Quarantine Cake

We are not professional bloggers with professional cameras, but I assure you it’s tasty.

No eggs, no milk, no problem!

Quarantine Cake, aka Crazy Cake, Wacky Cake, Depression Cake, and who knows what other names. I originally got this recipe from my grandmother, who probably got it from my great grandmother, and it was a standard homemade birthday cake when ice cream cake wasn’t on the menu. The recipe rose to prominence during the Great Depression and only became more popular during World War II. There are no eggs or dairy in the recipe, no exotic ingredients, it’s fun for kids because it relied on the reaction between vinegar and baking soda to get its lift. Works fine with gluten free flours and works better than standard recipes for a microwave mug cake.

Without further ado, the base recipe:

Crazy Cake


  • 1 1/2 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C), find your 8×8 pan (or use a 9×13 and double the recipe).
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together in mixing bowl. Make three depressions then, pour oil into one well, vinegar into the second, and vanilla into the third. Pour water over all, and stir well. I prefer to use a fork for all of this. NOTE: The traditional way to do this is to sift all the dry ingredients directly into the baking pan and proceed in the pan. Kids think this is cool which is worth it, but you’ll get a mouth full of unmixed flour at some point.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (it’s very wet) or until a toothpick/skewer/fondue fork/piece of spaghetti, comes out clean.


  1. Apple Cake – Substitute 1 Tablespoon apple pie spice for cocoa, apple cider vinegar for white vinegar, and applesauce for half the oil.
  2. Cider Donut Cake – Make the apple cake above, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar like a farm stand cider donut.
  3. Red Velvet Cake – Honestly? Do as above but dump in a ton of red food coloring and top with homemade cream cheese frosting. Replace the water with thin buttermilk (either half-and-half buttermilk and water or buttermilk made with the powdered buttermilk) if you have it.
  4. Peanut Butter Chocolate – Frost with 1/8 cup PB, 1/2 Cup brown sugar, 1/8 Cup milk, and 1/8 Cup softened butter, creamed, spread, then placed under broiler until brown and bubbly.
  5. Graham Cake – 1 Cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour, sub light brown sugar for white sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon for cocoa, and optionally add 1 Tablespoon honey.
  6. S’mores Cake – Make graham cake but stir in chocolate chips. Top with marshmallows or marshmallow fluff spread and broil briefly until the top is brown.
  7. Pumpkin Cake – Sub 1 Cup light brown sugar for white sugar, 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice for cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon almond extract for vanilla (or do both if you’re me), sub apple cider vinegar for white, and optionally sub pumpkin puree for half of the oil.
  8. “Gourmet” Crazy Cake – Substitute 1 Cup of hot coffee or espresso for the water and whisk the cocoa into it to bloom the cocoa for a stronger chocolate flavor. Allow the liquid to cool before adding to the other ingredients.

If you glance at the variants you can see the proportions that need to stay the same for this to work and make your own versions, which brings us to our version for tonight:

St. Paddy’s Cake

Simple replace the water with flat stout, Guinness will do fine, or I have a chocolate stout I’m planning on using. Leave out the vanilla. Top with a cream cheese or boiled frosting heaped up to look like a head of beer.

Before I go and actually bake this cake today (the kids want to help so I’ll update with pictures later), there’s this for folks who are self-isolating alone: Microwave Mug Crazy Cake from Sweet Little Blue Bird. I actually have to divide this recipe into three regular sized coffee mugs, so it is generous.

Good luck, have a merry St, Patrick’s Day.

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