Chocolate Depression Cake in a Mug-- by Real Food Girl: Unmodified
Desserts,  Snacks

Chocolate Depression Cake in a Mug

We have 11 weeks until we pack up our entire home here in MN and move down to SC.  I’m starting to panic.  Just a little.  I have to have a somewhat major surgery in a few weeks, I have a house to sell, I have a moving/garage sale to organize, there is packing and deep cleaning that still needs to be done and I’m starting to wonder if one 26 foot U-Haul is going to be enough to hold all our stuff.

Because I have no idea if that U-Haul is going to hold everything, I decided to start using up as much of my pantry baking staples as I could so I wouldn’t have as many items to pack.  A quick scan of my pantry and cupboards and I realized I have a lot of chocolate that really should be used up, so this week it’s all about chocolate here at Real Food Girl: Unmodified.

Some of you have asked me to give you recipes using Raw Cocoa, and I promise I will do that, but for now, I’m using what I have on hand because like most of you I’m on a budget and I need to save my pennies for our move.  If you want recipes using raw cocoa sooner than that, please feel free to send me money.  I’ll take small, unmarked bills in non-sequential order please.  I’m really not picky.

I’ve been craving chocolate cake lately, which is kind of strange because I’m allergic to chocolate.  I have managed to build up a tolerance to it so that I can enjoy a brownie or a piece of fudge or some hot chocolate from time to time, but anything more than a small serving and things get ugly pretty quickly.  Aren’t you glad you know this?  I bet you are.

Because it’s been a little too humid to bake my chocolate layer cake (I will be baking that at some point this week, so stay tuned for the recipe) I decided to “bake” something a little easier and a lot faster than an entire layer cake pimped out with a pound of chocolate buttercream.  I enlisted the help of my Internet Butler.  His name is Google.  No, you can’t have him. Get your own butler.  Anyway, Google is great at finding me things I’m looking for and he led me right to this adorable little blog called Sweet Little Blue Bird.  I even happen to know that woman that runs the blog.  I feel kind of special when I become acquainted with or become friends with famous bloggers.  Don’t you?   She had this recipe for Crazy Cake in a Mug.  I knew I this had to be the first recipe I featured for my All About Chocolate Week.

Have you ever heard of ‘Crazy Cake’ or ‘Whacky Cake’?  How about ‘Depression Cake‘?  Hopefully one of these names rings a bell with you because today that’s what I’m sharing with you.  Crazy/Whacky/Depression Cake.

I did a little research on this cake and there are so many names for it.  Here are several examples: War Cake, Depression Cake, Eggless-Butterless-Milkless-Cake, Whacky Cake, Busy Day Cake, Crazy Cake, Lazy Wife Cake, Boiled Raisin Cake, and Boiled Chocolate Cake.  Personally I don’t find anything whacky or crazy about this cake, and I sure as Gehenna won’t be using raisins, so we’ll be skipping that particular rendition of this cake.  Lastly, I felt if I were to call this Lazy Wife Cake, I’d get hate mail.  I don’t like hate mail.  As a Real Food Blogger, I get enough snarkiness from haters so I don’t need to purposefully solicit additional douchecanoe haters.  Know what I mean?

Chocolate Depression Cake in a Mug-- by Real Food Girl: Unmodified This cake is NOT called Depression Cake because it is something you’re supposed to eat when you are depressed nor will it make you depressed if you eat it.  On the off chance that you happen to currently be depressed, consider that you may possibly need some chocolate cake.  I certainly won’t begrudge someone with the blues a mug of rich, chocolately-cakey happiness.

There two reasons behind why this is called Depression Cake.  The first is that this recipe was rather famous during the Great Depression because it made a moist chocolate cake without expensive ingredients such as eggs, butter or milk.  Yes, I did just say that this cake is made without eggs, butter or milk!  The second reason is because you put little depressions into the dry ingredients and pour liquid ingredients into those depressions. Technically that makes this a Double Depression Cake, but that’s like the saddest recipe title ever in the history of sad recipe titles and cake should illicit thoughts of blissful, nirvana like happiness, not wretched melancholy and despondency.  Wouldn’t you agree?

You may be asking, “How on Earth does one make a cake without eggs, butter or milk?”  I’m super glad you asked and I have the answer.  You use vinegar and baking soda!  No lie my Food Hippies; it’s vinegar and baking soda.  The combinations of these two ingredients help the cake rise.  Another interesting tidbit is that this is how the original Red Velvet cakes were made.  You didn’t use an entire little tube of red food coloring derived from the crushed up bodies of some creepy bug’s anal secretions, you used vinegar, buttermilk and cocoa.   I’ll spare you the chemistry lesson on how those three ingredients react to make the cake have a reddish hue so you’ll just have to trust me.  Depending on the type of cocoa that you use you may end up with a reddish hue to your Depression Cake.  I did, but I’m not sure if that shows up as much as I’d like in the photos I took.  When you look at Mary’s photos vs. mine you’ll see a huge difference in color.

Another reason I wanted to feature this cake was because some times you just want cake but the thought of heating up the entire house to bake a cake is the last thing you want to do, and this recipe can be enjoyed any time of the year because you make it in your microwave.  It takes less than 7 minutes from start to finish to make one of these cakes.  I let mine cool for about 15 minutes before I slathered on some homemade whipped cream, and a drizzle of some of my homemade chocolate syrup/sauce.  This was typically finished off with powdered sugar, so feel free to try that, or whip up some ganache, or drizzle on some homemade caramel sauce.  Whatever floats your boat people.  Just make the cake.

Chocolate Depression Cake in a Mug-- by Real Food Girl: Unmodified

Chocolate Depression Cake in a Mug

Recipe adapted from: Sweet Little Blue Bird
Serves: One
Time: 7 minutes



  • 5 TB organic unbleached AP flour
  • 3 Tablespoon organic cane sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. organic cocoa powder (unsweetened, and can be dark, Dutch processed, or regular)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Rounded 1/8 tsp. kosher salt


  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. organic safflower or organic sunflower or organic coconut oil (if using coconut oil, melt it)
  • 4 1/2 TB warm water  (if using coconut oil, make sure the water is at least 80 degrees)

Choocolate Depression Cake #Real Food Girl: Unmodified


  1. Using a large microwave safe mug (I used a Pampered Chef Simple Additions mug) grease the inside of the mug with some softened organic butter.
  2. Next, mix the first 5 dry ingredients in a small bowl.  After mixing the dry ingredients, carefully pour the mixture into the prepared mug.  Go ahead and make 3 depressions in dry ingredients with your finger.  See my photo above.
  3. Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in the other and the oil in third depression.  Pour the warm water over top.  Mix well until smooth using a fork.
  4. Place in microwave and cook on high for *2 minutes, uncovered. Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.  Be sure not to over cook!
    *Each microwave oven cooks differently, adjust the time accordingly!  I personally made this cake in 1 minute 45 seconds, and Mary over at Pretty Little Blue Bird states that one of her readers made it in 1 minute 20 seconds and another in 1 minute 40 seconds.  If you overcook the cake, it may ruin it, so please be sure to keep an eye on it as it bakes.
Chocolate Depression Cake in a Mug-- by Real Food Girl: Unmodified
You’re drooling again, aren’t you?


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Classically trained Cordon Bleu chef turned anti-GMO, pro-organic, food hippie blogger with a passion for REAL food.


  • sk

    Holy Christ! That’s a soft cake. Not as chocolate-y as I like, but wow, I think the key lies in taking out at the right moment.I stopped to check mine at 1.15 mins and took it out at 1.25 mins. I accidentally added 1/2 tsp of soda and had to increase vinegar to 1 tsp, making it too vinegar-y but it was still one of the best textured cakes I’ve made.The last time I made it from Mary’s blog the depressions merged into one another, this time they didn’t. I really think that makes a difference b/w rubbery/gummy and proper mug cakes.

  • Heather

    This is a favorite family recipe that’s been passed down from my great-grandmother that is made for almost every family party. We call it wacky cake and make a fudge frosting for it. It bakes great for cupcakes as well!

  • Sherry

    Growing up, this was Wacky Cake and the Eggless, Butterless Milkless cake was a spice cake that DID have raisins, so they were 2 entirely different critters. Thank you for shrinking this one to mug size!

  • Jacqueline @ BakeItWithBooze

    Hi! I just discovered you through the Daily Meal’s Culinary Content Network – so glad you joined! It’s a toasty 106 degrees where I am in California, so I’m pretty excited about this mug cake. I have to echo the other comments that this one looks/sounds MUCH tastier than most mug cakes floating around on Pinterest, etc. Thanks for sharing this with us =)

    • Real Food Girl

      Holy! That is toasty. It’s been SO unseasonable cool here in MN. We’ve been in the 60s and it’s been raining most days. I know you will like this cake. It really is much, much better than the other ones I’ve tried. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Aimee

    I just made this with some gluten free flour. Hopefully it turns out! 15 min is way too long to wait for cake to cool!!!!! 🙂

  • Valerie Gardner

    What a neat recipe! Other “mug” cakes I’ve seen look nasty but this one looks faboo!!! May have to try it for the hubs and myself!! I’m gonna have a look at Sweet Little Blue Bird’s blog, too! So thanks for that tip, as well!

  • Karen Bogan

    I started following you a few months ago, and have enjoyed a lot of the information and recipes that you have given out. I wanted to let you know that I have had the surgery that you have coming up in a few weeks, and would love to be a source of encouragement and support. I can I understand what you’re going through because I’ve been down this road myself. The good news is you’re doing much more proactively to take care of yourself then I was. Feel free to contact me at any time, sending you best wishes for a smooth transition, and speedy recovery! Karen

    • Real Food Girl

      Karen, that is so sweet of you. Thank you very much. I will most certainly reach out to you as I have no idea what to expect. I’m being told I’ll be tired and sore for about a week, but then should return to my normal routine. I started feeling so amazing after switching to Real Food/Organic and non-GMO that once I was hit with this current medical issue there was no way in heck I wasn’t going to get to the bottom of it so I could go back to feeling amazing!!

  • Mary

    Your cake turned out wonderful! I’m so happy you were able to adapt the recipe. I love that you made homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream for your cake! Yum!

    I didn’t realize all of the things going on in your life…best of luck on your surgery – hope everything goes well. Have a wonderful adventure to SC!

    When times start to feel overwhelming with everything going on, take a few minutes…eat some cake! 🙂

    Thanks so much for the feature! Cheers! 🙂

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