Crazy Cake

Crazy Cake history

To Celebrate my dad’s 80th Birthday, my family convened at this cottage located in Western Michigan, about 200 meters east of Lake Michigan.  It was in the woods.

My mom made my dad’s, and mine, favorite cake.  The cake is called “Crazy Cake” because it is super moist and has no eggs and no butter.

This cake is the favorite cake in the Simpkins Family for as long as my dad can remember.

It’s a recipe from the early years.  Food historian Lynne Oliver, a reference librarian who created the website Food Timeline (, says that the cake existed as early as World War II, when rationing forced bakers to deal with shortages of key ingredients like eggs and butter.  Back in the day, they called it Wacky Cake, though.

You get a better texture if you use a mixer to make this cake.  In the old days people would put all the ingredients in a baking pan and make 3 wells to divide the wet ingredients, stirring it in the baking pan, but this practice is not recommended, as it results in a coarse texture.

Instead, use a mixer.

Preheat oven to 350


In mixing bowl add:

3 Cups flour

2 Cups sugar

6 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

1 Teaspoon salt


Mix these dry ingredients and make a well in the center


In the well pour 3/4 cup oil

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


Watch it fizz because it’s fun to watch stuff fizz



2 cups cold water, gradually <– Notice the bold font on gradually, very important!

Turn mixer on low, if too fast you will make splattering mud!

Turn to medium speed for 2 minutes after the water is all blended in, this is after the low speed, blending in of the water, part, not during the blending of the water.


Bake 40-45 minutes at 350


This is delicious with Cool Whip or Ice cream, on top. The Cool Whip on top is what I call “Crazy Cake the Classic way” or “Classic”.  You can get totally nutz though and add walnuts and chocolate syrup, if you want.


This is Grandma Nora Simpkins recipe, with commentary by my mom, Judy Simpkins and some from myself,  I’ll post a picture of the cake after my film is developed.