(Please excuse the poor photos. This cake was a bake and take and I couldn’t plate it or cut into it to show you but I am telling you that you want this recipe!)
OK, the name of this cake isn’t the most appealing ever, but trust me when I tell you it is good. This recipe is also the key to weeknight baking. You can put this together in mere minutes, it bakes in under a half hour and while it cools you can whip up the frosting. Boom.
I have seen this cake called Whacky Cake or Depression Cake because it does not use butter, milk or eggs. Another reason you can whip this up so quickly is because you likely have all the ingredients in your pantry.
I grew up eating this cake and just a taste of it brings back so many fond memories. It is great with a chocolate frosting, a dusting of powdered sugar, a cream cheese frosting or plain. BUT, our favorite has to be a peanut butter frosting. Chocolate + peanut butter? Best of both worlds.
You can make this in a traditional 13×9 cake pan or make them thinner in a jelly roll pan similar to a cakey brownie. It is a very forgiving and versatile recipe. The batter will be thin and slightly lumpy but don’t worry. You only need one bowl and I have even seen it mixed and made in the actual cake pan before.
A quick note on the frosting. Again, another forgiving recipe. Short a cup of powdered sugar? You’ll be fine. You only have cream, not milk? Again, fine. A bit short of peanut butter or added an extra scoop? No worries. Make it to your taste.
Chocolate Vinegar Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
- 3 cups AP flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups warm water
Peanut Butter Frosting
- ½ cup butter, room temp (1 stick)
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (Jif or Skippy or similar)
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼-1/2 cup milk
Cake: Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together to a whisk to incorporate. Add vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla and water. Whisk together until incorporated. There might be a few lumps but don’t worry. Batter will be quite thin.
Pour into greased 9×13 cake pan or you could use a jelly roll pan for thinner cake. Bake 9×13 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and center doesn’t jiggle.
Remove from oven and let cool completely while you assemble frosting.
Frosting: Combine butter and peanut butter in a medium bowl and mix on medium speed until combined and smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping sides as needed. I use a hand mixer for this but a stand mixer would work also. Add in half the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Add in vanilla and half the milk and mix together. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and as much milk as needed. Add more milk for a creamier frosting. Often times it might depend on the temperature and weather on how much milk you might need. I prefer more milk and slightly less powdered sugar.
Frost cake and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well covered on the counter but I like to put them in the fridge. Cake freezes well but really, eat it up while it is fresh!
Optional – top with sprinkles, chocolate chips or cut up peanut butter cups (OMG, winner idea).
I made this cake for a group of guys that were working cattle. It is easy, crowd pleasing and so delicious. Enjoy!