Depression (??) Era Chocolate Cake

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You know when you’re life is so deeply screwed for a period of time that you start trying to rub two pennies to make a dollar?

That was me, with my mother a few months ago. Oh and my grandparents were over, so it was… for sure the summer, and almost already like half a year ago! Eeep!

It’s almost difficult to write about that period in my life because I’ve been trying to block it out. This was before my fancy-pantsy job and even before my retail job. Oh dear lord, those were dark times. I speak of the days waking up mid-afternoon and schlepping myself to starbucks for the free wifi, since our modem and router was stolen by my family member. I’d spend hours there looking and applying for jobs anywhere and everywhere. I’d watch high school teachers I never had but used to peek at in their rooms as I walked between classes, appear and tutor new high school students.

Looking at their young faces, speckled with pimples, wrinkle-free exuberant youth, and I get this sad pit in my stomach because I didn’t have care-free shenanigan days. I grew up feeling like I was this very moralistic person above other people. I don’t drink! I’d say, I don’t have sex! I’d proclaim.

I think deep down I was just angry because I never got invited to parties, and I was always too afraid of getting pregnant to have sex with my high school boyfriend, so I became bitter.

Grappling with these realizations as an unemployed 23 year old going through a hard-ass rough period was… well hard dammit. How do we get rid of these sad feelings while still trying not to waste any more money (I was ordering water while spending 6+ hours at starbucks)? BAKE A FUCKING DEPRESSION-ERA CAKE!!!

I mean, I believe it’s depression era. This could be totally wrong, but there’s something interesting and cool when you think about how eggs, milk and butter were too expensive, so with the magical power of combining an acid (vinegar) + a base (baking soda) we somehow get a cake that grows! Wee~!

Being the money-conscious-food-saving freak I am, I thought “wow no eggs? no butter? no MILK??? This is a godsend where is the fucking CAKE REVOLUTION. WHY ARE WE WASTING INGREDIENTS!!!!!”

I know why: Because the cake isn’t that good. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know why people like it. It tastes sort of like a box cake without any of that latent fakey cheap chocolate taste. This cake is soft and moist, but a little bit flavorless. You seriously need to frost the damn thing, WHICH KIND OF HURTS BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO USE ANY BUTTER WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME.

Either way, I suppose using 1 stick of butter for a whole sheet cake & frosting is more economical than dumping like a stick for the cake and 2 for the frosting, yeah? The recipe I used is from Sweet Little Blue Bird. There’s an interesting way that she uses to make the cake by putting things in different depressions. Now I followed it, because fuck it, maybe there’s some magic in all of this?? But I’m not exactly sure! Somebody let me know! Can’t I just stir all of the wet ingredients together and go from there? Or is there some kind of chemical reason I have to separate the ingredients into different depressions in the dry ingredients??

Whatevs, it was bakin’ time.

Depression Era Cake

Serves: your sad ass

Ingredients for cake:

  • 3 cups ap flour
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder {this can be store brand guys, it’s ok}
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 10 tbsp corn / veg oil {or 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp}
  • 2 cup water


  1. Start off by buttering and flouring your small glass baking dish. Why glass? Because it’s fancy, shit guys how else you gonna stop yourself from being sad? I used a 9×13 inch pan because why do people buy anything smaller? Who you baking for? Elves?
    Also, preheat your oven to 350. You want that shit toasty.

  2. After you’ve buttered and floured your pan, the best part about this cake starts: you just dump all of the dry stuff in your pan and sort of stir it around with a fork until it’s fully mixed. Shit man. Wish everything was this easy.

  3. Now you gotta make these weird little depressions. You just need to make 3 big egg-sized ones all clustered in the center. Start by putting the vinegar in one depression, vanilla in another, and corn oil in the largest one. Now you’re probably gonna have some spillage here, but what’s a little spillage without a little pillage, EH??. that’s ok! No problems baby.

  4. Just straight up pour your water all over it, and get back that fork you originally used, and mix it all up real good. Nice and simple, friends.

  5. Since it’s already in your pan, I don’t need to tell you to pour it there! Hooray! Just pop it into the oven for 20 – 35 mins, or until your toothpick comes out clean.
    I know you’re like this close from chocolate cake, but bear with me friends, we got frosting to make!

Ingredients for Chocolate Frosting:
NOTE: I freeballed this recipe, and shit it came out good. So glad I can finally make frosting without a recipe after baking for like 10 years. ๐Ÿ˜

  • 1 stick butta
  • ~1 cup powdered sugar, do it to taste
  • ~several spoons of cocoa powder, to taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla {I just measure in capfuls and that’s totally 1 tsp, no??}


  1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, start creaming dat butta until it’s light and fluffy. Start adding the powdered sugar by the spoonful until the buttercream mixture is at the level of sweetness you’d like.

  2. Now add in the cocoa powder until it’s dark and as rich as you need it to be. Taste it!!!! It might need more powdered sugar, so add more! Don’t be scared to stick to rigid rules, friends. Experiment!

  3. Add in your vanilla, and boom u done. Just frost the cake & dig in guys.

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So excited to not waste a damn bowl.

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Remember when I said shit was gonna look weird and messy? Here it is friends! Embrace it!!

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Straight chillin’ no fillin’. Seriously. No filling. Just frosting.

I almost didn’t post this, but alas, Past Nutmeg had already shopped these suckers. The picture quality is low because this was taken with my previous phone camera. I would have still had this phone if my same family member didn’t cancel my damn phone line, causing me to have to join ANOTHER phone company and shell out for a new fuckin’ phone. So I suppose for that, I thank you and so does my blog.

Please don’t think that me criticizing the taste of the cake is due to the recipe. Honestly, I really doubt that. I just think that this is the kind of taste a cake is going to have when you have removed all of the crucial cake-flavoring components. Shit man, who knew butter, eggs and milk made such an important impact on cakes, huh??? Even vegan cakes made with all of the replacement ingredients are more tasty.

Still, this cake is good tho. It’s fast, it’s almost like a box cake, so it kind of gets you all of those cravings without crumpling to worship the Box Devil.
Still, I’m one to talk. I have one recipe with box mix.

If there’s one thing I love about this cake, is it’s testament that even when life is shitty as, well, shit, there’s still something sweet, moist and chocolately waiting for you. Life sucks, but not all of the time. Sometimes we just need to stress eat cheap chocolate cake in our panties at 2 am. It’s ok, because life will get better, you precious little sunflower seed.

And if it doesn’t? Fuck it, eat cake.


9 thoughts on “Depression (??) Era Chocolate Cake

  1. lol! You hit it perfectly. If you’re half starved and don’t have the money to buy anything fresh, this would taste much better, lol! Hunger is the best sauce…

    And no, you don’t need to make any depressions. This IS a depression era cake and it’s often called Wacky Cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

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