Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 30, 2010 3:40PM

Emergency Dump Cake

Rate: 9 Flag

 Have you ever been to the supermarket when a snowstorm is predicted? They may only be predicting 3 to 4 inches but the store will be full of people elbow to elbow. The check-out lines take a sharp turn like an L, blocking the carts which are trying to weave their way up and down the aisles. When I was a teen we were shown a driving school video. Ms. Walker was friendly and waved to passers-by, while Ms. Wheeler was angry and accusatory. The goal was to teach us to stay relaxed while driving (and supposedly to refrain from giving the finger to passing cars.) To that cast we've got to add Ms. Emergency Shopper, she of the sharp elbows and crash course cart-wielding skills. She leaves Ms. Wheeler in the dust.

Braver souls than I may venture out, but when push comes to shove--and I mean literally--I opt to stay home by the fire. But what to do if an occasion arises, it's your son's birthday and a cake must be baked!

The biggest convenience of Chocolate Dump Cake is that the ingredients are always on hand--as long as you bake on occasion. Second best is that you can mix it one pan and bake it, no mixing bowl necessary. Finally, it serves vegans and people who are lactose or egg intolerant.

My mom always called it Dump Cake. I have also heard it referred to as Depression Cake, probably because it's light on the budget. I suppose it also would have been popular during World War II when food was rationed.

Chocolate Dump Cake            


  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c. water or brewed coffe
  • 2 T. vinegar (any kind that's light)
Preheat oven to 375°
  1. Into 8" pan mix together: flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking soda
  2. Make a puddle in the dry mixture and add: oil, vanilla and water or coffee.
  3. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add vinegar and stir until you see even swirls in the batter. The vinegar starts the reaction that helps the cake rise.
  5. Bake at 375° for 24-30 minutes.  

If you have the ingredients you can make regular frosting, but I prefer a glaze.


Mix together:

  • 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar,
  • 1/4 c. water, coffee, or possibly cream sherry and,
  • vanilla or flavoring of choice.
Invert cake onto cooling rack, and when slightly cooled, place on serving plate, poke holes in the cake with a toothpick and then brush on glaze.

  (If a winner, publish author as Meg Whitlock)

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Yumm! I will need to try this! Thanks!
My Mom made Depression Cake...thanks! I've wondered the recipe for years. Your house seems like a great place to while away a snowstorm, with cake on hand : )
Sounds like an easy, tasty recipe to try without a snowstorm at hand. ♥ Thanks for the recipe.
This is terrific--decadent, yet cholesterol-free! I love the texture of this cake, too; it's perfect for cupcakes.
I make too many cakes. You can make a lot of good things from cocoa powder including brownies. There's also a hershey's cocoa cake that's good but calls for more ingredients. This sounds cheap, easy and delicious, thanks for sharing.
Looks quick, easy, and fun---and I think I have everything. Thanks!
I think I'll try this. I made chocolate "brownies" the other day--a new vegan recipe with 3/4 cup of cocoa. It was the thickest chocolate something I've ever made. I thought it was too much.
Congrats, Meg Whitlock! Well done!
I love this cake. You're right; I've heard from older friends that this was popular during WW II as well as during the Depression, but it's a terrific cake regardless of any financial concerns. Congrats on the EP, too!
Yum!! Sounds delish! :)