Still the one: Cake-Pan Cake takes the cake.

It was 20 years ago this month I moved from Maine to New Hampshire, found a job at King Arthur Flour across the river in Vermont… and discovered the best company in the world.

Frank and Brinna Sands owned King Arthur Flour back in 1990, when I arrived. Frank’s family had been involved with the business since the early 1800s; generations of Sands men had sold King Arthur Flour, headed the company as president or, from 1932 to 1996, owned it outright.

In 1996, without a next generation of Sands family to take over, Frank and Brinna sold the company to the employees. King Arthur is now 100% employee-owned.

Over the years, King Arthur has transitioned from a small New England business to one of the nation’s top flour companies. We’re equally proud of our flour, our customer service – and our status as the #1 educator of home bakers in the world. We’ve taught hundreds of thousands of people to bake – including tens of thousands of middle-school students, who’ll share their skills with the next generation.

It’s a great legacy, and one we’re very proud of.

So what does all of this have to do with chocolate cake?

My first job at King Arthur, all those years ago, was to rent a U-Haul truck, drive to the printing company in the next town, pick up thousands of cookbooks, and bring them to the post office to mail.

The book was “The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook,” which Brinna had worked on for years before finally seeing it come to fruition in September, 1990. This 600+-page book, in its three-ring binder, was a real heavyweight: literally! Luckily, some of the guys at the press helped with the loading, and the initial press run of 10,000 books was soon on its way to customers who’d pre-purchased it from ads on the sides of King Arthur Flour bags.

Several years later, we got out of the self-publishing business, and turned the book over to Countryman Press, a couple of towns away in Woodstock, Vermont. Countryman immediately transformed the book into a softcover, which has sold nearly 300,000 copies.

But a funny thing happened – people kept requesting the original three-ring binder version. And for good reason: it lies flat on the counter as you follow a recipe. And chapter tabs make it easy to turn to exactly the recipes you want.

So, in honor of the book’s 20th anniversary, we’ve reissued it in its original three-ring-binder format. The Original King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook is now for sale on our Web site. And, for each of the first 2,000 books sold from our site, we’ve decided to donate $5 to The Family Place, here in our hometown of Norwich. This parent-child center offers young parents the skills they need to care for their children – including cooking. And baking.

All right, already! What about the chocolate cake?

It’s one of my all-time favorite recipes in the book. This simple stir-together Cake-Pan Cake is ridiculously rich-tasting; super-dark, and so moist it doesn’t even need icing.

Ready? Let’s get baking.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Grease9” round cake pan or 8″ square pan with sides at least 2” high. If your pan isn’t 2” deep, choose a 9” square pan.

Put the following right into the pan:

1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Mix these dry ingredients thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

Like this.

See those little dark bits? They’re little lumps of cocoa. If you worry about stuff like this (I tend not to worry), you can actually sift the dry ingredients into the pan, rather than just dump them in. Sifting will take care of any lumps, as well as mixing the ingredients about halfway; you’ll still need to whisk, but not as much.

Next, you’re going to make three wells in the dry ingredients. Put the following ingredients into the three wells, one in each:

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Pour 1 cup cold water over all.

The original recipe called for “1 cup cold water (original recipe), coffee (next inspiration), milk (later inspiration), or 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup rum (latest inspiration).” If you use espresso powder, as we do here, adding coffee will make this a mocha cake.

Stir all the ingredients together with a whisk or fork until well blended.

Switch to a spatula at the end, to incorporate any dry ingredients in the bottom of the pan, especially around the edges.

A bit messy looking, but no worries.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top feels set, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out moist, but clean of any crumbs.

Wait a sec – what’s with the two cakes? I thought this recipe made one cake…

Indeed it does. But I was doing an experiment – the results of which you’ll see below.

Perfectly baked in 33 minutes.

Oh, boy… It’s tempting to just dig in, isn’t it?

As the directions in our 200th Anniversary Cookbook say, “Warm from the oven, this Cake-Pan Cake is wonderful with ice cream or just by itself with a big glass of milk.”

So, this was the experiment: Could I turn a Cake-Pan Cake out of the pan intact?

All the time I was mixing the cake in the pan, I was thinking, hmmm, this has the potential to mess up that thin layer of vegetable oil spray I spritzed in the bottom.

So, just in case, I’m going to mix up another Cake-Pan Cake in a bowl, then pour the batter into the greased pan.

THAT was the second cake you saw in the oven.

OUCH! The cake whose batter was mixed in the pan is suitable for eating right out of the pan, as the instructions say. Don’t try to turn this cake out onto a rack.

The cake I made by mixing the batter in a bowl, and pouring into the pan, turned out onto a rack just fine. So, use this second method if you want to make a double-layer cake with icing.

Now, what to do with that somewhat crumbled cake?

Just stick it back in the pan, and no one will be the wiser!

Lesson learned: if you’ve mixed in the pan, SERVE from the pan.


Is that moist, or what? I took this picture 3 days after I’d made the cake, and it was still incredibly soft and moist. This cake is a GREAT traveler.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Cake-Pan Cake.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Mary

    I was one of the original 10,000 to get the first edition. This has been my favorite chocolate cake recipe for many years. I have used it for wedding cakes, all family occasion cakes including fancy molded pans, bake sales and pot lucks with great reviews each and every time.I have found that it multiplies well for larger versions (not mixed in the pan). Try it! It won’t fail you.

    Mary, I mailed you your cookbook 20 years ago, then! Thanks for letting us know you’ve used it well… PJH

  2. karenmtaylor

    There was a slice of this wonderful cake still around 3 days later, you must of hid so you could get you pic. This cake looks like the mayonnaise cake my mother used to make over 40 years ago. I have already pre-ordered my cookbook and cannot wait for it to arrive. I collect cookbooks and really love the binders the best. Thanks for the story and recipe. Karen from Poquoson, VA

    Yes, mayonnaise cakes have this same moist, dense, “keep forever” texture. Thanks for reminding me, I haven’t made on in awhile… PJH

  3. Kelly

    That’s the same recipe as one I got from an ex-Great Aunt that she called Wacky Cake and it is indeed the most moist, chocolatey cake ever! I was led to understand that it’s a “depression era” cake. I’ve always made mine in a bowl and made either cake or cupcakes from there. Delicious! I’ll have to try your suggestion of coffee!!

    Wacky cake it is, Kelly – and do try the coffee. Enhances the chocolate wonderfully… PJH

    1. Brian Lynch

      This was published in 1960 in a cookbook by the Sacred Heart School Mothers’ Club (Niagara Falls, NY)!! My mom use to make this, and she also referred to it as a “depression cake.” Smart woman (and president of the Mothers’ Club at the time) suggested it had the double meaning of being a recipe from the Depression era (which she remembered as a child– the era and the cake) as well as having the depressions into which you put the liquid ingredients!

  4. SMJ


    Looks like a great “I want to bake without making too any dishes dirty” kind of recipe. And its chocolate! It would make a great no fuss potluck dessert.

    Go for it – the book’s a real slice of Americana… PJH

  5. breit85

    A woman I used to work with made the most wonderfully moist chocolate cake, which she simply deemed “wacky cake”…since losing touch with her, I’ve often thought about that cake, but never happened upon a recipe that fit the bill…Looks like that just changed! Thanks for sharing..
    cathy b.
    P.S. looks like I have another cookbook i need to add to my collection! 🙂 I’m especially interested in recipes that get lost over time, heritage recipes, if you will. So this would be so interesting to me!

  6. LeeB

    Two things:

    That cookbook is going on my list of Christmas gift ideas!
    Using melted extra virgin coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil will make a super tasting, extra moist cake! We love coconut oil in chocolate things. 🙂

  7. capecodjerry

    PJ, when I saw the two cakes, I thought for sure you were headed for the coffee ice cream, (softened ice cream the center and chill the whole thing down like a frozen layer cake.)

    My Mom had this recipe, doubled and hand written on a scrap of paper. She used to bake it in a 8X15 Pyrex. I do the recipe you have, mixed in a separate bowl, and spatula’d into the same 8″ round and prepped cake pan, (pan sprayed and circle of parchment paper), drops right out!

    Think I’ll make one for the weekend! Jerry

  8. lgrant1954

    I rarely buy cookbooks anymore–I have an electronic “recipe box” called a laptop that keeps 15,000 recipes handy and easier to locate when I am looking for “that recipe”. Having said that, I will say I have to order a copy for posterity. I’ve used KA Flour for at least 10-12 years of serious baking and it never disappoints me. When Trader Joe’s started carrying its own brand and tried to tempt me, I just told them I wouldn’t be tempted away from a flour I trust and that consistently does the job for me. I love the flour, I love the employee-owned company aspect of it (wish I lived in VT and could work there!!) and I love ordering from the website. Keep up the good work and great recipes and service, KA!! Thanks!!!

  9. jjbriggs

    We called this Crazy Cake in my childhood. I pulled out the recipe again recently due to my daughter’s allergies to milk and eggs. Many birthday guests have raved. Thanks for all your great work KA!

  10. Pam JWM

    Drat! I just put some muffins in the oven, and then I sat down to look for a bread recipe, and saw this. From now on, I come here first, BEFORE I bake, in case I get a new idea! It’s next on my list, though!

  11. lperry10977

    I used to be able to print a recipe or the blog howto with pictures. This week it doesn’t work. I get boxes with no pictures. Any ideas what my problem is?

    Sorry this hasn’t been working as planned. It will be helpful to us to know which recipe or blog you are trying to print out as well as the web browser you use. Irene @ KAF

  12. gminner

    If it’s 33 minutes for the cake, how long would it take to make the cupcakes and would that make 12?

    Try baking cupcakes for 21-23 minutes. The actual amount might vary with how large your cupcakes are. kelsey@KAF

  13. Janine K.

    What great timing! My husband’s birthday is today and is was contemplating my options when I saw this recipe. He LOVES chocolate and I’m sure we’ll all LOVE this cake! One question, though. He’s not a coffee fan (and I have no rum). Is the coffee apparent in the flavor? I do have some creme de cacao… Would that work like the rum?

    Espresso or coffee will amp up the chocolate flavor. If your hubby has a real aversion to coffee then skip it. You could add other liquors in place of the rum to yield terrific flavor combinations! Irene @ KAF

  14. mmomx3

    My 6 1/2 year old made this cake today as a homeschool project and it was “super easy”. She subbed your White Whole Wheat flour and used applesauce for some of the oil .. we snuck a taste and it was wonderful! She’s very excited and is planning to make it “a million times” Thanks for sharing!!

  15. rpaacharya

    Hello KAF,

    Do you have a similar recipe without the chocolate, A white cake?


    Unfortunately, at this time KAF does not have a similar recipe for white cake. You may have to try a general internet search for one. I know they are out there! kelsey@KAF

  16. amyrterenzi

    I wonder how it would do if you lined the bottom of the pan with a round piece of parchment paper before dumping in all the ingredients? That way you could mix in the pan and still take the cake out?
    Yes we have had comments from other bakers and they find using parchment paper works. JMD@KAF

  17. Cyn

    I have one of the later softcover versions of this cookbook, and I love it. I did wonder why and when the KA company was sold to its employees…thanks for the answer!

    A question — which type of cocoa is used in this cake? Dutch process, or natural? I’ve never tried the “wacky cake”, and as good luck would have it, both types of cocoa are in my pantry just waiting to be used!

    Since baking soda is the leavening, the cocoa is natural cocoa, not dutch process! Irene @ KAF

  18. sueshawnmc

    I make this cake all the time (I know it as Wacky Cake too). I have tried dozens of other chocolate cake recipes, and none of them have come out as moist and chocolatey. My husband keeps asking me why I keep looking when I already have the ultimate recipe.

  19. majorswife

    Love the coffee idea. Would it be overkill if I used a tiny bit of your chocolate extract? I have your beautiful dutch cocoa so, I don’t want to over do it. I am just dying to use the chocolate extract in something. I have the 200 anniversary cookbook but would love the one with the binder. Maybe I should give my old one to one of my girls. That would give me an excuse to get the one with the binder. haha

    Go for the chocolate extract! Let us know how it turns out! kelsey@KAF

  20. priscillatern

    This was my go-to recipe when one of my daughters was allergic to eggs and several other foods. (She has since outgrown her egg allergy.) So easy to make that I used to make this with her and she was only 4 at the time. Simply an infallible recipe.

  21. lweber

    My three year old had a blast making this – and the upshot was there was minimal clean up! Well, minimal for cooking with a three year old and a one year old underfoot!

  22. carrie

    this “wacky” cake looks way better than the one popularized here in the ozarks. that one involves canned fruit & some sort of cake mix. i’m leading the foods project for our 4-H club this year & you can bet i’ll be testing this to add to our cooking marathon. i have 6 boys & 3 girls that were tempted to learn to cook when i mentioned an overnight cooking marathon featuring homemade pizza & cinnamon rolls. it was so popular i’m going to have to do it 3 different nights… i’ll be adding the cookbook to my christmas wish list

  23. carrie

    Do you think Askinosie cocoa powder will make it any better?

    Have you tried Askinosie cocoa powder…. no affilitation, but it’s a hometown company with a great product.

    Bean to bar chocolate right here in Springfield, MO

    This Single Origin, Natural Cocoa Powder is just what you need for this recipe. Thanks for helping us learn about this USA company! Irene @ KAF

  24. Blakeley (Cupcake Princess)

    I’ve been making a mix in the pan cake that I got from everyday food magazine about a year ago and I love how easy and tasty it is. I’ll have to try your recipe sometime!

  25. Maria

    This is the BEST chocolate cake recipe! I’ve used it for YEARS!
    I made Rachael’s chocolate cupcakes for her wedding shower with this recipe…they tasted as good as the “gourmet” ones from J.S. Watkins {bakers who did her wedding day cupcakes}

    They froze PERFECTLY and tasted “baked that day” fresh!

    I had the same experience mixing and baking in the same pan… I recommend mixing first then pouring…
    No biggie though… soooooo easy!
    I use a double dose of the instant coffee my husband has left over from camping.

    Have a wonderful Autumn weekend!
    We’re expecting lots of rain tomorrow {upstate, NY}
    Time to take out the baking pans 😀

  26. sandrahamilton

    I also called it Wacky Cake and have been making it since I was a teenager. Love it and so does my family. Since it is served warm, it can be easily make when unexpected company drops in.
    Thanks for bring the cookbook back. I will be ordering it. Also, thank you for helping The Family Place.

  27. roli7915

    I’ve made this recipe as a layer cake (doubling the recipe), however, I grease the two 9 inch pans and then cut wax paper to fit into the bottoms only of the pans and then grease the bottoms again. After baking has completed, I remove the cake from the oven and wait about ten minutes and then carefully place top side down on a rack. I immediately – gently peel off the wax paper and then allow the cakes to finish cooling before frosting for a layered birthday cake. This works wonderfully for our family gatherings that includes three grandchildren with serious air-borne, contact, and ingested allergies to peanut, tree nut, dairy and eggs.

  28. ebmozo

    I got so excited when I saw your blog and the recipe! It’s my all-time favorite chocolate cake and it beats all the other fancier recipes that I’ve come across. I collect many, many, many recipes for chocolate cake because I’m forever searching for the most perfect one. But this recipe beats all the other gourmet and fancy pastry chef-created ones. And it’s so simple to make! (Can you tell I can hardly contain myself?) I also mix in the pan but I always line the pan with parchment paper so it turns out pretty well even as a layer for a 2 or 3-layer cake. I usually make it with a cream filling (a mixture of pastry cream and whipped cream stabilized with gelatin) and frost it with a caramel ganache. It’s just perfect. Soft, moist and chocolate-y. Thanks a lot for validating my choice! If King Arthur gives it the royal seal of approval, then it must be the best.
    Using parchment paper is a great idea. Thanks! JMD@KAF

  29. Leslie Limon

    I have a very similar recipe that I received as a wedding present, titled The Best Snack Cake. I thought it very strange that it didn’t have eggs. But it is so delicious and moist. It’s my go-to cake recipe whenever I need a chocolate cake. I add chocolate chips, orange zest. I have a ton of add-ins!

  30. staci

    I need that cookbook!!!

    I’ve heard of a cake that you mixed right in the pan but have never had the pleasure – I guess I just really enjoy my KitchenAid mixer.

    My Aunt RoseAnn used to make a cake similar to this cake that has a very thin batter. It uses sugar, flour, milk, water, coffee, oil, cocoa, eggs, bp, bs, and vanilla. It has, since the very first time I tasted it as a child, been my favorite cake.

  31. dmillho1

    This recipe in my family was called ‘Garnet’s cake’. I think that was the name on the newspaper recipe my Mom clipped out. I still make this cake when I want a quick chocolate fix. We have a fudgy icing that goes with it wonderfully.

  32. mIKES

    For years I have always wondered why it is that you need a training course, test, and license to drive a car, but can have as many kids as you wanted to create. Good choice of charity.

  33. inks4fun

    That cookbook has been on my wish list for years, but had always wanted a binder version, guess my hold out was for good reason! I’m ordering it today and baking the cake tonight.

  34. Kim

    Thinking I was oh so smart, I sent this to my mother in law who, I found out, has been making it for years. I whipped one up last night after reading this post and have a couple of tips: first, I used a scale so an easy recipe was made even easier by not having to measure out the flour etc. Next, I went to use my espresso powder and found that I hadn’t tightened the lid last time and it had turned into a hockey puck – beware! My husband, who rarely eats sweets, has such fond memories of this growing up that he had two slices. This cake is bound to reappear on the table again and again. Thanks for bringing the next generation up to speed!

  35. vel

    I agree with mIKES what a good charity in this age where home ec classes are being cut and parents don’t even think to take the time to give their kids education in the basics of life.

    and I keep telling myself, no no I don’t need another cookbook. sigh.

  36. Paul from Ohio

    OH YEAH. Perfect timing PJ! I had 3 Vanilla Dreams left after packing the rest of the batch off with my buddy for a weekend trip in the RV, so this puppy needed something: 1. quick 2. easy 3. chcolate scores high, and one pan with all the ingredients on hand (save for the all important Expresson from KAF – which just ran out and WILL be replenished tomorrow)! Super great recipe that 100% matches all the great expectations for it as well as everyone’s comments. Our grocery was having a 3/for sale on Ben and Jerry’s which I’ve not had in a very long time…………so hey, Vermont PERFECT luscious wonderful ice cream to scoop now, onto the top of my Pan Cake, or whatever folks call it. Minus the espresso I added a handful of chocolate chips!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thx. Congrats too on your anniversary there at KAF – it was definately a marriage made in the bakery!

  37. Angela in VA

    I just used this recipe, doubled, in a jelly roll pan and then used the cake to make little LEGO cakes for my son’s birthday. I cut strips and stacked them and then cut out little circles and “glued” those on to the stacks. It turned out really well, although I wish I had put the cakes in the freezer for a couple of hours so that they would frost easier. We love this cake around our house!

  38. alvicki

    This is one of best cake recipes I have tried in a long time. My 6 yr. old grand-daughter just loves helping me with it, in fact she made the second one all by herself. One little trick I used was to cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the cake pan and then lightly sprayed it with oil. I then mixed all the ingredients in a bowl and pour it in the pan. It came out perfectly. Can;t wait for Anniversary Cook book to get here. Thank you all…this site rocks for any thing baking…..

    We are boosted by the success of our customer/bakers! Thank you for encouraging the next generation of home bakers. Irene @ KAF

  39. kkaschke

    Would this work with the dutch process cocoa I have?

    This recipe works with best natural cocoa as it has baking soda as the leavening. Most recipes that use dutch process cocoa use baking powder as the leavening. Irene @ KAF

    Though Irene’s answer is correct in most cases, I think, since there’s only 1/4 cup of cocoa in the cake (amazing, for how dark it is), that the Dutch-process would work OK here. I believe I made it with Dutch-process, actually. Give it a try – I’m thinking it’ll be just fine. PJH

  40. lishy

    I make this often too, as well as the spice version from your website. I almost always use the white whole wheat, and when my diabetic mom is coming I always use splenda. No matter what I do it always comes out moist, delicious and super chocolaty. I love too, that I can start dinner, and while it is cooking I can make a terrific dessert that will be ready in no time. Thanks for reminding me.

    Thanks for sharing your successful recipe adaptations! Irene @ KAF

  41. Isomiere

    This is warm out of the oven tonight, and perfect with the Haagen Dazs! Yum! I opted for mix-in-bowl and poured it into a pan with parchment.
    -Pam JWM

  42. kfreshwater

    I also was reminded of the Mayonaise cake I used to make when my four kids were little. I still have a list of things I used to put in it or on it. I sprinkled powered sugar on it after it cooled, this is a great cake for kids or husbands lunch boxes. It’s a hold and eat kind of cake. The mayonaise cake I made went into a 9 X 13 pan, I think. Now there is only the grandson and I so this will make the perfect size for us. I love to cook and bake but no one will give me a spare kid to help eat all the goodies so I send them to work with my grandson and the office guys love to see him coming in.

  43. Anna

    This recipe looks deeelicious. I’m wondering about baking time if I make it in mini-cupcake molds. Any ideas? Thank you!

    Hmmm… Depends how mini. I’d start with maybe 12 minutes, then just keep checking. Same temperature. Good luck – PJH

  44. janie

    i forget how much i love this recipe. it’s great, simple and tasty! this was the first cakes i ever baked. thanks for the reminder — and for the tip about the coffee– my original didn’t have this but I totally am up for the update! mmm!

  45. Mei

    What’s the purpose of adding vinegar ? Is it to neutralize the base in baking soda ?

    Vinegar reacts with the baking soda to produce a nice rise, Mei – yes, it does neutralize, but in the process creates lots of cake-rising bubbles. PJH

  46. weshook

    I was introduced to the cake pan cake just recently, and it is the perfect cake for baking for someone with milk and egg allergies. It is a terrific cake in any case, but much better than any of the other milk- and egg- free cakes that we tried. Now we just have to find an equally delicious vanilla-flavored milk- and egg-free cake. We had already figured out that to turn the cake out of the pan, we needed to mix it in a separate bowl.

    Hi – Our 200th Anniversary Cookbook and Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook have five cake-pan cake variations: cottage pudding (which is vanilla, though with yogurt; but bet you could use 1 tablespoon vinegar + 1 cup of water or soy or almond or rice milk); citrus; sherry; spice; and maple-walnut… Glad you like the chocolate version. 🙂 PJH

  47. Lan

    I followed the recipe and baked the cake yesterday. The texture is moist but kind of tough, not delicate. I’m wondering what the texture would be like if I add eggs to it. Have you ever tried adding eggs ?

    We haven’t tested this recipe by adding eggs to it. Our theory is that adding eggs would make an even heavier cake. This recipe is a keeper as it uses ingredients you most likely have in the kitchen. Your lighter chocolate cake needs may be best met by a recipe that includes eggs, keeping this recipe for emergencies like guests or just-gotta-have-a-cake-but-don’t-have-time! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  48. bonniewhite

    So, just reporting back on this recipe. I made it on Friday, and here it is Tuesday, and it’s still as moist and delicious as the first day. It’s just me at my house and I meant to give half of the cake away over the weekend and never, um….quite got around to it. 🙂 Anyway, that’s why it has lasted so long, and on the countertop, no less. This cake is way too easy to be this good.

  49. Mary

    Just let mine cool enough to try and it’s much better than the recipe for wacky cake that I’ve tried in the past. I have a question, that’s OT, but was hoping that KAF would start carrying 8″ pie pans once again? I can no longer find them any where, and just hate having to use 9″ pie pans. All my old recipes for pies, especially the family favorite home made chocolate cream pie, called for an 8″ pan, and I’d buy a bunch of them if I could find a source.
    I’ll definitely add 8″ pie pans to our wish list for the merchandising team. Thanks for the suggestion.

  50. KimberlyD

    I made this cake today, and it was a hit! Nice and dark chocolate and I didn’t use coffee in it and great taste! So easy to make. I did mix it in a bowl than pour into cake pan only because I sprayed the pan with non stick and didn’t want to mix it in the pan after that. No parchment paper. Also I made a white frosting, using confectioner sugar and egg white.
    Thanks for this recipe.
    I have a brownie recipe that is like this, depression era recipe I got from a friend’s dad who lived through the depression, when I fined it I will send it to you. It to don’t call for much ingredents. It is always a hit.

    Thanks, Kimberly, I’ll look forward to seeing your brownie recipe- PJH

  51. Lulu

    I loove this cake! It’s so easy to throw together and is also my favorite chocolate cake. I was wondering if you’d have any suggestions on making it vanilla? or something other than chocolate (i.e. no cocoa?). I’d love to see what other vegan cakes this could be transformed into. Thanks!

    You may need to look for a white wacky cake recipe. I know they are out there! kelsey@KAF

    Lulu, our 200th Anniversary Cookbook has a number of variations, including vanilla (cottage pudding), spice, citrus, maple walnut, and “tipsy” (sherry)… PJH

  52. headchef

    This cake is GRRRREAT!!! With Ice Cream, Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting, Maple Frosting, ahhh everything. Do not sell this cake short. It even makes a great 2 layer cake with pastry cream filling and a light fluffy vanilla frosting. It is very versatile. PS A little rum goes a long way and adds a new dimension to this cake.

  53. taieena

    A friend had loaned me his copy of the softcover when I expressed an interest in making bread several many years ago. It was a gift to him from someone else, and in the process of my bread making experiments, I managed to get stuff all over his copy. So, I went and bought a new copy, and since his wasn’t signed or anything, I gave him the new copy and kept the other one. I have a bunch of cookbooks that are packed away, but this is one of the staples that never ever gets moved or packed away since I use it frequently. I’ve made this cake, and I absolutely looooooooooooooooooooooove it! 😀 Thanks for posting it!

  54. milkwithknives

    Just a quick question: since I don’t have any flipping vinegar in the house (of course), could I use buttermilk instead of water and get the same effect? I suddenly need to take a chocolate cake to a dinner tomorrow and am not going to have time to get to the store.

    Give it a try. It should work just fine. Frank @ KAF.

  55. lyvy1

    WOW! This was sooo good. I mixed it in a bowl and poured it into a greased pan to cook, should have floured too as the middle stuck, but I just whipped up some chocolate frosting and repaired it. It was really, really good.

  56. milkwithknives

    Made it! Six of us got through the whole cake while watching Glee. The buttermilk worked perfectly, but my cake was a little dry. I know it’s because the batter was too dry (it didn’t look like your pictures, and I’m sure I was short a tablespoon of liquid), but the taste was spectacular. Not sickeningly sweet, just purely chocolate. Incredibly easy to mix up, no need for frosting, how can you beat that? I’m keeping this recipe for sure, and next time I’ll be more careful with my measurements. Thanks a MILLION for this one.

    Glad we could add to your recipe “treasure chest…” 🙂 PJH

  57. flfg

    Since I didn’t have any natural cocoa in the house yesterday, I made the cake with dutch-process cocoa and eliminated the baking soda. I added a bit of cream of tartar, at the suggestion of a book on substitutions. The cake didn’t rise AT ALL. Is it possible that dutch-process cocoa can’t really be substituted for natural cocoa?

    So sorry your substitution did not work as planned. When you are in the middle of one of these baking dilemmas, it’s the perfect time to call our Baker’s Hotline at 802-649-3717. Natural cocoa works best with baking soda as the leavening, Dutch Process cocoa works with baking powder. This recipe is written for the natural cocoa. Irene @ KAF

  58. fminparis

    Why all purpose flour and not cake flour or sifted cake flour?

    Because I always have AP flour around, and don’t always have cake flour. Because most cake flour is bleached, and I don’t like to eat powdered bleach. Because I like the more “toothsome” texture of AP-flour cake, compared to the “sawdusty” texture of cake-flour cake. And, to each his own – I’m sure this would work just fine with cake flour, especially our unbleached cake flour blend. Enjoy – PJH

  59. fminparis

    OK, fair enough. But being adventurous I tweaked the recipe just a bit. First I used cake flower and sifted it, as I sifted the cocoa powder. I also added another Tablespoon of cocoa to make it more flavorful. I found that the baking time has to be spot on.The first time I made it I used the 30 minutes and it was much too dry. The second time I used 25 minutes and it was considerably better. I started checking it with a toothpick at 20 minutes and found that, for my oven, the best time was 23 minutes and it was perfect. I check my oven temperature with a glass thermometer and know it is dead on accurate but I realize that there are “slow” ovens and “fast” ovens, so the best thing is to constantly check with a toothpick, starting early in the baking.

  60. control46

    definitely saving this one! I’d love to see more vegan recipe options from KA 🙂

    Test kitchen is doing some thorough experimenting with egg-free baking right now… PJH

  61. Diane Recipephany

    I often make the orange cake-pan cake as well as the maple walnut version from your 200th Anniversary Cookbook. The orange is so intensely citrusy and moist that I think of it as The Missing Link between pudding and cake. I like to use a pan with a removable bottom to get around the stickiness issue. The orange cake has so changed the way that I bake that I have featured it this month on my Recipephany blog (

  62. Carol S-B, from Canada

    Best recipe ever.
    So many good comments: love the dusting of powdered sugar before serving; addition of choc. chips; haagen dazs, mmm.
    My sister’s kids made this often when they were little.
    And here’s a riff on the theme I haven’t seen yet.
    This recipe is also the base for black bottom cupcakes. First, mix:
    8 oz. cream cheese (regular, not low fat, please); softened to room temperature
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips.
    Blend this mixture well.
    Now, make the cake batter (as above) in a bowl.
    Spoon into 12 large or ~20 smaller paper-lined cupcake tins, filling just ~ 1/2 full.
    Put a spoonful of your cream cheese mixture on top of each.
    Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, depending on your oven and altitiude.
    These don’t look beautiful but, WOW are they good. No icing needed.

  63. Joyce Stone

    My family has enjoyed this cake for years….we call it Crazy Chocolate Cake, and bake it in an 8″ square pan (double recipe in a 9 x13). I had always made a confectioners sugar mocha frosting, but lately I’ve taken to spooning a quick chocolate glaze (1/2 c semisweet chips, 2 T butter, 1T corn syrup, 1 t espresso powder….melt and blend the butter, corn syrup and powder, stir in chips until melted and smooth) over the top of the warm cake and then allowing to cool. Yum…..fudgy goodness. The cake itself is vegan, so all you have to do is watch what you top it with in order to meet vegan diet.

  64. noodleme20

    This is AMAZING! I had a chocolate craving that blonde brownies wouldn’t touch, and I stumbled upon this. Not only did I make it with our four year old, but it is soooo good!!!!! Thanks!!! I love you guys (and girls!) Please keep it up!

  65. wcarey

    I have been making this cake for years and I’ve shared the recipe with all three of my sisters. We call it our “Chocolate Shabbat Cake” because as long as you use water or coffee (my preference) as the liquid you can serve it for Shabbat (or any Jewish holiday other than Passover) regardless of whether you are serving a meat, fish, or vegetarian dinner. This way you can pick your dessert before you pick your menu. How perfect is that! I’ve even turned this cake into a fabulous trifle using raspberry sauce and a non-dairy chocolate mousse (Dorie Greenspan’s recipe). Regardless of whether you plan your meals around Jewish holidays, this recipe should be in everyone’s go-to recipe box.

  66. t

    I have to say…
    I just tasted this out of the oven, and although it is SUPER easy and quick to put together, the chocolate flavour is really lacking for me.
    I think this is my first time tasting an eggless cake, so maybe I’m just not used to it because it is really lacking a richness that most other chocolate cakes seem to have. Something seems to be missing as well as the chocolatey richness.

    It is SUPER moist though, no doubt.

  67. Tanisha

    Was wondering can I replace the sugar with splenda baking blend sugar? Just to make it 1/2 the sugar? Thanks, this cake looks yummy!

    Unfortunately, Tanisha, we haven’t tested this with Splenda to make the necessary adjustments; in cake, you can’t just substitute Splenda and have it come out, as sugar (real sugar) is responsible for a lot of the cake’s structure and texture, not just its flavor… Sorry about that- PJH

  68. cbsal

    My mother-in-law packaged up these ingredients and sent them to her son in the Vietnam War and the cook on his ship baked it for him for his birthday about 40 years ago. It was his favorite cake and the family called it Wacky Cake. Traditionally, Frances iced it with canned frosting and stored the cake in the refrigerator–they liked it cold which always seemed strange to me.

    Indeed, I’ve seen this called Wacky Cake, too. Bet your brother-in-law (husband?) really enjoyed the cake on his birthday – much better than those MREs with the limas and ham (yes, my husband was in Vietnam, and I’ve heard LOTS about the WWII rations!) 🙂 PJH

  69. quiltingmom3

    We love making this cake at our house, and my boys like it because they can lick the batter: no eggs! We’ve done different variations, like adding cappuccino powder, chocolate chips, and chocolate pudding mix, and they all turn out great. Thanks for this recipe!

    And thanks for the ideas for add-ins – I’m particularly intrigued with the chocolate pudding mix. Must make a delightfully moist cake… PJH

  70. karen price

    wow. This has been my go-to recipe on those 8pm chocolate cravings and gotta have it! Ive done all the variations, and use the espresso powder and sometimes rum. Thanks for being King Arthur Flour Company!(Love you guys….I gotta work there.)

    Karen, we’ve currently got 8 job openings… c’mon up! 🙂 PJH

  71. KD Lee

    Made this recipe tonight for the first time and I let my 7 year old put it together. We substituted the vegetable oil with coconut oil and we were both making yum yum sounds before it even got into the oven. I used Dutch cocoa and wished I hadn’t read the comment section because I used baking powder instead of baking soda. The result wasn’t horrible but it didn’t rise as high as expected. It tastes delicious and the whole family is ready for the next “experiment”. I’m thinking of adding peanut butter the next time and some Jamaican rum on my 3rd try. I’ve already shared it with a vegan friend. Thank you for posting!

    And thanks for posting your delicious-sounding plans… I’m wondering what globs of raspberry jam dropped atop the batter would do. Hmmm… 🙂 PJH

  72. scparlee

    Can I use the KAF gluten free flour mix for this recipe, PJ? It looks so yummy my mouth is watering!

    This is going to be an experiment. At a minimum, you’ll need 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of g-f flour blend. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  73. Sarah

    I had not made Wacky cake for years, something reminded me of it on Monday, and I made it for company. It was a hit!!, so I made a 2nd one yesterday for my husband, also in a 9×9 pan. I had thought about adding the espresso powder yesterday but didn’t. Then today, what should I see in your post, but the same cake. Had not thought of it in years.

    Welcome back to the dark (cake) side – or maybe even back to this old-school recipe! It sure is a keeper! Irene @ KAF

  74. kkaschke

    Is there a yellow cake version of this?

    Yes, indeed – though not online. It’s in our Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook, p. 283, a reprint of our King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. It’s called Cottage Pudding Cake. I’d think you could find one or the other at your local library; or you could purchase the book – it’s PACKED with great classic recipes… PJH

  75. cookiechick

    Wow, how can I NOT bake this recipe with all the fabulous feedback! My question is about the last ingredient of the cake – that is some range of flavor from water to coffee (cold?) to milk, to water/rum. I was hoping your fans would say what they chose to use. What is the most common liquid add-in? Thanks for a great post, and great blog in general!

  76. Lea C

    Love this recipe! So simple and so good. Any chance that there is a equivalent KF recipe for white/yellow cake?

    I would love to make a black and white layer cake with both recipes. Thanks!
    At this time, we don’t have another cake that is an “all-in-one-pan” recipe besides this one. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t make a batter like this white cake, or this yellow cake, and layer it! Hope you give it a try, Lea. 🙂 ~Jessica

    Lea, we don’t have a yellow “cake pan cake,” but check out this spicy fruit version: Spicy Cake Pan Cake. PJH

  77. Jill

    I’m not familiar with espresso powder….is it sold in regular grocery stores? Also what is the outcome if you use milk instead of the water?

    Yes, you can find it in the grocery store, but not easily; Medaglia D’Oro is the brand I’ve seen. You can also buy espresso powder from us here. And yes, go ahead and use milk, it’ll be fine. Enjoy! PJH

  78. katerpillar311

    Oh I wish there was a way to grab one of those slices of cake and eat it from my computer. It looks so yummy! I can’t wait for mine to get out of the oven! I love King Arthur Flour and I wish I lived in Vermont! I’d love to work there!

  79. katerpillar311

    Ok so I figured out why the first one didn’t come out right and the reason why some of my cakes haven’t been turning out right… LOL I need to get my head in the baking game! LOL

  80. laurakooris

    This recipe looks awesome. Anyway it can be adapted with King Arthur GF flour or GF cake flour? We’d love to try it during the holidays.

    Please call our baker’s hotline for details on this. 802-649-3717. ~Amy

  81. prddem

    When I was first married (40 years ago) I asked my Mom for her recipe for the chocolate cake she’d been baking since “forever.” This was the recipe she gave to me. As a matter of fact, I baked one just yesterday. I’ve always made it in a bowl first and then to the baking dish. We’ve been planning on making Vermont a destination vacation and I believe it will be very soon!

  82. jodib

    This looks delicious! I have been looking for an ultra-moist chocolate cake for a long time. I have a question though. Would you double this recipe for a bundt cake and how long do you suggest to cook it? I love the idea of drizzling some fudge sauce and maybe peanut butter on the top of this.
    If this turns out as good as it sounds I may ask for the cookbook as a present. Thanks a bunch.

    In a bundt, check the cake at 45 minutes, then watch it as it moves along. Frank @ KAF.

    To answer your question, yes, I’d double it for a large bundt-style cake. PJH

  83. katemo

    I just made this and it’s fabulous– even if you aren’t avoiding dairy or eggs!

    I used your black cocoa which worked great, and did not have powdered espresso, so I used a shot of espresso allowed to cool. Put the espresso in the 1-cup measure and topped it with cold milk.

    It worked really well and I love the black cocoa!

    I greased the pan to avoid the sticking.

    And now I have to try the citrus version!

    Wonderful how a recipe that’s been around for so long (at least 65 years) can remain so fresh and compelling, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your feedback here – PJH

  84. sleeloo

    Would this cake hold up well to being split and frosted? I recently made a very similar that was very delicate. It basically fell apart in my hands. Thanks!The word around our town (KAF) is yes, you can split the cake and frost it…….let us know how it comes out!

  85. "Jim in Rochester"

    Maybe it’s because I’m weird, but I can taste the vinegar in the cake, which I don’t like. If I made it with baking powder instead of soda and vinegar, how much should I use? And should I increase the water by a tablespoon to compensate for the missing vinegar? Since I’m using Dutch cocoa, I suppose I’d be better off using baking powder anyway, although it did rise just fine using soda.

    This will be an experiment. Try replacing the baking soda with 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder. Yes, increase the water to compensate for the missing tablespoon of vinegar. Good luck. Frank @ KAF.

  86. "Jim in Rochester"

    Thanks, Frank, but it turns out to be a non-issue. Once the cake had cooled I couldn’t taste the vinegar at all, and it was absolutely delicious. For me (maybe nobody else), advising to eat the cake warm is a mistake: it’s VERY much better once it has cooled to room temperature. I almost threw it in the trash after the first taste because the vinegar made it so unpleasant. Now I’m very glad I didn’t.

    Maybe if anyone else has a bad experience eating it warm they’ll see this and give it another chance after it has cooled down.

    Jim, that’s a good point to remember – unlike biscuits, bread, and cookies, cake is very much better once it’s cooled down; some of its ingredients that may “de-gas” in the oven need a chance to stop evaporating, which takes awhile, given the thickness and density of most cakes. Glad you ended up enjoying it! PJH

  87. "Jim in Rochester"

    I just noticed that here in your blog you don’t say to eat it warm, but on the recipe page it does say, “Serve right from the pan; warm from the oven, this Cake-Pan Cake is wonderful with a big glass of milk (skim, of course!)”, which is exactly what I did, skim milk and all.

    Thanks for the explanation of why my cake tasted so strongly of vinegar when warm but had no trace of vinegar after it had cooled. Maybe most people who make this cake don’t eat it until it’s cool and so never encounter the lingering vinegar. I felt a little crazy when I wanted to spit it out after everybody else had raved about how delicious it was.

    Thanks for posting your reaction to the vinegar taste in the fresh, warm cake – may it help other quick chocolate cake bakers avoid sour cake tastings! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  88. terryone2000

    My son lives in Denver , Colorado and is gluten intolerant. Could this delicious chocolate cake be ” transformed” for his condition? Thanks. Therese
    Hi Therese! We haven’t tested this cake as a gluten free version yet, but it should work with 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum. I would throw it all into your mixer and give it a good whirl rather than mixing it in the pan. ~Amy

  89. Shawna

    Any chance you know the fat and calorie count info?
    Yes, here is the information requested. Elisabeth
    Nutrition information per serving (60g): 188 calories, 2g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 1g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 203mg sodium, 17g sugars, 0mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 2mg calcium

  90. Tonia

    An old recipe book of my mom’s called this Wacky Cake, but I’ve also seen it called Crazy Cake and Cocoa Cake. I used to use this cake to make giant cupcakes and frost w/Chocolate Buttercream or fill with marshmallow filling and frost with Dark Chocolate Ganache w/a white squiggle on top. Mmmm. . .yum!

  91. Stephanie

    I got this recipe from my grandpa (who loved to cook), noted as Wacky Cake from the I Hate To Cook Book. It remains the best and easiest cake recipe I have made! As easy as a boxed mix, and tastes better.

  92. Louie b.Free

    I ALWAYS love having y’all on my radio show!
    Can I use K.A. whole wheat flour for this VEGAN cake???

    It should be doable! I would start with replacing 1/3rd of the flour with whole wheat and see how you like the cake. Also make sure to add a few teaspoons of extra water/coffee/milk/rum per cup of whole wheat flour as it will need more liquid to remain moist.-Jon

  93. timjanet54

    I skimmed through the comments and did not see if anyone has tried to make this with gluten free flour. Has anyone done this? I wonder if it would work.

    It is certainly possible, however we have not tried this ourselves so it will take some experimentation!-Jon

  94. Bonnie

    Can this delicious cake be made with King Arthur’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour? Sure hope so!!!

    It may be possible with the addition of xanthan gum, however we have not tried a gluten-free version so it may take some experimentation!-Jon

  95. AnneMarie

    This is our battlefield cake. It ships REALLY well, wrapped in parchment paper, in a gallon ziploc type bag and in a tin or disposable plasticware container 😀

    This old recipe I shipped to the middle east in the mid 90s. 😀

    Great to know! Not all cakes ship well and if it can make it all the way to the Middle East then it can go just about anywhere!-Jon

  96. AnneMarie

    I forgot, since I was taking it out of the pan to cut and ship. I mixed it in a bowl. The cake pan was lightly sprayed AND I put either brown paper or a parchment circle in the bottom, THEN the batter. Cooled, the paper came Right of the cake, slick as you please.
    I’m a mix in the bowl girl too. That parchment paper is such a great insurance policy, it makes my baking so much happier. ~ MaryJane

  97. songwoman

    I love the recipes that are shared here! This cake is definitely part of my recipe collection! I would love to have one of the cookbooks but shipping cost to Alaska prevent me at this point. One day I’m hoping we might move to the lower 48 so I can be a steady customer, my catalog is full of earmarks! Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes!! My family has loved every one of the ones I have made 😀

  98. Pattix2

    Thank you so much for releasing the binder version of the cookbook again. I just ordered it as a “must have” necessity. Thank you for the great recipe. I will be making that this afternoon. Thank you also for the delightful story that came with this–I truly enjoyed reading every word!
    I absolutely love KAF–you have helped me in so many ways. My hubby loves you too…and all the things I make because of you wonderful people. Many thanks.

    Thank you for all the kind words, we love to feel the love from our customers However we love to return it even more!-Jon

  99. kaf-sub-spinnergran

    My family also called it “crazy cake.” When I started learning to bake in the early 50’s, it was already a long-time family favorite. My college room-mate was/is allergic to eggs & milk, so this was the first birthday cake she’d had in years, at age 20. And it’s still a favorite – a real classic.

    This is indeed a classic, and for good reason: so easy to make, so tasty! I like to drizzle come ganache over the top, as that, also, is SO easy – just chocolate chips melted in heavy cream. Wish I had a slice right now! Thanks for connecting here – PJH

  100. rlafaiete

    I am a brazilian baker. I love King Arthur Flour!!! I Love your recipes!!!
    Recipe with history!!! Fantastic!!! Congratulations!!!

    Thanks so much – Cozimento feliz! 🙂 PJH

  101. knitwitter

    I’m wondering what the difference is between the “200th Anniversary Cookbook” and “KA Baker’s Companion”.

    They’re two very different books. The 200th was published in 1990; the Baker’s Companion in 2003. During that 13-year period, we developed/discovered lots of new recipes, so the recipes in the two books are nearly entirely different. That said, both offer lot and lots of tips, hints, and explanations of the “whys” and “hows” of baking. For more information, call our customer service team – 800-827-6836. Happy reading! PJH

  102. naomia

    do not find your KA flour in the south. Will any all purpose flour work?
    I’m sorry you are having trouble locating a source for our products. Try entering your zip code for a local search here. If you are unable to locate us, then any AP flour should do! ~Amy

  103. cakedujour

    I’ve been looking for a gluten free, dairy free, egg free recipe. This sounds wonderful! Can I successfully substitute your Gluten Free flour for the all-purpose flour called for?

    It should be possible, but I do not believe we have tried it yet. You may need to add xanthan gum to the recipe as well to help!-Jon

  104. cakedujour

    Thank you. I’m new to GF baking. How much xanthan gum would I add? Does the jar offer some guidance on its use?

    You should use about 1 tsp for a cake recipe and I do not believe the jar has instructions for usage on it but our various gluten free recipes are a good guideline for the amount you should use!-Jon

  105. Auntie

    After reading your blog on this cake, I couldn’t resist trying it. I love the idea of a super easy, small snack cake to nosh on during the week. So I made it, it was tall, dark and handsome. Unfortunately, this cake lacks flavor on its own. I suggest increasing the sugar 1/3 cup to bring out the chocolate, or be prepared to slather it with your favorite frosting (which is what I ended up doing). The good news about this cake, besides being super simple, is the texture. It is CRAZY, MAGICALLY, MOIST! I can definetely see myself making it again, with a few modifications, of course. Thank you for the recipe.

  106. Paula B.

    Once again, I am turning to this wonderful, easy recipe. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me so while getting breakfast ready I made this cake, it’s in the oven now. I love that it’s delicious as well as reliable. Used a cup of coffee fresh from the Keurig, house smells yummy between the cake and the coffee! Will cool and then frost later. I know it will be well received after dinner tonight.

  107. catieartist

    HI! I was searching for a different recipe, but came across this in cake pan cake, so after reading this, I now I think it is my dessert tonight! I saw the inquiries for Gluten Free adaptations, but no one has responded with their results? I may have missed them, but haven’t seen one.

    I am going to try this with some of your GF AP flour blend, although I prefer to mix it up so I have some whole grains. I just made a GF lasagna, so the diet is already blown, so , hey, why not? I would like to try the ganache mentioned above. I will post the results..which me luck!


    Ps. What is the below “you may use these….’ for and how does one apply them? As they are general labels, how does one customize if they want a title, or create an ‘attribute’ in their posts? Sorry, I feel dumb asking, but I won’t learn unless I ask! Thanks.

    We have yet to attempt this recipe gluten-free, but there may already be a blogger out there who has posted with great success on such a cake. I imagine it would be somewhat difficult considering how much stirring/beating most GF recipes require in order to obtain decent texture in the final product. We would love to hear if you had success with this cake in a gluten-free version!

    PS: The “you may use” refers to using the listed HTML attributes when you post on our site for proper formatting. We put the most essential tags on our page to make it easy on people as there are MANY HTML attributes out there! Here is a website all about using HTML attributes: Best,Kim@KAF

  108. Stevie

    Hello, i really enjoy the chocolate version, but is there a way to make a vanilla version. Can you replace the cocoa powder with more flour and bump up the vanilla?
    We haven’t yet tested a vanilla version for this recipe and it would involve some adjustments with the fat and flour. It may be a good idea to contact us on the hotline for a more detailed discussion on how to give this a try. ~Amy

  109. Eleanor Lynch

    Made cupcakes and put a Andes Candy on top as soon as they came

    out of the oven. Spread and let cool until top is firm. Two thumbs up

    from the kids. Takes no time at all.

  110. Harmony

    Making this gluten-free is easy!

    I just made a variation on this cake for a potluck, and it was a hit. I’ve been making wacky cakes for the past 15 years, but this was the first time I’d successfully made one with gluten-free flour. I thought I’d share what I did here so others can try it.

    Flour: For the flour, I used a homemade blend using the recipe here at King Arthur flour. (BIG thank you to King Arthur for creating the blend and sharing the recipe!) I used 1 1/2 cups, the same amount as the original recipe calls for.

    Xantham: NONE! I don’t like xantham gum as it can give me a tummy ache. So I left it out completely. No problems whatsoever!

    Stirring/beating: A comment from KAF above notes that GF cakes often need a lot of stirring or beating. I didn’t bother with that. I stirred gently until everything was incorporated, but I didn’t want to over-stir as I wanted the chemical rise to take place in the oven, not on the countertop. The cake turned out beautifully.

    Oil: I used a high-quality coconut oil, melted. I increased it to 1/2 cup. When the cake cools (which this one never had a chance to, it was that good), the coconut oil will harden slightly (assuming it’s not too hot out), and this will help to bind the crumb.

    My old recipe for this cake calls for 1/3 cup cocoa and 2 tsp vanilla, so those were the amounts I used.

    For the sugar, I used turbinado sugar, which has a caramel color and may add a touch of caramel flavor (though I think that the cocoa drowns it out).

    Make sure to use COLD water, not warm or hot. While working out my variations, I tried it with hot water. Major mistake. The hot water thickened the potato and tapioca starches in my GF flour, and the cake turned out horribly. But if you use cold water, it will be great!

    For my potluck, I wanted to dress up the cake by drizzling it with chocolate sauce. We melted chocolate chips in a water bath and added hot water, mixing with a whisk, until the sauce was smooth and thick. Then I drizzled it in a crosshatch pattern over the cake.

    Halfway through the potluck, I noticed that some people were slicing off the top of the cake just to steal the frosting! By the end of the party, the whole cake had vanished.

    Everyone loved the cake — especially gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free folks. But people without allergies were raving about it too. A hit!

    Good luck to all the gluten-freers out there!

  111. Karen

    I just came across this recipe (in a stash of recipes I inherited) plus “Bread Baking made Easy” and a typed page with a stollen recipe.
    It was mailed to my Mother-in-law on Dec 6, 1972 from Cambridge MA. She passed the recipe along to me but never said where it came from, we are still enjoying the cake.

  112. Kath

    How can I make the frosting using the chocolate chips? Will I melt every half of a cup of the 1 and 1/2 cup of it? Was that the procedure says? Can I melt it in microwave?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Kath, follow these directions: Heat 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips with 1/2 cup half & half until the chips melt; using a microwave for this is fine. Stir until smooth, and pour/spread over the cake. PJH

    2. Rhonda

      PJ, I know this isn’t the right place for this question, but my computer is with my husband on deployment and my tiny phone screen is being useless. My son who is in college 1500 miles away has requested this cake(unfrosted) , banana bread, banana cookies and any other breads to be in his next care package. Should I try to shrink wrap the cake or banana bread before shipping? Does KA sell anything that would help me ship smarter? I knew you would know the answer!! Thank you.

    3. PJ Hamel, post author

      Rhonda, I regularly ship perishables to my mom (1,000+ miles away). I wrap them well in plastic wrap and, if they’re delicate or crumbly, cushion them in packing peanuts. I’d cut the banana bread in half, just so it’s not as likely to crack down the center; if the cake is in a round, you can leave it whole. If it’s a square, you might cut it in half. I’ve had good luck MOST of the time with Priority mail via the USPS – it’s supposed to take 2 days and sometimes takes 3; occasionally it gets lost and takes a week or more, but that’s unusual. Good luck – I’m sure your son will be happy even if some “breakage” occurs! 🙂 PJH

  113. marietta

    I cooked this cake for 30 minutes. I did open the oven around 26 minutes and it seemed to fall as I was about to test with a toothpick. I decided to leave it until the 30 minutes. I took it out and it fell. I cooled for 10 minutes in the pan. I used a cake round and it also stuck. I will try this again. I haven’t tasted it yet. I am disappointed that it didn’t release.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Marietta, I am sorry your cake fell. Opening the door early can cause a cake to fall. PJ had good success turning the cake she mixed in a bowl out of the pan. The cake mixed right in the pan did stick to the pan. I hope you do like the cake’s taste.~Jaydl@KAF

  114. Lori

    I’ve made this cake several times. It’s amazing that such a simple recipe could yield such a perfect cake! It’s wonderful served just plain or with a little dollup of whipped cream…no fancy frosting needed. Just wondering, is there a vanilla or lemon version of this? Has anyone tried just omitting the cocoa? Would it need other adjustments? Thanks!

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I have made this cake as vanilla by leaving out the cocoa and replace it with 2 tablespoons of flour, and milk for the water. From there, the world is your oyster as far as flavorings go! ~ MJ

  115. Barbara

    I am 60 years old and used to be in baking & cooking for 4-H when I was very young. This was in my 4-H book and was called Funny Cake. I still make it to this day. It is still my childrens favorite cake, even though they are grown and have their own children now. Their kids now make it also, so it’s being saved through the generations. LOL This is my first time ever on your site, so it was great seeing something that was familiar.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Barbara- We’re so happy to hear you enjoyed looking through the site and found a recipe that resonated with you and your family’s history. We hope you find a great deal more to enjoy as you further explore the world of King Arthur Flour. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  116. SIMONE54

    I am now obsessed with the KAF website. After reading the reviews for this cake, I decided to make it for my son’s 2nd birthday. I doubled the recipe and baked in a 9″x13″ stone bakeware rectangle shaped pan. I doubled all the ingredients exactly but it turned out a tad dry? It tasted absolutely delicious still. and was quickly gobbled up. I baked for 35 minutes and I realize maybe I baked it just a few minutes too long. Do you have any other tips for doubling the recipe to keep it moist? I used the oil, vinegar and vanilla as listed. For the remaining liquid I used 1/2 whole milk and 1/2 water. Could that be a factor? Also for other readers, I frosted with homemade vanilla frosting (2 sticks butter whipped with 1 3/4 c. powder sugar and 1 (heavy) tsp. vanilla) and it was delicious. It was still a hit at my son’s party. THANKS KAF! Also for readers with allergies, the cake is EGG-LESS!!!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Hi, Simone – I’m thinking perhaps the stoneware baker, since it transfers heat so slowly, basically dried the cake rather than baking it as quickly as it needed to bake. Beyond that, perhaps just bake it a bit less next time? Personally I haven’t found this cake to be dry; and the milk/water combo wouldn’t have contributed to this. Glad the folks at the party enjoyed it anyway – and welcome to “the terrible twos”! 🙂 PJH

    2. SIMONE54

      OK, after reviewing the recipe again, I don’t think I doubled the liquid!! I am going to remake tonight and will update my latest results shortly =)

  117. ellie

    I have loved this cake for-ev-er! Long ago I stopped mixing it in the pan, but rather in a ziptop bag. I put the dry ingredients in a gallon-sized bag and seal. Squeezing, massaging it to mix. I then add the liquid to a second, sandwich-sized bag and tuck it into the gallon bag for storage. I cut a bottom corner off after squeeze mixing it and pipe it into the pan. I came up with this idea to take it camping with us. — a take and bake we call it. We bake it in a cake pan that fits inside our Dutch oven and it beats S’mores for taste for my family.

  118. Cheryl

    this is the first cake I ever made, probably 45 years ago…I loved to watch it bubble after pouring in the vinegar…thanks for the memories:) I think I will have to make it again VERY soon!!

  119. Lisa K

    We have made this cake in my family for years. It was called “Stir Crazy Cake” and my mom would sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar on top before baking, which made a sweet, slightly crunchy topping, and no need for frosting!

  120. Beth

    Hate to be negative, but:
    What caught my eye about this recipe was the 138 calories for a piece of cake. I thought WoW!
    The picture shows an 8 x 8 pan or 9 x 9 pan cut into 9 servings. This is
    a decent size piece of cake. Then, when you scroll down to the bottom of the directions, it says 16 servings. So, which is it 9 servings for 138 calories or 16 servings for 138 calories? I’m pretty sure it’s 138 calories for a cake cut into 16 pieces. This is a pretty small serving. I think the 138 calories and then, a picture showing 9 pieces is deceiving.
    I’ve made this cake. It is quite tasty.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I am pleased you find this easy cake recipe delicious! We would love to get the nutrition information straightened out if needed and I also understand the confusion concerning the recipe’s picture and its yield. I will pass this feedback on to our Blog Team. Stay tuned and check back in a little while on for any possible updates. Happy baking! Elisabeth@KAF

  121. "cathy"

    Thanks for the memories P.J. One of those Three Ring Binder cookbooks was sent to me almost twenty-five years ago and I love it! I will be making this cake this week-end to pack in lunches for work this next week. Yum!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      YUM is right, Cathy. I know you’ll love this cake – as will its recipients in any lunch bags next week. Cheers! PJH

  122. pat

    This is what we call wacky cake, a recipe from my grandma. It is our favorite birthday cake, which I have trimmed into fish shapes, baseball designs, etc.
    Try using raspberry or cherry-balsamic vinegar for a subtle flavor shift. (I omit the expresso when I do this)

    1. Jbbaby

      Hi, is it possible to replace the vinegar with lemon juice instead? If yes, how much lemon juice to put? Thanks

  123. Patricia

    I just made this recipe, presently the cake is cooling in the pan, my comment is the centre is concave. I baked for the 35 minutes. I used robin hood regular flour,In place of the C of H2O I used half milk and half prepared coffee.
    Should I have used additional flour to compensate for Alberta’s altitude which is 3500ft?
    Much obliged

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Using a flour with a different protein content may have changed the structure of the cake, but you’re right in guessing you might want to look at high altitude adjustments. We have a guide on our website here: Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  124. Sheri

    Can someone tell me if the King Arthur Gluten Free Flour would work just the same with this recipe??? We are Gluten and Dairy Free.

  125. Beth Kanell

    I’ve used this recipe for 30+ years and it’s just about infallible (the only “miss” was right after moving, when the container for salt wasn’t labeled and I used it instead of sugar!). Adding espresso powder is a great modern change. The other option is to just replace the water with cold leftover coffee. I also usually add a handful of high-quality semisweet chocolate chips, in which case there’s no need at all for frosting — they stay almost soft and add that extra delish sensation.

  126. Arizona Dabbler

    I love this recipe. It was so easy to make. I did change the type of vinegar in the recipe though. I used a product from our area which is called Verde Valley Olive Oil Trader’s Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar/Cottonwood AZ instead of cider or white. It turned out with a chocolate/raspberry favor. I did not use the espresso or water, I used milk as suggested. The frosting I used Carnation canned milk in with the chips in stead of half and half. I did use the Dutch process cocoa. I had not used that kind of cocoa before and found it so much better than the usual cocoa. These changes worked well with your recipe. It baked up like your example picture plus it was so darn good. Wish now that I had a picture of it but my husband discovered it and it’s already half gone. 🙂

  127. Terri

    Just made this. Entire family loved it! It was perfect since my husband is lactose intolerant; he hadn’t had chocolate cake in quite a few years. I only had apple cider vinager. I didn’t know if it would make a difference. I don’t know what the results are using regular vinager but this cake was GREAT even with the different vinager. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  128. Cathy

    I really like this cake, but cannot eat chocolate anymore. Are there other flavors using this method? We would be especially interested in strawberry…

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Actually, we have several other versions in our 200th Anniversary cookbook on page 283. No strawberry, but 5 other variations are included. If you give us a call (800-827-6836) we would be happy to make a photocopy and send to your physical address. Elisabeth@KAF

  129. DeerPark Momma

    I made this cake this week and it is delicious! Moist and chocolatey! I didn’t have espresso in the house so I left that out and it was still delicious! Too chocolatey for my husband, but that means it was perfect for me! Love this and will be making it again and again!

  130. Rosie

    Can this recipe be doubled and baked in a 9×13 pan? I am making a graveyard cake for Halloween next weekend and would love to use this recipe.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Belle, when we serve this cake traditionally in the pan, we like to top it with the easy chocolate frosting described in the recipe, but it can be topped with any frosting you like! Our Super-Simple Chocolate Frosting ( could be nice, as would a chocolate buttercream. ( While this cake is a little lighter than most that are typically covered with fondant, there’s no reason you couldn’t do this as well. If you’re intending to serve the cake outside of the pan, make sure to line the bottom with parchment paper to make it easier to release. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  131. Sheryl

    I replaced the one cup of water with one cup of unsweetened, chocolate almond milk and still used the 1/2 tsp. espresso. RICH CHOCOLATEY flavor. Thank you for this! I’ve been wanting to do a cake without layers for a long time now because I don’t always feel like finding something to put between the layers and a layered cake with nothing between the layers is just naked to me. 🙁 I used the chocolate frosting from the hershey’s chocolate cake recipe to frost this cake with. I’ll cruise your site for more recipes. THANK YOU!!!

  132. Elizabeth

    Delicious and easy!

    My frosting did not set and was too soft. I used heavy cream and not the half & half mentioned in the recipe.

    Excellent cake. Just wondering why my frosting did not come out like the photo.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Did you use chocolate chips? If not, it could have been the chocolate. But if so, I’m not thinking of a good reason why the frosting wouldn’t have set: especially since you used heavy cream, which should have made it even thicker. Did you give it plenty of time, like several hours, to harden up? Please call our baker’s hotline if you’d like another opinion; as I said, I’m stumped! 🙂 PJH

  133. Renee

    I still appreciate this recipe as much as ever, but I was wondering if, by now, there is a tested vanilla or yellow version? Could I replace the cocoa with an equal amount of flour?
    Thanks for all of the wonderful testing and development you do, so we can feed the masses!!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Renee, there was a vanilla version of this wacky cake published in our old magazine called the Baking Sheet. You can view it by clicking on this link here. Following this tried and tested recipe will give you better results than trying to adjust the chocolate version. Bonus: there’s also a coconut cake pan cake on that same page that you can check out and try. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

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