HT Foodie

Hometown Foodie – How To Make A Depression Cake

#foodie-all – by Ellen Britt.

Depression Cake

This cake was popular during the Great Depression, as it includes no milk, sugar, butter or eggs, as these were either very expensive or really hard to get. And yes, this cake counts as comfort food!! <3

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.


1 and ½ cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar (you can use a bit less if this is too sweet for your taste)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda (not powder!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon white vinegar

⅓ cup oil (I used half olive oil and half unsweetened applesauce to make ⅓ cup total)

1 cup water


The original frosting is just a dusting of powdered sugar, but since I had butter and oat milk, I made the frosting.

2 Tablespoons butter (I used Kerrygold Irish grass fed. Would have used Miyoko’s plant based butter if I had it.)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup powdered sugar (I know, it looks like a lot, but the butter will absorb it)

1 Tablespoon plant milk (or regular milk if you use it)

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Cake

Combine the dry ingredients:  flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, vinegar, oil and water. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and no lumps remain. 

But don’t over mix. (You will likely see some bubbles, as the acid vinegar in the wet ingredients reacts with the baking soda in the dry ingredients. This is what gives the cake it’s lift.

Pour batter into a greased 8×8 square pan.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool somewhat then tap it out onto a plate to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting –

Melt the butter in a medium bowl, in the microwave or a small saucepan until just melted. Stir in the cocoa powder and mix well to form a paste.

Then gradually add (stirring all the time) the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until all is absorbed and stir until frosting is smooth and spreadable. If it’s too thick, add a little milk a spoonful at a time until it’s just right.

When your cake is cool, spread the frosting over the surface, then cut the cake and enjoy!!