This Lemon Crazy cake is egg and dairy free and super easy to make.
Most of you probably know crazy cake, also called wacky cake or depression cake. It is not very known in Europe, at least not by that name. If you search for it’s origins, the first documented recipes date back to the 1940’s. A time where certain foods were hard to come buy or were utterly expensive, like butter, eggs and milk. Hence the name depression cake. You had to make use of what was available and leave out what you could not get or afford.
No eggs, butter or milk
So this recipe uses no eggs, butter or milk. Those ingredients are mostly used in cake baking, but were hard to get (if at all) during the time of war. When I first read about this, I could not imagine that you could bake a decent cake without those ingredients. Over time I learned that you can bake a cake with almost anything, but when I first started out baking, I firmly believed that at least butter and eggs are a definite must.
The basic crazy cake recipe is really simple. You throw everything into one bowl, mix and bake. When you got the basic recipe, you can add different flavors, spices and/or frosting to adjust to your own taste. Like a Lemon Crazy Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. Now for the basic recipe:
275g all purpose flour
200g white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 ml vegetable oil
240 ml water
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a glass or spoon, make one large dent in the flour. Using a smaller glass or spoon, make two smaller dents as well.
Pour the oil into the large dent, the vinegar into one smaller dent and the vanilla extract into the other smaller dent. Then pour the water over everything. Using a whisk, mix everything well so no lumps remain.
Pour batter into a greased or lined baking pan/dish and bake for ca. 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 170°C.
This basic recipe renders a perfect and tasty vanilla cake. You can eat it plain or frost with butter cream or whatever you fancy. You can also make muffins/cupcakes with this batter, though you will have to adjust the baking time.
Now with this basic crazy cake recipe, you can make many different cakes. Chocolate cake, add spices or other flavorings such as almond or make this Lemon Crazy Cake. Made extra special with a cream cheese lemon frosting. The frosting is totally optional, the cake is out of this world delicious without it, I promise. But if you do have butter and cream cheese in the house and don’t have to stay off lactose… go for it.
Lemon Crazy Cake
For the cake:
- 275 g all purpose flour
- 200 g white sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- 75 ml veg. oil
- 240 ml water
For the frosting:
- 50 g unsalted butter (softened)
- 50 g cream cheese (softened)
- 250 g powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 170°C and grease a baking dish or line with parchment paper.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Using a glass or spoon, make one large dent in the flour mixture and two smaller dents.
Pour the oil in the large and the vinegar in one of the smaller dents. Pour the extracts in the last dent.
Pour the water on top.
Using a whisk, mix everything well so no lumps remain.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake ca. 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool completely in the pan before adding the frosting.
For the frosting:
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix for several minutes to reach a smooth and light consistency.
Frost the cooled cake. The frosting will be quite soft, so it will be easier to frost while the cake is in the pan.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to firm up frosting. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
Original recipe by Sweet Little Bluebird.
Want something lemony but don’t feel like baking a whole cake? Try this Lemon & Raspberry Mug Cake instead!
AlexisMay 8, 2017
Loved this recipe and I shall be giving it a try soon. Xxx
NicoleMay 8, 2017
Thanks, Alexis! It’s really good 😉
LisetteJune 19, 2017
Heerlijk, Ik ben dol op citroencake!
NicoleJune 20, 2017
Met citroencake kan ik ze hier wakker maken 😉
MaryNovember 5, 2018
Glad you liked my Original Lemon Crazy Cake recipe – it’s one of my most popular favors on Sweet Little Bluebird.
NicoleNovember 5, 2018
Thanks so much for your comment! Crazy or wacky cake is a fairly unknown concept around here. I love to experiment with the original chocolate recipe, but lemon is my all time favourite!
JenOctober 31, 2019
What does the “ca.” mean in your instructions above? For example: “Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake ca. 30 minutes.” I suspect I am missing something obvious, but even with Google searches, I am Failing to solve the puzzle.
NicoleOctober 31, 2019
Hi Jen, thank you for your comment. Ca. is short for circa, it means approximately. The exact baking time depends on the size of your baking dish and the temperature of your oven. I suggest to start checking at 25 minutes.