I know some of you are trying to host birthday parties in the middle of self-isolating and limited grocery availability. Ugh. I’m so sorry if you have little kids who may have trouble understanding why they can’t have their friends over. I’ll work on some ideas for how to throw a party in the middle of all this.

In the meantime, I can offer you a chocolate cake recipe that doesn’t require any eggs, milk or butter! This recipe relies on a reaction between baking soda and apple cider vinegar, so make sure you’re using fresh baking soda.

This is the chocolate cake my mother always made us. I shared it ages ago, but now’s the time to revive it!

We’ve made this cake with all kinds of frosting — and it’s good no matter how you finish it. Try vanilla, brown sugar, chocolate, caramel or German chocolate cake frosting. Or skip the frosting — it’s that good alone.

Just a note: this recipe is written for a ONE LAYER cake. It easily doubles. I don’t want you to make it and then be surprised when you only have one layer. My pictures show me doubling the recipe.

I want to show you just a few things about making a Real Crazy Cake.

1 – You need to sift all the dry ingredients, but you don’t need a sifter. Just grab a strainer and shake. (Sifters make my hands hurt.)

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2 – Mix your dry ingredients until they are well incorporated.

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3 – I have no idea why you do this next step — I really wonder if it makes any difference — but you use the back of a spoon to make three large indentations in your dry ingredients.

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4 – Pour the vinegar in one indentation, the vanilla in the second and the oil in the third.

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5 – Pour water over all. The vinegar should bubble up.

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6 – Mix again until the batter is smooth.

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7 – This is a very moist cake, so it’s important to prepare your cake tins well. Use non-stick cooking spray or Crisco and also flour your tins. You could also line the tin bottoms with parchment paper.

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8 – If you’ve doubled the batter, divide it between the two cake tins.

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9 – To make my cakes cook evenly and help them cook flat, I soak these cake wrappers in water, then wrap them around my pans. This usually helps, but this time — of course, the time I’m trying to take photos of my cakes — both cakes came out of the oven with lopsided domes. Wish I knew what went wrong! (And yes, I need to clean my oven.)

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10 – After you pull the cakes out of the oven, let them cool in the tins on a baking rack for 10 to 15 minutes.

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11 – Turn the cakes out of the tins onto parchment paper, then let cool on the baking rack for about an hour or until completely cool. The parchment paper helps the cakes not stick to the racks.

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12 – I tried a chocolate frosting mix this time that, unfortunately, didn’t actually mix very well. (It tasted fine.) So, since the frosting looked kind of wonky, I gave up on a smooth finish and went for the homemade swirl look.

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I finally decided to try adding sprinkles to the sides of the cake. I researched a few different methods but this technique from Your Tasty Cake is what I tried and it worked really well! (Here’s another technique if you’re feeling really brave!) I’ll share some photos of the process tomorrow PLUS how to cut nice, neat slices of cake and how to get out that tricky first slice.

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If you try making Real Crazy Cake, I’d love to see your photos.

Real Crazy Cake

Easy chocolate cake that doesn't need eggs.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 12
Author: Jennifer Needham


  • 8" round cake pan(s)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large whisk


  • cup flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp canola oil
  • Pam for baking OR flour and Crisco


  • Sift dry ingredients into large mixing bowl.
  • Make 3 depressions in mixture with the back of a spoon.
  • Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in the second and canola oil in the third.
  • Pour water over all, then mix well until smooth.
  • Pour into a greased and floured 8-inch baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Makes ONE layer of cake. You will need to double the ingredients for a two-layer cake.
Makes 12 – 15 cupcakes.
This recipe is great with German chocolate cake frosting, vanilla buttercream, or cream cheese frosting.
This is a very moist cake, so buttercream frosting will pick up cake crumbs unless you do a crumb coat before the final frosting coating.
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