Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rubber Cake - The Quintessential Survival Cake

During my childhood in the hinterboonies of the American Redoubt, when our family wanted a quick chocolate fix but we had nothing in the pantry, my mother would throw together one of our favorite cakes - Rubber Cake.  I'm not entirely certain why it is called Rubber cake, since it doesn't have the consistency of rubber, but it is one of the most interesting cakes in my recipe box.  My understanding is that it was developed by an ingenious housewife during the depths of the depression when resources were scarce.   Necessity is the mother of invention! 

This cake requires no dairy - butter or milk - and is leavened not by eggs but by vinegar and baking soda (I know - vinegar in a cake!).  The result is a moist cake that is perfect alone, sprinkled with powdered sugar or frosted.  Our favorite way to serve this cake is warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!

Rubber cake is not the least bit crumbly so it is perfect for the lunchbox as well as afternoon tea.  Another benefit?  It is mixed and baked in the same pan - no other bowls to get dirty!  Because it requires no fresh ingredients, Rubber cake is the Quintessential Survival Cake.

Rubber Cake

1 1/2 C flour
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Sift together above ingredients into a 9" cake pan (or double the recipe and use a 9"x13" cake pan).  The pan does not have to be greased or floured.

Make 3 wells in the mixture.

Put the following in the separate wells;

6 T vegetable oil in one well
1 T vinegar in one well (I use white vinegar)
1 tsp. vanilla in one well

Pour 1 C of water over the top and mix well.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Serve cold with white, caramel or chocolate frosting.

Three indentations

Filling the wells

One overflowed a bit!

All mixed together

Just out of the oven

A lovely way to end the day!


  1. We used to make this all the time when I was growing up, but alas, we lost the recipe. Thanks for both the recipe and the memories!

  2. Like Anon above, I used to make a similar cake when I was a teen, and I don't remember why I ever stopped doing so. If my 14 year old son sees the pictures, I'm going to have to make this cake for dessert to go with the previous recipe for oven baked chicken.
    Thanks, Enola!

  3. We always called this recipe "Wacky cake"

    ~Kate W.

    1. Yes. Wacky Cake! My grams use to make this to go with gramps homemade vanilla ice cream.


  4. We call it Poor Man's Cake

  5. in our home it was "Crazy Cake" was always my request for my Birthday Cake, and my mom made an awesome butter cream frosting for it. I still make it for my Birthday, but my frosting just isn't as good as mom used to make.

  6. I recently found this recipe on line and thought the same thing - a good survival cake. It is moist and good! It was called stir crazy cake on the site I found.

  7. I imagine it was called rubber cake because you could "stretch" your resources by not needing the butter and milk.

  8. I found this cake recipe in an old Chuck Wagon Cookbook, I'm thinking it was used mostly during the cattle drives to give the wranglers something sweet on their long haul without having to use eggs or milk, which they wouldn't have available to them.

  9. Yes, I used to make this a lot. I also knew it as Wacky cake but used the frosting used for German chocolate cake, the cooked frosting with coconut and nuts. Delicious and moist.

  10. My grandmother (b. 1896) used to make this. She called it Crazy Cake. The recipe is identical, except her says 1 tsp. vinegar, instead of 1 T. Perhaps she copied it wrong, if this works. I haven't tried it yet.

  11. Why are the 3 wells necessary for the vinegar, oil and vanilla to stay separate?? Just curious.

  12. My daughter and I were talking about this recipe yesterday. For no good reason, we haven't made it in a while.
    We'll be making it today.