This humble yet delicious style of dairy-free chocolate cake originated during the Depression era, when ingredients like eggs, milk, and butter had to be rationed carefully. That said, there is nothing depressing about this one-bowl chocolate cake. Beyond being incredibly simple to mix up, our Chocolate Depression Cake boasts a decadent cocoa flavor and outstanding moisture. The cake is delicious as is, but to take it up a notch, try whisking up the equally easy chocolate frosting we’ve included here. 

Recipe by Well Done


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

10 mins
1 hr 10 mins
Serves 10 (serving size: 1 slice)


Ingredient Checklist
FROSTING (optional)


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray with flour, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until incorporated. Add water, oil, and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Pour cake batter into prepared cake pan, and bake in preheated oven until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. 

  • Let cool on a wire rack until completely cooled, about 30 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter. If desired, top with berries and dust with powdered sugar.

  • If using Frosting: Whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder until well combined. Whisk in water, vanilla, and salt, and mix until smooth. Spread icing over cooled cake.