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

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 inch square cake or 12 cupcakes

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

Optional: Chocolate Frosting, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free
1 1/2 cup (170g) confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (not the Dutch-process kind)
pinch of salt
2 heaping tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine (I use soy-free Spectrum) or shortening
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoon 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 in square 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.


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  1. LS says

    I just wanted to say thanks for the recipe–this worked great for us with a different (but similar) gf blend. My batter was pretty runny but the cupcakes are not gooey at all (well after they were done, at least LOL). To me there is NO reason to ever dump cake out–you can always turn the crumbs into cake balls, or make trifle, or something with them. Just a thought!

  2. sing says

    made these tonight and they were scrumptious and so easy to make. I was ecstatic when I saw how puffy they were after baking for 18 mins. wow! my eyeballs were about to pop out. never have I seen baked goods that are gluten and egg free puff up so much. unfortunately, they kind of deflated a little bite after 5 more mins of baking and the center started to sink in. stopped the oven at 30 mins and took them out to cool. they were still a little puffy. there is a small indentation in the center. nothing a little frosting couldn’t cover up. but I would love it if the final state was what they looked like at 18 mins. what can I do to make it so? maybe a few tbsp less water? thanks!

  3. Anneliz says

    Just made this cake in a 9″ round pan using namaste gf flour and also a homemade flour blend I found on kidswithallergy web.I followed the recipe to a T and came out so gooey.The original recipe calls for 5 tb.The cake made out of the homemade flour blend couldn’t be saved unfortunately (ended up down the drain).I have been baking gf cakes since 2006 with great succes, but recently we found out my son can’t have eggs (dairy r ok) so decided on this cake.What else can be done? Should I try any other flour blends ? I’m not a fan of egg substitutions like energ.I plan on making this cake soon using a 6″ round pan and hopefully I’ll find the culprit by then.Besides being very gooey, it also came out almost flat.Please help.Thank you.

    • says

      Anneliz: Substitutions will always affect the success of a recipe. So far, I can see that you’ve made at least 2: a different flour blend and a incorrect pan size–two huge changes that will certainly affect a recipe. What other substitutions did you make? Make it will the exact ingredients and pan called for and see how it works. Also, did you use double-acting baking powder? That is important, too. Please look at my Troubleshooting Baking Recipes post for more info.

      • Anneliz says

        Yes, I did. I also followed the recipe to a T from the where u could use a 12 muffin pan, an 8×8 pan or a 9″ round pan, and used their flour blend.So, I didn’t change anything. Second time I used the namaste brand.We tried it today, and we just couldn’t eat it.The gooeyness and taste of baking soda was horrible.

        • says

          Anneliz: I’m not really sure what you’re saying. You keep talking about following someone else’s recipe and using a different pan and a different flour mix from mine. So, I’m not sure how to help you. Also, I would recommend checking your oven temperature. Sounds like it is not heating correctly.

  4. sapna says

    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!

      • Sapna Llano says

        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. :)

        • says

          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.

    • Dee Johnson says

      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. :)

      • says

        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!

        • Dee Johnson says

          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!

  5. Ivanna says

    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 😉

  6. says

    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?

  7. Jennifer says

    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.

    • says

      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. :)

  8. Gemma says

    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!

  9. Christine says

    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!

    • says

      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. :)

      • Karen g. says

        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.

        • says

          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. :)

  10. Moira says

    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!

  11. Kathy says

    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!

    • says

      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.

  12. Dee Johnson says

    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!

  13. Jen says

    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!

  14. Ketra says

    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!

    • admin says

      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!

  15. Kendra says

    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!!

  16. Rebecca says

    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?

    • admin says

      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.

  17. Heather says

    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!

    • admin says

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

  18. Lynn Cordon says

    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!

  19. Cindy says

    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.

    • admin says

      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!

  20. Regee says

    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:-)

    • admin says

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

  21. Elaine says

    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?

  22. says

    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 !

  23. says

    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.

    • admin says

      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.


  1. […] Now if you can’t have gluten, I’m guessing you could take the gluten free chocolate crazy cake recipe linked below, remove the cocoa powder and add something to make it taste right like extra vanilla and/or sugar. That part’s on you to figure out yourself. Or you could skip the recipe and get some boxed GF white cake, which probably all have eggs or dairy in them for no necessary reason except to make my life that much more difficult. If you’re not feeling super lazy, here’s a GF crazy cake recipe: […]

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