This easy vanilla wacky cake recipe, also referred to as vanilla crazy cake, is made with minimal ingredients. It’s a perfect casual weeknight dessert. Or you can dress it up with frosting and sprinkles for a fancy weekend dessert.
This is a vanilla version of my Chocolate Wacky Cake, both are amazing in their own ways!
We are loving this white wacky cake recipe because it’s rich and delicious, but oh-so-easy to make. I love it because a wacky cake recipe requires minimal ingredients and a few minutes to throw together.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Made without eggs or milk, like all the wacky cake recipes, it’s a perfect vegan cake
- Stir-only ingredients mean you won’t need to get out your mixer for this cake
- The use of apple cider vinegar adds tenderness to the cake while providing a lift to make a nice, fluffy, and delicious cake
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Flour — I use all-purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour (which is different than whole wheat flour).
- Sugar — I recommend granulated sugar or raw sugar. You can reduce the sugar a bit, but sugar helps build cake structure, thus making a moist cake. Reducing it too much can make the cake dry.
- Baking soda — Make sure yours is fresh by testing a bit of it in vinegar. If it bubbles, your batch is good.
- Vegetable oil — Just about any vegetable oil should do here, such as canola oil. You can substitute melted coconut oil.
- Apple cider vinegar — You can substitute white vinegar.
- Vanilla Extract
How to Make Vanilla Wacky Cake
- Stir together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, like the flour and sugar.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together.
- Make the batter by pouring the water mixture in with the flour mixture, and then stirring until just combined.
- Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.
- Make cupcakes by putting cupcake papers in a muffin pan. Fill each with the batter until about 3/4 full. Bake them for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- For a 9×13 cake, double the recipe and pour the batter into a prepared 9×13 cake pan. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Make a layer cake by doubling the recipe and baking the cakes in two round pans for 30 minutes.
Vegan Frosting Ideas
- Vegan Chocolate Ganache — Place 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, add 1/2 cup rich, creamy plant-based milk (like coconut milk or thick and creamy vegan creamer). Heat this in the microwave for one minute and then let it sit until the chocolate melts. Stir it and then pour it over the cake.
- Chocolate Buttercream
- Oreo Frosting
- Vegan Vanilla Buttercream
- Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- Strawberry Frosting — Use the frosting from this vegan strawberry cake
- Vegan Chocolate Ganache
- Be sure to have the oven preheated to 350°F/175°C before mixing the wet and dry vanilla depression cake ingredients together.
- Want to try a banana wacky cake? Add a mashed banana to the batter and enjoy the moisture that bananas add.
Vanilla wacky cake recipes are like the little black dress of cakes. You can eat it casually on a Thursday night, or you can dress it up (by adding another layer), and voila! It’s ready for prime time.
Why is it called wacky cake?
The wacky cake, sometimes referred to as a depression cake recipe, was created as a result of a lack of access to certain food products, such as eggs and dairy. I guess they thought a cake without eggs or milk was wacky! So, there you have it, a wacky cake is named because of the paradigm shift it caused. The Food Timeline places the first mention of the Wacky Cake around 1940.
Why do you put vinegar in cake?
Vinegar is necessary for the wacky cake recipe because it creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda, causing lift and rise which is necessary for high, fluffy cakes.
This vanilla wacky cake is so simple, it’s a favorite go-to dessert. Here are even more vegan cake recipes you’ll love!
Any of these would make a great dairy-free birthday cake recipe, too.
Vanilla Wacky Cake
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Powdered sugar or Chocolate Frosting (see below for topping**)
- Heat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Spray a round cake pan with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and spray the sides with vegetable oil.
- Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Stir to combine.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or top with Chocolate Frosting**
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.