Chocolate Depression Cake with Mocha Buttercream with step by step photos. Chocolate Depression Cake is also known as War Cake was first made during the Great Depression. This cake is made without eggs, milk, and butter.
What is Chocolate Depression Cake?
Depression Cake is known as Wacky Cake or War Cake dates back to World War I. This type of cake was made during wartime when there was a shortage of eggs, milk, and butter.
Despite the Depression Chocolate Cake not containing eggs, milk, and butter, it is actually very moist. Top it with a Mocha Buttercream on top which makes it taste even better, and yes, Mocha Buttercream does indeed contain butter.
Depression Cake with Mocha Buttercream while in Quarantine
Somedays I just want dessert with a cup of tea/coffee to make myself happier. Baking is therapeutic for me, but I try to bake in moderation since I don't particularly like eating too much sugar. I delivered this delicious Eggless Chocolate cake to family and a few friends. Who doesn't love homemade cake while in quarantine? This chocolate cake is super easy to make and I'm sure you'll have all these ingredients on hand.
How has Chocolate Depression Cake been modified?
- The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, I used ¾ cup. Personally, I like my desserts sweet, not painfully sweet.
- Originally, all-purpose flour is used in this recipe, I modified this to use gluten-free flour. They are both interchangeable.
- Traditionally, there is no frosting on this cake, I topped mine with a Mocha Buttercream which is made with butter.
Chocolate Depression Cake with Mocha Buttercream is:
Gluten-free (or you can use all-purpose flour for a gluten cake)
How to make Chocolate Depression Cake with Mocha Buttercream recipe step by step?
Make the Cake
1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients... gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. All-purpose flour works just fine.
2. Stir dry ingredients.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry... vanilla extract, vinegar, oil, and water.
4. Mix until well combined, do not overmix.
5. Pour the batter into a greased square pan.
6. Into the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Make the Mocha Buttercream
1. Over a double-boiler on medium heat, add chocolate. The chocolate will take about 5-7 minutes to melt.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy.
3. To the butter, add the vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and instant coffee mixed with 1 teaspoon of water.
4. This is now Coffee Buttercream.
5. Once the chocolate is melted, let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. DO NOT ADD HOT CHOCOLATE TO THE BUTTERCREAM, ELSE IT WILL MELT.
6. Slowly add the cool and melted chocolate to the buttercream.
7. Mix well... this will turn into Mocha Buttercream
8. Once the cake cools, frost it with the Mocha Buttercream.
9. Slice into 16 pieces. Enjoy the cake with a cup of coffee, or tea!
More Chocolate Desserts!
- Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
- Absolute Best Chocolate Brownies
- Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Almond Buttercream & Coconut
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Depression Cake with Mocha Buttercream (eggless, gluten-free, vegan - the cake part)Eggless, Gluten-Free, Vegan (just the cake portion)
for the Chocolate Depression Cake
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour, or use all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- ⅓ cup sunflower oil, or any flavorless oil
- 1 cup water
for the Mocha Buttercream
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon instant coffee
- 1 teaspoon hot water
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
How to make Chocolate Depression Cake recipe step by step?
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients... flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. All-purpose flour works just fine.
- Stir dry ingredients.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry... vanilla extract, vinegar, oil, and water.
- Mix until well combined, do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into a greased square pan.
- Into the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
How to make Mocha Buttercream?
- Over a double-boiler on medium heat, add chocolate. The chocolate will take about 5-7 minutes to melt.
- Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy.
- To the butter, add the vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and instant coffee mixed with 1 teaspoon of water.
- This is now Coffee Buttercream.
- Once the chocolate is melted, let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. DO NOT ADD HOT CHOCOLATE TO THE BUTTERCREAM, ELSE IT WILL MELT.
- Slowly add the cool and melted chocolate to the buttercream.
- Mix well... this will turn into Mocha Buttercream
- Once the cake cools, frost it with the Mocha Buttercream.
- Slice into 16 slices. Enjoy a piece with a cup of coffee, or tea.
Rini george says
This cake is delicious! I
Made it today just in time for Easter. I love the butter cream frosting!
Thanks for sharing the recipe honey what’s cooking!
This cake recipe is a hit in my house . Super easy recipe and turns out perfect as mentioned. The only thing I wish I had was coffee in my frosting that I didn’t have on hand . But it still turned out so delicious and fluffy and light. I would be making this recipe more also because hubby is vegan and this was perfect for him without the frosting ! Thank you nisha for this amazing easy recipe !! Love it
This was a hit!!!! Just made this to tonight and my five year old daughter literally cleaned the plate!! Keep these amazing recipes coming!!!!!
Nisha, I just made this cake and I must tell you it was such a hit! My daughter and husband enjoyed it so much! Thank you for always sharing such fussfree and yummy recipes!
Archana Trapasia says
Thanks for coming up with super easy and perfectly sweet recipes. Feels like your recipes are meant for refined palate! Keep such amazing recipes coming @honeywhatscooking. We love all your recipes!
Neeti Mathur says
Absolutely delicious! I made it yesterday because I was craving Chocolate cake and I was surprised how simple it is to make!
I made this cake using all purpose flour yesterday but I made frosting with whipped cream.The recipe of the case is easy and all the ingredients are easily available in kitchen.
Omg this cake was so easy to make with the instructions! So soft and yummy! My parents are not chocolate fans and they had 2 pieces each! Thank you Nisha! ☺️
Gia B says
This cake was absolutely delicious and minimal effort. I made this at 10pm at night and probably the best thing I had before I went to bed. Will make this again for sure! Thanks Nisha!!
Srishti Arora says
Honestly THE best gluten-free cake I’ve ever had! Super easy to follow the recipe and the mocha buttercream was divine. Nisha couldn’t have given us a better gift of baking. It’s balanced - sweet, moist, light! I made a pan and shared it with my family - everyone texted to say how much they loved it! LOVEEEEEE IT.
I absolutely loved this recipe! It was so easy and all the ingredients were home I didnt have to make any extra shopping trip, I did though reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup since I was making the buttercream as well. I made it in a banana bread pan and it rose like any normal cake does with eggs !! I LOVE LOVE this recipe
Thank you for sharing !
Anu Abraham says
This was my last minute Easter dessert- so easy and delicious! Thank you!
This cake is UNBELIEVABLE. So good, so easy to make, just perfect!!!
Great recipe! I substituted it with whole wheat flour and coconut sugar and didn’t put vinegar (as I didn’t have it on hand) and used refined coconut oil for the cake. Came out so moist and tasty! For the buttercream frosting, I just did a simply white, vanilla one. Thanks again Nisha for the recipe! Looking forward to making more food from your website.
Parul Grinold says
This was delish! Rarely do things I make actually turn out right, so clearly your recipe is dummy proof! Thank so much ??
Never made a cake from scratch until now and I'm glad I chose this recipe! Thank you for sharing this easy to follow, delicious recipe!!
I am not a baker, however this recipe is easy to follow. The cake turned great. The kids loved it and my husband was very impressed.. Love Love this recipe. Keep posting and thanks for sharing. ????
I absolutely loved this recipe! It was so easy and all the ingredients were home I didnt have to make any extra trips to the story. ! I LOVE LOVE this recipe
Made this cake yesterday ! It was so easy and quick and very very delicious !
For the frosting ....
I didn’t have chocolate Or instant coffee so I used a shoT of espresso and some cocoa powder instead And it was just as delicious !
Thank you for all these yummy recipes
This cake was wonderful and so easy to make!!
Sheetal Desai says
Such a simple recipe and was so much fun to do with my little girl while we're in quarantine. Love that it uses pantry items and it's eggless so I can make it for relatives! I did not use coffee in my frosting since my 4 year old was also going to eat it but she had a blast being a little baker. Tastes great! I know you mentioned this in your recipe, but if anyone wants a sweeter cake, use 1 cup of sugar in the dry ingredients.
Thanks to you, I'll never buy frosting again! Never realized how easy it was to make...dangerous haha
Super easy to make and one of the few recipes that actually come out so amazing when following to the T- it’s so moist, thank you for this!!
I made the cake today! My children loved it. It was easy and the best part with such simple ingredients at home. I love your recipes and look forward to making more of them! Thank you for being a life saver, as my baking skills are not that great, but after making this I feel like I know a thing or two now. Thank you ?
Nisha this recipe is all we needed to sweeten our tastesbuds during this quarantine. I made it today and topped it with walnuts and choco chips. It was mind blowing and my family enjoyed it immensely. Thanks so much!?
Omg! This cake is so easy to make. My 3.5 year old son and I made it together! I used vegan butter and brown coconut sugar though. Added pecans on top too! So good!!!!
Harpreet Deol says
Made this for my birthday, since I didn't wanna go out and buy a cake in quarantine time. Turned out super delicious and made my birthday special. Even my husband loved it and he hates chocolate cakes. Thank you for saving the day!! This is our new fav cake recipe as now we both can enjoy chocolate cakes, Thanks to Nisha!!
This recipe is so easy and quick and the result is delicious.
Thank you so much for this recipe.
Made the cake yesterday! I totally FAIL at baking but this made it so easy and it was actually very good. Great recipe for a beginner!
This cake was perfect to fulfill the chocolate cake craving! Absolutely loved it! So easy and fast to make! Thank you Nisha 🙂
My husband was shocked at how moist and fluffy it was and that I didn’t use eggs!
I ended up using regular all purpose flour and I also made the buttercream frosting ! Mine came out a little dry but over all I really liked it and would try again !!!
Omg my kids and the family loved this cake! My mom never eats cake but, this one she tried and loved it! Thank you Nisha for such an easy and effortless recipe.
Love this recipe! Definitely a huge hit with my family. The cake turned out to be so soft and yummy ?
Amazing recipe! Everyone in my house absolutely LOVED this cake! Even my 65+ father in law and mother in law who never eat chocolate! Thank you Nisha Di for amazing and easy to follow recipes! Sorry no pictures the cake was gone before I could take a picture!
Ragini Khare says
This was my first attempt at baking.The recipe is really quick and easy to follow and the frosting is yum. Me n my husband loved the cake! Thank you Nisha for the yummy recipe ?
Loved the recipe !!! Very easy to make and delicious !! Everyone loved it in my family !!! Thanks a lot !!
Meera Patel says
This cake was delicious and so easy to make for the fam!
When you want chocolate cake, this is your go-to recipe because you are guaranteed to have these ingredients on hand! This cake was a superhit at my house. I have made it twice already, and it is super moist, delicious, and easy! Thanks, Nisha, for making this our weekend treat - we look forward to making it every Friday!
It was the easiest recipe I’ve ever tried!!! It was so gooey. It literally melted in our mouths!! Thank you! 🙂
Rupal Bhakta says
I made this last weekend and it was so easy and of course, delicious! The buttercream is everything! It actually tasted better and better as the days progressed. I want to make it again today but know that I shouldn’t haha. I will definitely be making this again! Thanks, Nisha!
Wonderful recipe! A huge hit for my husband's birthday..he loved evey bite of it. It is soft , moist and delicious. Half cup butter yielded a lot of butter cream for me. Even without the frosting the cake is just as delicious !
This cake is delicious !! Initially was skeptical because my gluten free batter tasted a lot like besan , but came out nice and moist out of the oven and no one could tell it was gluten free 😀
You cannot miss the mocha frosting here cause it's absolutely delicious and finger licking good ! Use the best quality chocolate!
I like that this is eggless and can be swapped for regular options
This recipe was a hit among my friends !
Love your blog !Thanks honey <3
Jagdeep Sroa says
Wonderful easy to follow recipe, our whole family loved it, my first time baking- so moist and fluffy. Perfection! Thanks for sharing this recipe Nisha.
This cake was so easy to make! Literally my first time baking and cake out sooooo good.
Devi Patel says
I have made many chocolate cakes in the past both my own recipe and others. This cake is by far the BEST. It was super easy to make, the first bite was heaven, and it was not overly sweet. My husband loved it and so did all my sisters who have made the same recipe. Do yourself a favor and make this cake if you love chocolate cake or let alone any cake!!!
Amazing! This cake was super moist! The mocha buttercream frosting is a must, don’t skip this step!!
No need of baking skills just follow what she said and boom it’s done
Loved this simple easy to follow recipe. I am not a baker but wanted to make a cake for a birthday celebration. This turned out soooooo good. My family loved it.
This cake is amazing. The recipe Is very simple that my husband followed and made. He enjoyed making a cake that actually turned out so moist and great in taste. We loved that we can use pantry items and it’s eggless so I can make it for relatives! My favorite was the coffee in my frosting.
Thanks to you, I’ll never buy frosting again! Never realized how easy it was to make…
I made this cake for my sister's birthday this week, and it was such a hit! Loved how moist it was, even without eggs! The buttercream frosting was so simple to make, and tasted great with or without the chocolate!
Thanks for sharing, now I can make my own frosting from home 🙂
Gurpriya Kalra says
Made this cake for Mother's Day for my Sister-in law and sister! They absolutely loved the frosting. Perfect cake for my family that doesn't eat eggs. The frosting is divine! Can't wait to try it on otjer cake/cupcake recipes. Thank you Nisha for another hit recipe
This cake recipe is amazing .
Very easy to follow and can be wiped up without the need of a electric mixer . The sponge was light and airy . Thank You!
This was such an easy one to make I feel it’s going to get addictive! It’s my first eggless cake attempt and it turned out so nice. Thanks for such an easy recipe!
I made this cake last weekend for a social distancing picnic we had with a couple friends - it was the perfect choice to satisfy that afternoon sweet tooth craving. SO, so easy to make, my husband said "why do people buy birthday cakes when they can make this every year?" I'm not usually a mocha drinker when it comes to coffee, but this frosting was amazing, I'm so glad I still had some instant coffee on hand (almost running out)! The sad part was I only had a couple pieces left to bring home, it was a hit with my friends as well!
This was such an easy recipe with ingredients easily found in the pantry! I was about to not make the buttercream frosting, but then I decided to make it...and I'm so glad I did. It was my first time making buttercream and it was finger licking good! Thanks for sharing this Nisha!
I’ve always loved baking but never knew I could make this amazing decadent chocolate cake with simple ingredients! It was moist and delicious! I didn’t do the mocha frosting because of my kids and instead did fresh homemade whip cream! The depression cake helps during these times! Thank you for the great recipe!
HI--does it matter if white vinegar or apple cider vinegar is used?
Hi Kelly. It does not. 🙂
This cake is delicious. If you are craving something sweet, make this, very minimal effort and with the ingredients already available in your pantry. Must try.
Krishna Trivedi says
We don’t bake often in my home but being quarantined has triggered some new hobbies!! Nisha, thank you for this simple and scrumptious recipe! I have never had an eggless cake so moist before! And the coffee and chocolate combination is so rich!
I made this cake and it came out moist and fluffy. I really loved the espresso buttercream! I am going to make it again because I don’t have to do extra shopping for the ingredients. All the ingredients I could find it at home!
Good job Nisha!
The cake turned out so well. The buttercream was perfect combination of coffee and chocolate. Usually we skip the icing because we like plain cakes, but I’m glad I decided to make it.
Okay wowwww!!! This cake was beautiful and so soft and the buttercream was just out of this world.
My substitutes -
1. Used Whole wheat Gluten free flour in place of APF or other flour.
2. Coconut Sugar 2/3 cups
3. Skipped confectionary sugar in the butter cream as my chocolate chips were not the semi sweet one, it was loaded with sugar.
Also didn’t have a hand mixer, I saw some YouTube videos on traditional process of making butter cream and hand whipped those babies. I microwaved the butter for 15 secs and put it in the freezer for 5 mins and started whisking so it wasn’t too hard or runny to get the butter cream like texture.
Thank you for this detailed recipe Nisha! This was by far my fav dessert to make and eat and I don’t even have a sweet tooth! 🙂
Chocolate depression cup cake with Mocha buttercream...
I bought an oven last week and was waiting to try your recipe. Amazingly perfect and my family loved it. Thanks for the beautiful recipe Nisha
This recipe is easy to make and delicious!!
Everyone loved this recipe! Super easy as well 🙂 Used 1c cake flour and .5 coconut flour and used half the butter and sugar for the frosting, doubled espresso, with toasted coconut flakes on top. So good and making it again today!
Such a delicious cake! I added a little extra coffee because we love our coffee. Hands down one of the best coffee/chocolate cakes I’ve tasted - thank you so much for sharing Nisha. This was such a hit at my dinner party and will now be my go to cake! 10/10
Made this cake for some friends and myself. They’re vegan so the recipe worked great as the only ingredient I had to replace was butter. It turned out phenomenal! Did not know an eggless cake could rise like that! Reminded me of Entenmann’s fudge cake, so good! Will def make this again 🙂
Krishna - the global belly says
I’m not a baker and I must say I love Nisha’s recipes and her step by step pictures! This was BOMB!! If you haven’t made this yet, then you must!!
Revathi - @eat_with_rey says
I absolutely love to bake and my sister-in-law found this recipe and asked me to make it! Let me just say, for a family who doesn’t really eat a ton of cakes, let alone chocolate cakes, this was devoured so quickly! It was so incredibly easy to make, this will definitely be a recipe I’ll be making more often! Loved it 😋
So easy and delicious, made it for my daughter’s birthday and everyone loved it!
Loved the way it turned out!! It was so easy to make and tasted yummy 😋.
It has found a permanent spot in my RecipeBox!!
I have made this cake so many times !!! It’s my family favorite, so easy and quick .. thank you Nisha for a great recipe !!!! 😘
I loved loved your recipe of Chocolate Depression cake. Thank you for sharing !! It’s our family’s cake. My toddler loves it
Sneha Bhakta says
I absolutely love all the recipes by Nisha but this by far is the easiest indulgence! I made this cake a few times for my family and there are never any leftovers. The great thing about is that you don't have to feel guilty about eating it, this cake is so light compared to others but will satisfy any chocolate lovers palate!
Made this for my anniversary and everyone loved it!! Highly recommended
Hi there..Thank you for this recipe..i made the cake today and it is very delicious but most recipes call for 1 teaspoon of vinegar while yours called for 1 tablespoon. My cake was extra moist and not easy to cut without breaking. Is that because of the vinegar? I would be very grateful for your reply!
Despite that part my cake is almost over as it was devoured by my boys! sooo sooo good! Thanks Nisha
This was an amazing recipe! I am not a baker, and this was my first experience with baking a cake. The step by step instructions were easy to follow, and everyone loved it. I skipped the powdered sugar in the frosting b/c I didn't have any but used milk chocolate chips, and it worked just fine.
Made this for my sister-in-law who loves coffee and loves chocolate cake and she loved it!! Super easy and such a unique cake to surprise others with.
Cake was so delicious!!! Thank you for the recipe Nisha, my fam loved it. They couldn’t believe I made everything from scratch specially the icing, it was yumm. Your recipes are awesome, your family is so lucky to have you ❤️ Keep up the good work!
My daughter just recently turned dairy-free for her migraines and has a huge sweet tooth. While I was looking for something chocolate to make for her, I came across this recipe. It turned out moist and amazing and nobody believed that there was absolutely no dairy. Thank for this recipe
Saneeta Mathew says
Excellent Cake and super del!!!
I am a fairly new baker and this recipe was just amazing. Easy to make and tasted so divine. 8 people in my family devoured it. So delicious, thank you for this Nisha!
Amazing amazing amazing! Super simple cake. It was my first time using gluten free flour but it still turned out GREAT! I would totally make this again and my husband and friends loved it! Thank you Nisha. Don't forget that the butter should be room temp for the frosting. It was my first time doing the double boiler method for the chocolate too so looked up a video on how to do that on YouTube properly 🙂
As a coffee and chocolate lover, this was a perfect combination for me. This cake is so decadent yet so simple and made with ingredients in my pantry already! Thank you Nisha for sharing such recipes with us !