch pans and filled with strawberries and topped with the chocolate glaze, just on top no frosting on the sides and my god no one in my family can get enough of it, it’s what they all want for their birthdays!
We’re coffee lovers here in Puerto Rico so I brew Pilon coffee on my espresso machine and use that in the batter yum!
Great cake. Surprisingly soft and tender even though I used wheat and oat flour. Can I double the receipe? How many teaspoons of baking soda do I use if I were to double it? Also, can I use honey instead of sugar?
Your guess is as good as mine on these questions. Good luck! ~Elise
Hey! just wondering, can i use any kind of ziplog bag to make the frosting? because i dont have freezer ziplog bags at home.
Yes, any kind of culinary ziplock bag will do. ~Elise
The texture was fabulous. These came out extremely moist! However, I do wish they were a bit more chocolatey. Any ideas?
Made this, but used veg oil instead of olive oil (which can have a strong flavour if using extra virgin). Also, used my favourite chocolate icing recipe:Crunchy Chocolate Icing1/4 c flour1/2 c brown sugar2 T cocoa pwdr1 t baking powder2 T butter1 t vanilla2-3 T milk or creamBeat with a mixer all ingredients but the milk; will be oatmealy consistency. Add 2T milk and beat with mixer, if desired add up to 1T more milk until desired consistency for icing is met.
I know it seems weird, but it works like a charm.
This recipe is extremely similar to my mother’s chocolate cake recipe simply called, “Eggless Chocolate Cake.” This is the chocolate cake I grew up on, and is in fact the first thing I ever baked by myself at the ripe old age of six. Mom gave me the stained notecard upon which the recipe was written and said, ‘Just clean up behind yourself.’ I’ve been cooking ever since.
My favorite way to eat this is to bake it in a round cake pan, cut it into layers and fill and frost it with Whoopie Pie filling (for those of you who aren’t from New England, it’s a very light, white, whipped frosting, nothing so sweet as a traditional frosting… somewhere between frosting and cool whip.)
It’s also fabulous with raspberry filling, or as my brother loves, simply frosted with peanut butter frosting.
I’ve just made this cupcakes. Very very poor taste. So disappointing…
Just made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday and it was great! I was skeptical of the vegan-ness, but even my carnivore boyfriend loved it. I made it with marshmallow fluff frosting, and it tasted like whoopie pies! Here is the recipe for those interested. It makes enough for an entire cake, so half for cupcakes would be good.
Mix together:-1 c butter-1 c powdered sugar-1 t vanilla-1 c marshmallow fluff
Thank you so much for sharing this. I made this for my son’s class which some of the kids have egg and milk allergies. It was a hit. I made another for me and I added coffee and Kalua and served it with strawberries in a balsamic reduction. Making another one this weekend.
I just made this recipe. It was so easy, simple and delicious. I was very surprised that it didn’t call for eggs, and I was curious to see the outcome. The result was great!! Thank you :)
This was wonderful!!! Depression cake, war cake, wacky cake..call it what you want. Its superb! My other cakes with egg and butter eventually crack, but this one didn’t and moist..yes that’s the right word. What’s the mechanics of this? How come butter and egg cake turns out drier than this?
This is the first time I’ve commented on your site, even though I come here ALL THE TIME for dinner ideas. I made this a couple of weekends ago for my mom’s birthday cake – I doubled it and made it as a layer cake. We LOVED IT!! I love how the cake is not overly sweet, and how the frosting has a really intense chocolate flavor. This is my new go-to cake recipe because it’s as easy as making muffins, but way better. Thank you so much for posting so many great recipes.
Well, I tried them, and as a non-baker, I got fab results! And the girls at work loved them!
If you make them without a muffin tin to keep the cases upright, they flatten out and give a richer, almost brownie-like consistency. In fact, I’m tempted to get an all-edge brownie pan to try cooking the mix in, too!
These cupcakes are amazing! I made them yesterday and everything you said about them is true. I topped them with a dollop of chocolate ganache and they were at hit with all ages. Thank you for sharing!
I just made these, they turned out great!
To make the frosting vegan friendly I followed Elise’s recipe but subbed coconut oil for the butter and coconut milk for the regular milk. You end up with a frosting that is rich and has a hint of coconut flavor that plays well off the cupcake. I also chilled the frosting in the fridge until it was stiff then whipped it and piped it on, either way, runny or whipped it great!
Thank you for yet again another wonderful recipe Elise!
I was just looking for a chocolate cupcake recipe when I checked here. I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait to make them for my mom’s birthday tomorrow. As I read through the comments, I was reminded of a cake recipe my grandma gave me that I had never made. It’s the same recipe, with the “3 holes” method and hers is called Screwball Cake. Now I can make it for my mom and remember my grandma (her mother) too!
i made this for my fathers 50th birthday and he loved it! it has a great taste and im looking forward to making this again
Should the frosting be applied while still warm or should it cool down and harden more? If not serving until a day or two later, should the cupcakes be refrigerated if they already have the frosting on them, or should the frosting only be refrigerated and then applied to the room-temp cupcakes prior to serving? I made these-my first cupcakes ever-and they were so delicious! You had me at ‘super easy’ and ‘moist.’
The cupcakes should cool to room temperature first, before frosting them. As for refrigerating them, we didn’t find that necessary. We did however wrap them in plastic wrap. Lasted several days. ~Elise
Thank you, I’m not a baker, but planning to try this at the weekend. Reading through, it looks more like making pancake batter than cake mix!
Sally mentioned missing out the cocoa for a plain cake, but said she hadn’t tried it – wondered if anyone else had yet?
I made this over the weekend with a 3 year old and a 4.5 year old. We used decaf, and they were not at all bothered by a “coffee flavor” (which I was worried about). Next time I hope to be less distracted, as this time I left out the vanilla! Oops. The results were still fantastic.
Oh, and the frosting designs were a great way to get them to eat less frosting! We mad smiley faces, flowers, and “nests” (a fancy way to describe squiggles stacked up high!).
OMG is all I can say. A chocolate cake that’s both good AND moist. I rarely eat chocolate cake and never make it because it’s almost always too dry. This cake is so flip flappin’ good. I made spider cupcakes for a Halloween party and used this recipe, including the frosting. I can now make and eat chocolate cake. Way better than the modern versions!
I’ve made this wonderful recipe many times but always as a cake in a 9×13 pan. It was taught to me by my grandmother who called it a “Three Holer Cake” for the three holes in the dry ingredients made right in the pan for the oil, coffee or water and vinegar. I learned to make it in the late Fifties and the recipe was old then. I’ve enjoyed reading all the variations and I’m so happy to see this old war horse is still alive and kicking! THANK YOU ALL!
I made these twice over the weekend, and judging by the fact that they were gone in a day, I’m guessing the others really loved these cup cakes too! Great recipe Elise- this one is definitely a keeper :)
Hi, i tried this recipe with lemon juice instead of vinegar(didnt have it in the pantry)…and it came out just as the headline says…super moist chocolate cake! Thanks! This is à keeper…
I’m pretty sure that Peg Bracken called it Wacky Cake in the I Hate To Cook book, too (this is a fun cookbook, btw, in a Mad Men kind of way).
We’ve loved this cake for birthdays for 40 years or so — boiled icing is great with it (theme here being cheap but delicious).
And what could be more fun than mixing it up in the pan?
I just made these and couldn’t wait for them to cool completely before I tasted. They are delicious!
I see a couple of people have asked about different flavors for this cake. When Homesick Texan posted a recipe for Texas Sheet Cake, one of the people who commented said she used that basic recipe for all of her cakes. If she wanted a yellow cake, she left out the cocoa; if she wanted white, she left out the egg yolks; if she wanted spice cake, she added them.
I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with this recipe. For a white cake, use water and omit cocoa; for a spice cake, use water, omit cocoa and add spices (substituting brown sugar for part of the white would probably be good, too). Yellow cake might be somewhat problematic, since the yellow comes from the egg yolks.
I made these cupcakes this afternoon and they turned out great!! Thanks! My biggest problem now is keeping the kids away from them so I have some left for lunch boxes tomorrow.
Next time I will double the recipe as one batch is just not enough!
My family has been making a similar cake recipe for years, called Poor Man’s Cake. We use a Richmond frosting (probably similar to what someone else called a boiled frosting) on top, and we call it Poor Man’s Cake with Rich Man’s Frosting. ;)
Rich Man’s Frosting:½ cups Sugar1-½ Tablespoon Cornstarch3 Tablespoons Cocoa¼ teaspoons Salt½ cups Water2-½ Tablespoons Butter Or Margarine½ teaspoons Vanilla
Mix all ingredients except butter and vanilla in a small glass bowl or large glass measuring cup. Microwave 3-4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until it thickens. (Microwave longer if necessary.) Add butter and vanilla and stir. If frosting becomes too runny after adding these ingredients, microwave a little longer.
Brilliant idea to do it as cupcakes, Elise. After chatting with you about the recipe last week, I did a little research, as you know, and the recipe is indeed from a Depression-era cake called Wacky Cake and in the ’70s it was called Crazy Cake everywhere. If people want to look into it, they can read about it on foodtimeline.org, but I warn all: the entry is LOOOOOOOOOONG. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcakes.html
I’d like to ask you is that white vinegar is the transparent one? Or it is really white colored? And is it really the maple syrup is the substitute of vanilla extract?.thanks alot
White vinegar looks like water, it’s transparent. I wouldn’t recommend substituting maple syrup for the vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is strongly flavored, while the same amount of maple syrup is not. ~Elise
This is a great recipe!! I can’t wait to try it.I’m though wondering about the olive oil… I really like it, but won’t it give the cupcakes a.. weird flavor? I wouldn’t mind trying it however! Just in case, could it be replaced by some other vegetable oil?
Olive oil is often used for a substitute for butter in baking. No, it doesn’t give the cupcakes a weird flavor. You could use canola oil instead if you want. Just make sure whatever oil you use is fresh and not rancid. ~Elise
I’m from Mumbai, India where we have a predominantly vegetarian population (for religious reasons) with their huge demand for “eggless’ cakes. Therefore the recipe and the lack of eggs n butter come as no surprise. But the moisture of this version was beautiful. Here unless the eggless cakes are bought from expensive stores, they tend to be dry. Now with your recipe i shall dazzle my vegetarian friends. Thank you.
This recipe has been passed through my family for years and there is a decadent frosting that goes with it. I have made cupcakes using this recipe and filled them with the frosting because together they taste just like the original Hostess cupcakes.
Before starting the cake start the first part of the frosting.in small sauce pan mix 1 cup milk with 1/4 cup flour and bring to boil until thickened. Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture to keep skin from forming, and place in refrigerator to chill.
Now set aside the rest of the ingredients until they reach room temp while cake is baking.
1 stick butter or margarine1/2 cup shortening1 cup sugar1 teaspoon vanilla
while cake cools beat butter, shortening sugar and vanilla until creamy, add flour/milk mixture and beat again until it appears almost like whipped cream, approximately 3 minutes.
Frost your cake or stuff your cupcakes…lol just don’t blame me when your bottom thanks you by growing two sizes.
I call this a “wacky cake.” The recipe I use is probably similar to yours. It’s the basis for THE best black bottom cupcakes a small place in town has made for 20+ yr, way before they became a staple in many “coffee” shops.” For the filling I use 8oz. lowfat cream cheese, an egg, a dab of sugar, and chocolate minichips. The fairly wet batter is poured into foil cupcake liners (keeps moist) and a heaping spoonful of feeling is put on the top making sure not to touch the sides of the batter. Everyone wants the recipe, and they’ve become a staple with several of our families. When my sons got married, this was one of the recipes they wanted in their individual cookbooks. Thanks for reminding me: easy to make, little cleanup, and the rewards far outweigh the prep/baking. I also use the filling sans choc chips for pumpkin muffins/cupcakes.
My grandmother always made this cake for my birthday. She had the recipe since the Depression. Her recipe didn’t have coffee in it, though. She called it Wacky Cake, and it’s great. My other grandmother had a different Depression era chocolate cake made with mayonnaise that was also a favorite.
Great recipe, thanks. I used coconut oil instead of olive oil, and sprinkled dried coconut shreds on the frosting — muy delicioso! Gracias.
This cake was our family BD cake during the war & my childhood onward sans the coffee addition. It also became my childrens favorite chocolate cake,and is now my 8 grandchildren ages 5-21 yrs, favorite chocolate cake.
The cake recipe in my family, came from my mother’s ration cookbooklet circa WWII. I don’t have my Mother’s ration cookbooklet alas, but do still have her 1943-44 clothing ration book.
The cake was known as War Cake when we lived in England, but in Canada where my family is now, the chocolate cake is known as Wacky cake.
War Cake in our area, was Canadian War Cake. It was not a chocolate cake, but rather a dense spicy cake made with raisins. It was also a ration cake recipe as eggs, butter & milk were not required.
I do recall Irma Bombeck having the Chocolate War/Wacky cake recipe in one of her very popular books, but the recipe itself goes even further back.
My grandmother also made this cake when I was a child. I’ve made it many times since, in both cake and cupcake versions. For those who would prefer using a healthier oil, virgin coconut oil works very well in this recipe. We like the cupcakes frosted with dark chocolate frosting to which I sometimes add a little Vietnamese cinnamon. This is a very versatile recipe!
During the war in England this was a well used cake recipe (not just chocolate) because eggs and butter were rationed. My mother – and others – wanted our birthdays to be celebrated with a cake even if we had it at no other time. No English mother was going to have children’s birthdays spoiled by Mr Hitler – or any man.
This is like a recipe I have called “President Roosevelt’s Birthday Cake”. I’ve used it for birthday cakes before and it’s wonderful! I’ll have to try this one and compare them :)
Just a question…could I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar or would that change the taste or texture dramatically? Or even skip the vinegar?
You could easily use cider vinegar. Just don’t skip the vinegar or you won’t get any rise. ~Elise
WOW! Does ‘exactly what it says on the tin’! Such a quick and easy recipe. My three sons think I’m just wonderful the way it whipped up so quickly. I have to say SimplyRecipes is a brilliant resource. Always my first port of call if I’m looking for a new recipe.Being from Ireland I find your recipes travel very well. It helps that I have a set of measuring cups which my mother-in-law brought for me fro the States.Thanks guys
Olala nous somme tous fan de chocolat, mais là, je fonds de plaisirJe te souhaite une très bonne soiréeValérie.
Chère Valérie, Merci beaucoup pour votre comment. Le plaisir est pour moi de te faire fondre de plaisir avec ma recette des cupcakes. Bon appétit! ~Elise
I was pretty skeptical about making these, but they were delicious and the frosting was excellent. I’d never made frosting before so I was stoked that it came out so tasty. Thanks Elise!
Tried this recipe today. Love the texture. Beautifully soft. Very easy to put together and bake. Had a few issues though. The cupcakes were not as moist as I would like them to be. And they tasted like there was no dairy in the cupcake. Do you think using milk in the coffee and replacing the oil with butter would help with that? Or would that totally mess up the batter? And the cupcakes stuck to the liners a lot. How can I remedy that?
Sounds to me like they may have stayed in the oven just a little bit too long (for your particular oven/muffin tin). They should have been moist, in addition to being soft. No idea about sticking to the liners, we didn’t have that problem. As for subbing with butter, I would do an Internet search for the appropriate ratio for subbing, it’s not 1:1. ~Elise
Went down a treat at teacher only day at school. Made ’em without the coffee for our non-coffee liking colleague. They all want recipe as we all have egg/dairy sensitive kids in our classes.
And they are even yummier the next day. MMM.Thanks heaps :)
I have the “Wacky Cacky Cake” recipe from my husbands family. It has turned out to be my husband and son’s favorite cake. I make a peanut butter frosting with cream cheese that they also love on it.
these. were. amazing. i cant believe i never had heard of these before, particularly when i was actually vegan! so incredibly easy and delicious that its actually quite dangerous. i didnt catch your correction of the baking soda, so i actually used a full TABLESPOON instead of a TEASPOON, and could definitely taste it, but whatever- ate them all anyway and no one was complaining. and now i have a reason to try them again. thanks, elise!
I’ve made a version of this cake for nearly 50 years, only we called it “Chocolate Dump Cake” since all the ingredients are just dumped together. Try using water that has peppermint extract in it, or crushed peppermint (can be sugar free if you like). I’ve also used Splenda instead of sugar. All of our generations of children have loved this cake. Letting it sit for a couple of days just makes it more moist and delicious.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the new family tradition started with this very recipe selection. This is such a simple and kid friendly recipe that my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter were able to help out with every step (until the first 2 cupcakes were frosted. Then every form of helping stopped to be replaced by consuming :). Really enjoyed the time together and the delicious outcomes. Once again, a new go-to recipe.
Thanks for this. I have an egg allergic kid and am always looking for egg-free recipes. This sounds delish! And i saw in the comments someone had tried a white version.
I’ve made this cake using the recipe from Cuisine at Home. It is amazing! The frosting recipe that was included is also very good. It’s really shiny and dark with deep chocolate flavor. The recipe for both can be found online. I’ve also wondered about making a yellow cake by omitting the cocoa, but I’ve been afraid to try it thinking that the cocoa solids must do something to absorb some of the liquid or something of that nature. Thanks for the adaptation for the cupcakes.
I had no idea that this recipe has been around for so long! I have been searching for an eggless cake recipe for my egg-allergic nephew. I came across a variation on this recipe a few months ago and now this blog! My variation on the recipe used several Tablespoons of coffee and the remainder of the cup of liquid consisted of coconut milk. You can’t taste the coconut at all, but I’ll guess it would lend a bit of richness to the cupcakes. They are delicious. I’m looking forward to trying it as a layer cake. Thanks for sharing this recipe and sparking the discussion.
Sorry if you’ve answered this question, but do you know if this would work in a mini-muffin pan – and if so what the adjustments might be?
Hi Christina, I haven’t made these in a mini muffin pan, but don’t see why they wouldn’t work. You would just have to reduce the time. Your guess is as good as mine on the timing. ~Elise
I have been making this cake for 48 years! We call it “No No Cake” (no eggs, no milk, no butter). I top it with a boiled chocolate fudge frosting. It is our go to chocolate cake. Will definitely try it as cupcakes. Thanks.
I gave up consuming animal products a few weeks ago and am now thankful I won’t have to give up cake ;) I’m also trying to cut oil out of my diet. Do you think replacing the oil in the recipe with apple sauce would work?
You could try it, and the cupcakes or cake might be moist right out of the oven, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t stay moist long. ~Elise
I have this recipe from the Moosewood Cooks at Home cookbook, it’s a winner everytime. Made these to take into work for my birthday, they were a major hit :) If you come up with other flavor variations on this recipe (as you posted in the comments), please post them here, I’d love to try this in different styles. So nice to have such an easy and low-ingredient requiring cake recipe on hand.
Two questions: your recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla in the frosting. Is that correct, or should it be 1 teaspoon?
Also — I have a half-size bundt pan — 6 cup rather than the usual 10 cup size. Would the recipe work for that pan, or would it also need to be doubled as for two layer pans?
Thank you — sounds great, however it is presented!
Hi Lou! I think the Hershey’s recipe I found called for only 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I like vanilla so I added more. When you get to the end of the additions as you make the frosting, you sort of add ingredients based on the consistency of frosting you want, so the measurements are approximate. ~Elise
Actually this is very similar to a cake recipe i posted a few days ago. Similar concept. Long time ago both eggs and butter were hard to find. Someone had to find a work around.
When you say cups how much is that in ounzes please.
Hi Carole, well that completely depends upon what you are measuring. I haven’t made this recipe using metric measurements, but perhaps if another reader has, they can post their conversions in the comments. ~Elise
This was perfect timing! We are having guests on short notice, and the cupcakes are sitting there, waiting for the friends to arrive. I can’t wait! The frosting is so delicious.
Ah yes — a version of this was very popular not just in the depression, but among cake-hungry expatriates in countries like Nigeria and Tanzania, back in the days when egg supplies there were erratic and butter was impossible to get.
I have a recipe in my arsenal (a.k.a. recpe box of handwritten recipes that was given to my by my grandma when I moved from my parents’ house) and this is indeed “wacky cake.”
Would I need to double the recipe for a 2 9 inch layer cake? Thanks!
This looks like my kind of cake. No need to worry about cholesterol from the butter–delicious as it is. I should try this soon. One question: do we have to oil/butter and flour the pan? Thank you, Elise.
If you are going to make a cake, do it in the usual way. We often use stick-free pans these days, so don’t need to grease those. But an aluminum pan, I would butter at least. Cupcakes don’t need any spray, just liners. ~Elise
I encountered this as ‘depression cake’, a good many years ago (well, 20-30 – not as far back as the Great Depression). I was told it was made (and possibly invented) then, since butter and eggs were expensive. I’ve made a vanilla version – just skipped the cocoa (and made it with water, as I usually do, not coffee); it came out pretty well, and tasty.
Oh, my recipe says a teaspoon of baking soda, too. Other than that it’s pretty close to yours (less cocoa, less vanilla, more oil).
I’ve been thinking about trying a vanilla version with this method. Or some other set of spices. The idea that you can make a moist cake without butter or eggs opens all sorts of possibilities. ~Elise
I’ve been making this cake since the ’60s, it was always called “wacky cake” and traditionally mixed in the same pan it’s baked in, though mixing in a bowl results in a much better texture and is a must for making cupcakes. 1 tablespoon of baking soda is way too much and will make it taste like baking soda and bitter like barbara said. 1 teaspoon is the amount I’ve always used and what most recipes for “wacky cake” call for.
Hi Jackie, isn’t funny the names some recipes get? This cake is wacky. I could hardly believe it when I first read the ingredients. Speaking of which, thank you, the baking soda amount I originally posted was a typo, the correct amount is as you say, 1 teaspoon. ~Elise
My mother made a similar cake. She used a bundt pan and a simple sugar glaze over the top. Here’s our recipe:
3 cups flour2 cups sugar2/3 cup cocoa1 tsp baking powder1 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt
Sift the above together in a large bowl. Make a small hole in the middle of the mixture and add the following:
Mix together:1 tbsp vanilla1 tbsp white vinegar2/3 cup vegitable oil3 tsp instant coffee2 cups of boiling water
Beat together and bake at 350 for ~30 mins.
Simple, quick, and delicious.Enjoy!
I’d forgotten all about this recipe! My mother called it “Wacky Cake” and said it was a recipe from the Depression.
All the way back to then? Wow. It makes sense though, to be able to make a rich moist cake without expensive eggs or butter. ~Elise
This is one of my favorite chocolate cakes, though I’ve only made it with water, not coffee. I learned how from my Grandma. And when my mom was young and in 4-H in Illinois “4-H Funny Cake” as it was called, was one of the projects they had to do for the cooking project. Back then in 4-H (where she lived in IL anyway) everyone in their first year of taking the Food/cooking project would make this cake (I think this was the first year) the second-year kids would all make another type of dessert (snickerdoodle cookies?). I’m probably messing up the details a little!
But the reason it was called 4-H funny cake was that you actually mixed the dry ingredients in the cake pan, then dug three wells in the dry stuff, one for the vinegar, one for the oil, the other for vanilla (maybe this was to make sure that the kids wouldn’t forget an important ingredient??). Then the water was poured over everything and it was mixed in the pan and baked! Easy and no extra dishes to wash!
Very good cake! I used to make it with mint frosting with my grandma, but also sometimes peanut butter frosting, or most often, just with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top!
Thanks for sharing this version – I’ll have to try with coffee. I bet that would be even better!
I’ve made a similar cake (mixed right in the 9 x 13 inch pan with a dinner fork) from the classic Peg Bracken’s I Hate To Cook book ever since I was a school-kid in the 70s. I could never understand why people would bother with boxed mixes when it was so easy to make a delicious moist chocolate cake from scratch. It’s a family favorite and winner on all counts (not to mention very fast and cheap to make), except I don’t bake with wheat flour anymore so I haven’t made it for a few years ;-(.
In later years I would slice the 9×13 inch cake down the middle with a long bread knife into two thin layers, gently remove the top layer, drizzle raspberry jam mixed with a little raspberry (or other flavor) liqueur of the bottom layer, gently replace the top layer, and cover the top or whole cake with whipped cream, garnished with fresh raspberries just before serving. I don’t think I ever made it into cupcakes, though.
Elise I have made this before but never as cupcakes. What a great idea and I’m off to make some now. There is a link to NYT on my page which covers a little of the history of the cake. It was originally called Amazon Cake. http://www.winosandfoodies.com/2006/07/amazon_cake_tha.html
Hi Barbara, love the NYT article on cocoa! Thanks for that. It appears that this cake has had several names. ~Elise
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