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Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake recipe has stayed with me through all the stages of my life as an easy, go to chocolate cake. It’s also called, “Wacky Cake” or “Chocolate Depression Cake.”  It mixes up in one bowl and is a delicious dairy free chocolate cake. Super easy and super delicious!

Why so crazy? Well, let’s start at the beginning, which was when I was in sixth grade…(That’s right, sixth grade…so you might want to go get yourself a drink or something :)

I had a friend who was already in middle school and she was taking home economics. She told me about this new recipe they made, called, “Crazy Cake.”

She said it was a super easy cake to make and it was really delicious. As a passionate, but novice baker, I was excited to try it, so she gave me the recipe.

A square slice of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake on a plate from

Why is it called, “Crazy Cake”?

The first reason why this cake is crazy is because you don’t even need a bowl to make it! You can mix it up in the same pan you bake it in!

You just whisk together your dry ingredients, then make three holes and add your oil to one, vinegar to another and finally vanilla to the last one.

Then you pour water over all of it and mix it up and bake it. Anyway, that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

A slice of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake on a dish with a fork from

The recipe she gave me on a little slip of paper, however, did not say to mix it up.

And I, being a dutiful rule follower, did not mix it up.

I even went against the advice of any clear thinking adult in the room because I thought the whole reason it was crazy was because you just poured the water over all of those dry ingredients and baked it and out popped a delicious chocolate cake! #fantasybaking

A slice of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake being lifted from the main pan from

And what do you think popped out of the oven? Yep, a big wet pan of flour, water and all of the other ingredients that never were incorporated.

It was clear this cake needed some mixing. But it was too late. It was a soggy hot mess of cake ingredients. It was such an easy cake to make, I decided to try it again, this time, writing “MIX UNTIL WELL BLENDED” at the bottom of the recipe in my best 6th grade penmanship.

This time, out popped a fluffy, moist, delicious chocolate cake! I’m not certain, but it might have been the first cake I ever made by myself.

I never frosted it. We (my brothers and sisters) could barely wait for that. We liked eating it warm out of the oven plain or with just a dusting of powdered sugar.

A slice of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with main pan in background from

The second reason why this cake is crazy is because I’ve taken it through an update and am now using olive oil in it!

You know I love a good olive oil cake like this Orange Olive Oil Cake or these Lemon Thyme Olive Oil Cakelets. I figured this decades old recipe could become part of the olive oil cake family.

Of course, the olive oil is perfect in it! I love using olive oil whenever possible because I prefer it’s health benefits. And, if we’re eating cake, we might as well add a few health benefits if we can, right?

Oh, and then I added espresso powder, because I have it in my pantry and try to use it every time I’m baking something chocolate. The espresso powder really enhances the chocolate flavor.

A close up of two slices of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake from

Who knew this recipe would also save me when I started baking for vegan friends?

That’s right, the third reason this cake is crazy is because it needs no dairy based ingredients! (Okay, so maybe that should have been the first reason…)

Anyway, you can make it even if you have no eggs, no butter, no milk on hand!

But I……I had heavy cream and chocolate on hand :) and therefore, I knew I would be making ganache. As I mentioned, I actually rarely frost this cake.

But this time, yes this time, there was going to be ganache! I could hardly wait to pour that luscious chocolatey goodness all over the cake.

Chocolate ganache being poured onto Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake from

I didn’t wait for the ganache to cool.

As soon as it became glossy and wonderful, onto the cake it went!

You’ll see some of the shots of cake pieces have glossy ganache and some of the shots are after it set up to a more fudgy frosting. Soooo good either way!

A fork spearing a slice of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake from

And if you’re me, and the ganache has already set up, you take a piece and warm it for a few seconds in the microwave and have warm hot fudge cake with a scoop of ice cream. Definitely a winning move. Trust me on that.

Or, be like my daughter who didn’t want it warmed up; she ate the cake first, having pulled the full layer of fudgy ganache off in one big sheet to save for last. #fathersdaughter

This Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake is crazy indeed. It’s an old cake (much older than I) and there are more than a few recipes with various names out there for it.

This one is crazy easy, crazy delicious  and here’s the thing…I don’t do the whole mix it up in one pan anymore (what?!?)

I must have been scarred by that first attempt years ago, or perhaps I’ve baked too many scratch cakes. I prefer to just mix up the dry, mix up the wet then combine them for the best result.

So, let’s just say I don’t follow the directions. Yep, I’m a rebel now, carving out my own path and writing my own rules…

A fork cutting a piece from a slice of Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake from

I know. Crazy, right?

Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Crazy Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Use one bowl or just mix it up right in the baking pan. Vegan friendly on it's own or add ganache for real treat!


  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, I used Double Dutch Dark Cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional, see note
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups cold water

For the Ganache:

  • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13" x 9" lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and espresso powder, if using.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, vanilla, olive oil and water. (I used a 4 cup liquid measuring cup and measured the water and oil in it, then added the vanilla and vinegar.)
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Set aside to cool.
  6. Make ganache. In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  7. Pour ganache over cake and spread evenly.


*If you want to make the cake completely in your baking pan, whisk all of the dry ingredients together in the pan. Make three holes and place vanilla, vinegar and oil individually into each hole. Pour water over all, then mix until fully combined. Bake as per directions in recipe.

*For nice clean cuts once the ganache sets, place your cutting knife in a tall mug of very hot water for a minute to heat up. Wipe it dry and proceed to cut, reheating the knife in the hot water as necessary.

*Store cake covered at room temperature. For longer storage, you can wrap cake slices individually in waxed paper and freeze in plastic freezer bags.

*You can use regular unsweetened cocoa or dutch processed cocoa in this recipe. The better quality your cocoa, the better your cake will taste. Try different kinds and you'll taste the difference.

*The espresso powder is optional. I only used a 1/2 teaspoon, but you could use a full teaspoon if you're not sensitive to coffee flavor. You could eliminate it, or dissolve some instant coffee in the water part of the recipe. Or, you could use brewed coffee (cold) instead of the water for more coffee flavor.

*Update 2-7-16...One more crazy thing about this recipe.. I thought it tasted better on day 3 than on day 1! My friend also made it and was surprised how the flavors developed after a couple of days. She texted me that she was in disbelief that every day that passed, the cake's flavor improved. Of course, it stays perfectly moist for all that time. Just another great bonus to this super easy cake! Cake recipe adapted from a childhood friend's home economics class.

Ganache from Alton Brown

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2016

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Thursday 28th of December 2023

Your nutritional information is a laugh. I’m sorry but I medically need to know carbs and I’m sure others need more also.


Wednesday 24th of January 2024

Hi Carol, I apologize that there was a problem with the nutritional information part of the recipe. I don't generally provide that information because I often find that the software that calculates it can be inaccurate. Unfortunately, we were updating a function on our recipe cards and the nutrition box popped back up. Of course, since we hadn't populated any information, it seemed like there were crazy numbers, when, in fact, there wasn't supposed to be any nutrition information showing up at all. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. I think it's been fixed, so the box of crazy numbers is now gone. I would encourage you to use a nutrition calculator that you trust, especially since you want accurate information for a medical issue. I sometimes use this one when I need the information for personal use However, if it's critical that it be super accurate, I calculate the information manually. I hope this helps.


Monday 2nd of May 2022

Hello Rosa i would like to make thise lovely cacke but as i'm italian we use diferent Misure....could you please tell me the recepie in gramms... Thanks


Monday 2nd of May 2022

Hi Daria, here are two links that will help you convert the recipe for your needs for cups to grams... and for tablespoons to grams Hope that helps! Just remember to put in the proper ingredient because weights will vary with different ingredients.


Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Excellent moist chocolate cake when I made half of the recipe using brown rice flour (1.5 cups) and xantham gum (0.25 tsp) and baked in an 8” x 8” pan.


Thursday 21st of October 2021

Thanks for tips on successful substitutions, Rose!


Sunday 28th of February 2021

Hi..I only have red wine vinegar..can I use that ?


Sunday 28th of February 2021

Hi Lulu, I've never tried it so I'm not completely sure. I think one issue may be that the acidity levels are different and may throw off the balance of of acid to the baking soda. If you decide to experiment, I would make a half recipe for testing purposes in case you don't like the outcome.


Sunday 1st of November 2020

Tried it and it's really good ! Thankyou !


Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

You're welcome, Rasika! Glad you enjoyed it. If you have any leftovers, the flavor will continue to develop on days 2 and 3 :)

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