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Depression Cakes: Eggless, Milkless, Butterless Baking

Updated on February 10, 2012

What is a Depression Cake?

Depression cake got it's name from a cake that was typically made during the Great Depression. This type of cake is also good for people with certain food allergies, because they are usually made without milk, eggs, or butter.

I will give some recipes and more information about these cakes in this lens.

Chocolate Depression Bundt Cake Recipe

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup water

9 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Whisk together sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Next, pour in water, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and vinegar, whisking thoroughly, until the batter comes together and is quite smooth.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cake as cooled, you can top with a glaze of your choice if desired.

Chocolate Depression Cake

For those who love chocolate...


1 2/3 cup flour

1 cup brown or white sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1/3 cup oil

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. vinegar


Grease and flour 8x8 inch pan, or you can double this recipe and use a 9x13 inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thoroughly mix together all ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

You can decorate the top of this cake by sprinkling it with powdered sugar while the cake is still hot if desired.

Why vinegar in a cake recipe?

Vinegar is an acid, and it reacts with the baking soda to start a chemical reaction that makes the batter rise as it bakes. This is especially important when there are no eggs in the recipe.

Dont worry, though, you won't taste the vinegar in the finished product!

Another version of the depression cake recipe

This recipe has a flavor like a spice cake.


2 cups sugar

2 cups water, apple juice, or strong coffee

1/2 cup shortening

2 cups raisins or pitted prunes

1 medium apple, peeled and shredded

2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup nuts can be added if you like, but not required

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan, simmer water (or coffee or apple juice) sugar, shortening, raisins, and apple together for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Cool another 10 minutes.

In large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and nuts (if desired). Pour cooled sugar-raisin mixture into dry ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cookbooks with more eggless recipes

The Voluptuous Vegan: More Than 200 Sinfully Delicious Recipes for Meatless, Eggless, and Dairy-Free Meals
The Voluptuous Vegan: More Than 200 Sinfully Delicious Recipes for Meatless, Eggless, and Dairy-Free Meals

There are many great reasons to eat vegetarian meals --  they're low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and chock-full of nutrients. But the considerable health benefits aside, gourmets often scoff at the likes of seitan and tofu, while vegans despair of dull, uninspired offerings. Until now. In The Voluptuous Vegan, Myra Kornfeld introduces creative, mouthwatering, truly voluptuous recipes that inject this incredibly healthy cuisine with a much-needed dose of culinary mastery, including:* full, balanced menus with appetizer, main course, and side dishes * a luscious array of soups and an ingenious selection of desserts * invaluable information on terms, ingredients, and techniques* a culinary world tour including Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle Fast, as well as Europe and the United States


Please share your comments, and let me know you visited!

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    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i have never heard of depression cake. Maybe i should try this when i am down

    • caketech profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @sweetstickyrainbo: I have heard that too. I haven't tried it in brownies, but I have used it in beans. Vinegar can be very useful.

    • sweetstickyrainbo profile image


      5 years ago

      is there anything vinegar can't do? I have heard of using beans in brownies

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I have never heard of using vinegar. I like the option though. Sometimes cake ingredients are hard to come by where I live.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Bless you for adding the depression spice cake. I've been looking for this exact recipe for years. I had this in my recipe box long ago, but lost it during a cross country move. Though I remembered most of the recipe, I forgot the amount of shortening, so it never came out right.

    • caketech profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: You're welcome! If you try them, let me know how you like them!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for these recipes - I cannot eat dairy or eggs so I really like it when I find some way of making things I miss.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These cake recipes is really just what I need. We are going through a really rough patch so we need 'depression' cakes

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      6 years ago

      Good to know and be prepared... so Thanks for a useful yummy lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      That's a great recipe. My brother moved the the States some time ago and this is one his wife's favorites.

    • fionajean profile image


      7 years ago from South Africa

      Was wondering how on earth you got a cake made without eggs and butter - now I know

    • KANEsUgAr profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow thank you so much for this lens. My grandma made an amazing chocolate depression cake. But no-one managed to duplicate it before she passed away. Cuz it was a dash of this, pinch of that.

    • sagebrushmama profile image


      7 years ago

      My teenagers love to make the Mix-in-the-Pan cake, from my Fanny Farmer book, which also uses the vinegar...I didn't know the reason for the vinegar, though, until I read your lens!

    • Demaw profile image


      7 years ago

      I use vinegar for many things but never for making a cake. I definitely will try the cake recipes.

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Interesting. What's the cake's texture and flavor like with no eggs or butter?

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done. Lensrolled to my Depression Era lens. (Don't forget to change the default Table of Contents title.)

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 

      8 years ago

      These look really yummy!! Surprised to see so much sugar in them, as I THINK that was a rationed item at the time, but...what do I know? LOL Can't wait to try them! Thanks for sharing!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      there are also Depression era pies like the faux apple pie made with Ritz crackers instead of apples.

    • thesuccess2 profile image


      8 years ago

      These recipes also work when you are out of lots of other ingredients!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      8 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      These sound like yummy recipes and perfect for when I want to bake something for my vegan friends.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      This sounds interesting! We will try it when we study that time period for our school work this year. : )

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      8 years ago from Vermont

      I have an eggless raisin cake recipe that probably came from the Great Depression or WWII. It's delicious, nevertheless, and I make it during the holidays along with banana nut bread.

    • LotusMalas profile image


      8 years ago

      "little or no milk, sugar, butter or eggs" probably means healthier as well. This sounds really interesting - I want to try one!

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      8 years ago

      My grandmother always talked about having Depression cakes. These recipes are actually perfect for my dairy intolerant family. Thanks for sharing these recipes.

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 

      8 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I make a chocolate cake that seems to be a lot like a Depression Cake. It is from a Marlboro cowboy recipe book. It was taken from early chuckwagon recipes. It tastes good - - so I think these will taste good too. I can't wait to try them. Thanks for sharing these! :-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      These recipes look delicious, I'm passing the link on to my daughter. She can't eat anything with dairy products in it.

      I love the lens. I'm rating 5*****, lensrolling to my "Recipes & Stuff for People Who Hate to Cook" -- I don't like to cook. Also Joining your Fan Club.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      The women who came up with these ideas were so clever. In comparison, we have it so much easier!

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      The women who came up with these ideas were so clever. In comparison, we have it so much easier!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh my goodness ... I am thinking about my mother and grandparents going through The Depression and they surely must have made depression cakes. You know, I never really thought about that ... and I surely do hope we don't have to repeat it again in our lifetimes.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is wonderful! I love scratch cake mixes! Great job!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      ReFashionables here - allergic to eggs and milk. Thanks, Lisa for letting me know you posted this! That chocolate cake is absolutely wonderful! Left you a link to my favorite egg-free dairy-free and nut-free cookbook. =)


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