When you have to make changes or sacrifices to get dessert on the table, sometimes it surprisingly becomes a work of edible art! Great Depression Chocolate Cake arose from a time of great need to become a still-loved treat today! This moist, dense chocolate cake is full of cocoa from the bottom to the top, and the delicious creamy chocolate icing is irresistible. Sometimes creativity comes from great necessity and this Great Depression Chocolate Cake is the perfect result of making something great out of what you have. It is gloriously impressive!


For the cake:

  • 3 cups flour, plus more, to taste, for dusting the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups black coffee or 2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

For the icing:

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter, can substitute ghee or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water, can substitute coffee for a mocha-flavored icing
  • sea salt, to taste


Step 1 –Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 2 –Grease two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9×13-inch baking dish, and then, using the extra flour, lightly dust the pans.

Step 3 –In a large bowl with a spatula, add the remaining 3 cups of the flour, the cane sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, 7 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, the baking soda, and the ginger and stir until well-combined.

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Step 4 –Add the melted coconut oil, 2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract, and 2 cups of the black coffee to the flour mixture and stir until well-combined. If using the instant coffee, fully dissolve the coffee with the warm water before adding it to the flour mixture.

Step 5 –Add the apple cider vinegar to the cake batter mixture and stir until well-combined to make sure no large lumps of flour are present (a few small lumps are okay). Note: it’s normal for the cake batter to foam up a bit as the baking soda reacts with the vinegar and the coffee.

Step 6 –Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. If using the 9×13-inch baking dish, the baking time may take about a few minutes longer to bake through.

Step 7 –Transfer the baked cakes from the oven to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

Step 8 –When the cakes are completely cooled, in a large bowl, add the powdered sugar and the remaining cocoa powder and whisk to combine. If a smooth icing is preferred, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together into the bowl before whisking

Step 9 –Add the remaining vanilla extract and the butter to the powdered sugar mixture and stir to combine.

Step 10 –Gradually add the water to the icing mixture and stir to combine.

Step 11 –Add the sea salt to the icing mixture and stir to combine.

Step 12 –Transfer the baked cakes from the baking pans to a large serving platter.

Step 13 –With an icing spatula, add the icing to the cooled cakes.

Step 14 –With a sharp knife, cut the iced cake into serving-size pieces and serve.