This easy Depression era recipe makes a single vanilla cake layer and requires no eggs or dairy. It’s made with simple pantry staples and tastes terrific!
As promised, I’m delivering the vanilla version of the Chocolate Crazy Cake I posted last week. I’m just so pleased that many of you made the chocolate version and found it to be delicious and helpful during this time of scarce ingredients.
This vanilla version is just as simple as its predecessor. It’s a one-bowl wonder that whips up with no electric mixer and the baked cake keeps well at room temperature. Since this cake has so few ingredients, its flavor is flour-forward. Meaning, you’ll need to use your best vanilla extract or other extract (lemon) to add the flavor -and don’t skip the glaze! It is essential to the overall flavor of this cake. Without it the cake will be bland.
This cake would be wonderful flavored with citrus extracts, or you could literally spice it up with a tablespoon of pie spice for the world’s easiest spice cake. As I mentioned earlier, the cake’s ingredients are few, so don’t expect the same butter-rich flavor as your favorite birthday cake.
I added a simple confectioners’ glaze made with powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract, and then tossed on some sprinkles for fun.
I noticed a few things that were different about this cake as compared to the chocolate version. The cake wanted to stick ever-so-slightly in the pan at the bottom center. I think next time I’d properly grease and flour the pan instead of just using cooking spray – so I recommend you do this from the get-go, or use a flour-based baking spray. I also found that the flavors of the cake improved overnight. The vanilla tasted creamier and had a much more pronounced flavor the next day.
Of the two ‘Crazy’ cakes, I think this one is more kid-friendly because of its mild vanilla flavor. And because it’s so simple to make, little ones could absolutely help add ingredients to the bowl, stir batter and add sprinkles – which sounds like sweet memories in the making to me.
Enjoy and be well, friends!
Vanilla Crazy Cake
- 8 inch cake pan
- Vanilla cake
- 1 3/4 cups 210g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup 200g granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup 116g powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract I used clear vanilla
- 2-2 1/2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons sprinkles and one maraschino cherry optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 8-inch round cake pan, or use a square 8-inch baking pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the vanilla, vinegar, oil, sugar and water. Whisk together until a smooth batter is achieved.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is slightly puffed and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and one tablespoon of water. Whisk until the water is absorbed and some dry sugary crumbles form; add a second tablespoon of water. Whisk until the mixture is thick and stiff, and holds in the balloon of your whisk. It should slowly fall into a ribbon back into the bowl from the whisk. If the mixture is too thick to fall, add water a little at a time until the correct consistency is achieved. This glaze should be thick.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and spread with a spatula. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles and a cherry on top, if desired. Store the cake in an air-tight cake keeper or in Tupperware for freshness.
Thank you so much for these sweet and simple recipes! I've made versions of this before but your beautiful photo makes me want to try this version with the cheery sprinkles and cherry (or two . . . or a bunch) on top. Thanks again for sharing, your site always makes me smile!
Aw! Thanks so much, Jana!
Is there anything I can use in place of the white vinegar? That's the only ingredient I don't have.
Hi Jo H! Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice would work. The baking soda needs an acid to react with in order for the cake to rise. If you had lime juice, that would also work. I hope this helps!
Con you substitute baking powder for the baking sod’s and vinegar? I don’t like the taste of the baking soda.
Hi Ida. I wouldn't recommend that. The acids in the baking powder produce a chemical reaction with the baking soda and vinegar to give this cake its fluffy texture. The flavor of the baking soda is not detectable in the baked cake.
is this cake sturdy enough for buttercream?
I made this tonight and it didn't taste very good. All it tasted like was flour. I double checked my recipe, but it was the same as yours. Maybe you could check the recipe?
Hi Jennifer. It's hard to say what happened. Maybe you just didn't like the recipe. This particular recipe has been tested many times and quite a few readers have made it and shared their successful results and favorable reviews via social media. As I mention in this post, we do like this cake better on the second day after the flavors marry.
I want to make this for my husbands birthday on Sunday, but flavored strawberry, which is his fave sweets flavor. I was thinking I could blend a cup of strawberries instead of the water, lower the sugar just slightly and add a little lemon zest. Do you think that would work or do you have other recommendations? I can’t eat dairy so this is a perfect recipe for us. I thought I could grind up some freeze dried strawberries to add to the glaze.
Just for the record, this was incredibly delicious turned into a strawberry cake! I macerated some strawberries and used the resulting flavored sugar water in place of the water and some of the sugar. Also added lemon zest and about a tablespoon of ground up freeze-dried strawberry. Anyway, I know that’s a lot of changes but it was great. Thanks for the recipe!