Crazy Cake and Welcoming All to the Table, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on February 11, 2011

Cupcake made and frosted by Girlfriend

Crazy Cake. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s also called Wacky Cake, or Cockeyed Cake. This is the chocolate cake that is made without eggs or dairy. And in my case, it’s also made without gluten. It uses vinegar to help the leaveners raise the cake. It’s a great cake–moist, nice crumb, tasty. I discovered a recipe for this cake 20 years ago (it’s kind of scary to be throwing that many years around), adapted it to gluten-free, and have made it frequently over the years.

This cake is on my mind these days because Girlfriend just had a birthday. For school events I like to bring this so all of the kids can have a treat–in my daughter’s class we have her (peanut and soy allergic), someone who is gf, dairy-free and egg-free, and a kid who is corn-free. This means that these three kids are often left out of celebrations in the class. Not by me, though. Also, in our house, we have a policy of providing food that all guests can eat.  What’s the point of socializing when people are left out?  So, Crazy Cake is what I make for for many of these events.  It warms my heart to provide a treat that everyone can eat.


One thing that’s great about this cake is that you can make it as a cake or as cupcakes.  Both turn out terrific!  And this recipe is so dang easy, you can make it often.

Crazy Cake, Gluten-Free
-makes 1- 8″x8″ cake or 12 cupcakes

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205 g) white rice flour
1 C (120 g) tapioca flour
1 C (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cake)

Ingredients
1 1/2 C (210g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 C (200g) granulated sugar
3 TBL unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
6 TBL neutral-flavored oil, (I use rice bran oil)
1 TBL apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C (235ml) cold water (or coffee or milk)

Optional: Chocolate Frosting, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free
Ingredients
1 1/2 C (170g) confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
2 TBL unsweetened cocoa (not the Dutch-process kind)
pinch of salt
2 heaping TBL non-hydrogenated margarine (I use soy-free Spectrum) or shortening
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBL water (or milk or coffee)–use a bit more if needed

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl .  Mix in margarine, vanilla extract, and 1 TBL water.  Beat until combined and smooth. This is enough to thinly frost an 8″x8″ cake or 12 cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To Make the Cake:
In your 8″x8″ baking pan, stir together all dry ingredients.

Make three depressions (“wells”) in the dry ingredients, 2 small and 1 large.

Pour your oil into the biggest well, and the vanilla and vinegar into the 2 smaller wells.

Pour 1 C cold water over all.  Mix well and smooth top.

To Make Cupcakes
Mix all in a large bowl, using the same order and process of the instructions above, and spoon into greased or lined cupcake tins.

Bake cake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until tester comes out clean.  Bake cupcakes for 30 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  For both, remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!
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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

sapna March 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Hi! My son is sensitive to rice (and eggs, dairy, gluten) any ideas on how to sub other gluten free flours and starches for the rice flours in your recipe? Thank you in advance!

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Jeanne March 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

Sapna: Greetings! Check out my Flour Substitutions post for info on how to substitute other flours.

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Sapna Llano March 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Thank you Jeanne! I just picked up some potato flour and plan to try this tomorrow! :)

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Jeanne March 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Sapna: OK, good!

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Sapna Llano March 7, 2014 at 11:36 am

Hi Jeanee,

I used the rice free GF flour blend you have listed on your flour sub page. I first made the flour blend using 1.25 c sorghum, 1.25 c millet, 1 c potato starch and 1 c potato flour. I added 2 tsp scant of xantham gum to the mix too. I then used 1.5 c of this mixture in the crazy cake recipe and kept the rest of the recipe the same. I found that the batter was thick and I had to spoon it into the cupcake liners. I tried my best to smooth it out but the cake is now baking and I see that it did not even out.

Since I used the rice free GF flour sub blend should I have added more liquid (maybe during the 1 c of water addition)?

Even though they look interesting right now, I think they will taste good and that my little guy will like them. :)

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Jeanne March 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Sapna: Hm. Yes, I think you probably would need a bit more water. I don’t think a cup more is necessary, but it should be thick but not stiff.

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Dee Johnson March 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

sapna, any GF flour mix should work fine. I have made this with many different types of mixes (all homemade), and even Spelt flour successfully! It is a very forgiving recipe. The only flours I wouldn’t use are almond and coconut, only because they soak up a lot of liquid and I wouldn’t know how much to use (you usually use less of these flours in recipes because of this). Just make sure you use the gum (xanthan or guar, I use guar because it is so much cheaper). Good luck, and let us know what you used and how it came out. :)

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Jeanne March 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

Dee: One thing to clarify: Spelt is a form of wheat and is therefore not gluten-free. I just want to make sure everyone keeps this in mind. Also, I don’t think guar gum works as well as xanthan, but if it works well for you–yay!

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Dee Johnson March 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

Yes! Thank you Jeanne for clearing that up. I forgot to mention that. While my son and I do have a problem with hybridized wheat, we can tolerate organic spelt. And yes, guar gum does seem to not work quite as well, but my family doesn’t seem to mind. As long as there’s cake, they are happy, lol. And since I have a large family (9), I would rather save as much money as I can. ;) Thanks!

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Ivanna November 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Thank you for the recipe! Tried making this the other day and since I have a bit of overripe bananas in my kitchen, I mix some mashed banana with the batter. Came out super moist and delicious! Definitely will make more of this cake ;)

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Jeanne November 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Ivanna: Yay! I’m so glad! And your addition of bananas is awesome!

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Nour Zibdeh--Nourition July 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Thanks for the recipe I’ll be trying it soon. I counseling people with food sensitivities and I follow a dairy free program myself and I’m always looking for yummy recipes. Do you think the cake would taste good with coconut sugar? or date sugar?

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Jeanne July 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Nour: I think it probably would–but I would experiment to see what you think!

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Jennifer June 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

This cake was super yummy my entire family loved it. It didn’t rise well though. It was fudge and chewy. Like I said we loved it but I was wondering if there is a recipie that turns out more fluffy. Or maybe I did some thing wrong. We live at about 4,500 ft.
Thanks

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Jeanne June 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Jennifer: This cake won’t rise that high due to the lack of eggs. Also, the fact that you are living at high altitude means that things will rise higher than normal. So, I’m guessing however high it rose is as high as it’s going to get. :)

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Gemma May 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Wow thankyou so much! I’m going to try this Chocolate cake, and do a coat of coconut icing, and on top of that some chocolate butter cream:) This is great, because im constantly trying to find a egg free recipie for my sister, and gluten free for all of us!

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Jeanne May 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Gemma: Yay! I’m so glad!

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Christine March 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I’m guessing that there must be a baking-chemistry reason for placing the liquids in the dry ingredient wells. Can you tell me what that is?
Thank you!

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Jeanne March 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Christine: You’re right! You don’t want the baking soda and the vinegar to combine too early and fizz out before leavening the batter. And you don’t want the oil to coat the baking soda or the vinegar and interfere with the reaction. :)

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Christine March 9, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Wow -that’s fascinating. Thanks!

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Jeanne March 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Christine: You’re welcome!

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Karen g. February 20, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Hi, I wanted to comment on this, because I’d wondered the same thing, but I’ve discovered that it doesn’t actually make any difference if you make the wells and pour things in separately or not…you can just mix the dry ingredients then add all the wet ingredients at once and it turns out exactly the same. :^) Just to save you a minute.

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Jeanne February 21, 2014 at 10:55 am

Karen: Good point. I think the main reason to do the wells is to minimize the amount of time the baking soda and the vinegar are together before they are actually mixed into the cake. Baking soda has a short working time (it works as soon as it hits an acid). But you’re right–it’s usually just fine without them. :)

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Moira March 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm

My Middle School cafeteria had Wacky Cake Wednesdays, which where always very popular. It wasn’t until my father went on a low cholesterol diet that I realized what made the wonderful chocolate cake so wacky! It has been a standard cake for birthday cupcakes to take to school, and now I am baking it for a bake sale at the intermission of the school Musical. I also realized that I can double the recipe and bring some to the church potluck the next day!

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Jeanne March 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Moira: Yay!

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Kathy February 12, 2013 at 6:48 am

We are planning to bake for Valentines day, can you clarify, if the mix is by hand or mixer, it appears one of your readers spoke about how creamy it becomes when beaten. It appears from your pictures you hand mix, sometimes, it doens’t matter,though sometimes, it makes all the difference in baking.
Thank you for offering this recipe, with pictures, such a great help!

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Jeanne February 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Kathy: With this particular cake, I (personally) use a spoon–because it’s meant to be fast and easy. But a mixer would be fine–beat the sugar and oil together first then add the other ingredients.

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Dee Johnson February 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Wacky chocolate cake is the cake my MIL introduced me to when I got married. We always had it for our birthday cakes (with the white icing). I have been gluten free for over 2 years now. I found this recipe soon after I became gf, and it has been a regular recipe for our family. We especially love the chocolate icing. I love how it gets so creamy when you beat it well. I double this recipe for our large family (Hubby and I, and 7 kids at home). I have been able to reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups for a double batch successfully. I am baking one now, with the sugar reduced to 1 1/4 cups (we’ll see how that goes, lol). I bake it in a 9×13 glass pan for 40 minutes. Thank you for a great recipe!

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Jeanne February 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Dee: Yay! I’m so glad!

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Jen November 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

I’m going to cry. Crazy cake is an old tradition in my family (at least 5 generations) and is the cake my husband and kids request most often. Not to mention my favorite. I’m newly diagnosed and missing this cake is one of the things that upset me the most. I have already ventured into the world of GF baking with great success but to see the recipe laid before me as I scrolled down that list made my day. Thank you!

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Jeanne November 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Jen: I’m so glad! Yay! (not about the crying but about being able to have the recipe again!)

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Ketra October 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I’m making them for a daycare Halloween event – will they last more than one day fresh, and will they be OK frozen for subsequent birthday treats? And, I can’t thank you enough for your wonderful recipes – always foolproof and delicious. Congrats on the book!

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admin October 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

Ketra: You can freeze them and then defrost them overnight in the fridge. They should be OK for a day or two–store them at room temperature. Happy baking!

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Kendra July 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I had nver heard of crazt cake before this recipe. My little one is allergic to milk,eggs, wheat and soy. This cake is perfect!!!!!! she was able to lick the spoon for the first time. I have eleminated all other allergens except eggs and until the egg in my baked goods are cooked at at leat 350 for 30 minmutes it has never been safe for her. I am just so excited for her to have that experience. Thank you!!

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admin July 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Kendra: Yay! I’m so glad!!

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Rebecca July 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Love your site! Can’t wait to try your recipes but the Gf lad I’m baking for is also sugar free…. Any tips on working with agave etc?

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admin July 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

Rebecca: I haven’t done much with adapting for agave or honey. The issue with those two is that they are liquid and they throw off the liquid content of the recipes. I have done work with palm sugar and maple sugar–and those are pretty much a one-to-one substitution. Things will taste like maple with the maple sugar, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…:). The thing about agave to watch out for is that it is highly processed and it is high in fructose–which is the “bad” sugar (fructose is the thing that gives you a fatty liver). I stopped using it a few years ago.

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Heather May 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I just tried your recipe for my son’s birthday cake (I used Gluten Free Pantry flour mix and added xanthan gum). It turned out GREAT!! It was so delicious and easy and got tons of compliments. Thanks!

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admin May 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Heather: Yay! I’m so glad! We make this every year for our daughter’s birthday party–and every year the kids love it!!

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Cindy May 3, 2012 at 6:47 am

Can you make this pinnable to Pintrest? I would like to save/share it.

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admin May 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

Cindy: Yes! I need to add a plug-in. Will try to do that today! Thanks for the reminder!

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Lynn Cordon January 12, 2012 at 10:29 am

I love your recipes but have one big complaint – I’m getting fat as everything is so delicious! Kidding. I just made the Crazy cupcakes and they came out beautifully, fully risen and nicely rounded tops. I use GF Pantry all purpose flour and I added an extra 1/4teaspoon of vinegar Which may have helped them rise. I live in Bermuda and it is a very humid day but they came out perfect. Thank you so much for your recipes!
Lynn

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admin January 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Lynn: LOL! Me, too! Also, thanks for letting me know how the recipe went. And Bermuda–wow!

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Cindy October 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Hubby wanted me to make a Crazy Cake, and then said, what will you make J. I told him I had just seen the gf recipe here. Our son was so excited to find out I was making him a gf cake. He couldn’t wait for it to cool so he could have some. I frosted it with a 7 min. type frosting, using cornstarch for the flour part of the frosting as I was out of white rice flour. The frosting came out light and fluffy. Both of my guys ate two pieces after lunch and I am sure will eat more before the day is done.

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Diane Thompson August 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Would it be possible to change out the flavor of the cake to pear & lavender? How would you suggest I go about that?
Diane

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admin August 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Diane: Pear and lavender instead of chocolate? I haven’t done that. Here’s what I think would work: I would recommend deleting the chocolate and making that amount up with more flour. Then add some chopped lavender flowers (not much–maybe 1 TBL) and then chopped pear (about 1/2 cup) and see what happens!

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Regee July 7, 2011 at 10:13 am

Man, these are Great!!
I only added 1t coffee granules, it just sounded good to me:-)
Mine did not rise all the way in the very center either. Why is this?
I used guar gum & coconut oil cause that’s what I had on hand.
I didn’t frost these & am glad I didn’t!! They are a fudgy goodness w/o anything more:-)
Thanks!

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admin July 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Regee: Yay! I have found that guar gum hinders rising a bit. And I think coffee granules are an awesome addition!

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Elaine April 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

I tried this recipe last week for my grandson who is allergic to eggs, and my son who has celiac disease. I’ve made it many times for my grandson (not GF) and it is great. However, with the GF flour mix the cupcakes did not rise in the middle. I wondered if it needed more xanthan gum?

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admin April 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Elaine: The cupcakes might not rise in the middle–that’s OK. They will still taste good.

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Tammy February 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

Awesome! I was just thinking about this cake the other day and wondered if there was a gluten free version of it. I need something chocolatey for V-day, so thank you !

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admin February 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

Tammy: Yay!! Let me know what you think!

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InTolerantChef February 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I totally agree, no one should be left out. If you can’t cook for them, don’t ask them over and expect them to nibble a carrot while watching you eat deliciousness. I love recipes like this that cover most of the Bad Biggies, thanks and I’ll add it to my files.

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admin February 12, 2011 at 10:19 am

Exactly! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to dinner, only to be offered weird things (like gf waffles from the freezer) while everyone else is eating the real meal. Eek.

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Shirley @ gfe February 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Feeding everyone is the very best policy, isn’t it? How could one do anything else? Yippee for crazy cake! Looks delish, Jeanne. :-)

Hugs,
Shirley

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