Sweet Cakes & Puddings

Strawberry Coconut Wacky Cake

Sometimes known as a "depression cake", don't let the egg-free and dairy-free nature of this strawberry coconut wacky cake scare you away. It is abundantly sweet and pleasantly light - perfect for a birthday or garden party.

I’m a huge sucker for coconut. Samoas are hands-down my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, coconut shrimp was always my choice at Red Lobster, and coconut macaroons never last very long in our house. So, when I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Plush Coconut Cake, I knew I needed to give it a try. The recipe for strawberry coconut wacky cake you see below has been altered a bit — the coconut flavor in the original recipe was very subtle, so I added strawberries to really made the flavors pop — but Deb Pereleman’s base recipe was an awesome place to start.

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What makes this cake “wacky”? It rises and tastes like a normal cake – but doesn’t contain any butter or eggs. This variety of vegan coconut cake is also known as a Depression cake, presumably because the aforementioned ingredients were difficult for city-dwellers to keep on hand if they couldn’t afford to keep their icebox…well, icy. So, yes, this cake is egg-free, dairy-free, and vegan, but you wouldn’t realize it when eating a slice. It is just as moist and delicious as a traditional cake, and I happily serve it to guests sans dietary restrictions who are none the wiser.

But wait – if this cake doesn’t use eggs, how will it rise? Excellent question! This cake will take advantage of the classic elementary science experiment – the combination of baking soda and vinegar. Our last step before baking involves pouring acetic acid (white vinegar) into the batter containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), producing bubbles of carbon dioxide that give lift to the batter. It’s a creative way to bake a cake, and it definitely tastes better than a baking soda volcano.

In order to continue the concept of a dairy-free cake, this buttercream frosting is made using vegan butter – which, yes, is essentially margarine. You are welcome to use traditional butter for the truly “classic” flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that margarine didn’t change the flavor quite as much as I had expected.

Strawberry coconut wacky cake - a vegan coconut cake inspired by 1930s recipes - sits on a white pedestal against a blue background. A slice has been cut out of the cake and two strawberries sit on top.

For your cake, you are going to need the following ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • White vinegar
  • Diced strawberries

For your not-technically-buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter – either the traditional kind, or (what I used) Earth balance vegan unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla bean paste
  • Coconut milk – only 3 tablespoons, which you can reserve from the can used in the cake
  • Sweetened coconut flakes
  • Strawberries, for garnish

How to make strawberry coconut wacky cake

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a springform pan with a circle of parchment (cut to size) and grease. Dice your strawberries into bite-sized pieces.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Stir in your coconut milk and liquid coconut oil until the mixture is creamy and no dry clumps remain.

Next, whisk in vinegar before folding in strawberries. Quickly transfer to your prepared pan before baking for 35-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Once your cake has baked, allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before carefully removing from the pan to cool on a wire rack. Ensure the cake has reached room temperature before attempting to ice!

While the cake is cooling, we’ll make the frosting. Using an electric mixer, cream together your room temperature butter-of-choice with the vanilla bean paste. Gradually mix in your coconut milk and powdered sugar. If the frosting seems too thin for your liking, mix in additional powdered sugar.

Carefully remove your cooled cake from its pan and cover with icing. Press coconut flakes into the outer surface of the icing to enhance the cake’s coconut flavor and appearance. Garnish with a sliced strawberry or two.

Slice and enjoy! Please, if you made this “wacky” cake at home, take a quick picture and tag @WhiskAverseBaking on social media, or leave a message int he comments below.

Strawberry Coconut “Wacky” Cake

Sometimes known as a "depression cake", don't let the egg-free and dairy-free nature of this dessert scare you away. It is abundantly sweet and pleasantly light – perfect for a birthday or garden party.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 slices


  • Springform pan



  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil liquified
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup diced strawberries approx 5-6 large berries

“Buttercream” frosting

  • 1 stick 4 oz. Earth balance vegan or traditional unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • ¾ cup sweetened coconut
  • Strawberries for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a springform pan by greasing with cooking oil and lining with a circle of parchment.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  • Stirin coconut oil and coconut milk until mixture is creamy.
  • Whisk in vinegar before folding in strawberries.
  • Transfer to pan. Bake for 35-50 minutes, until the center is set.
  • While the cake is cooling, prepare your icing. Cream together your vegan butter and vanilla bean paste before slowly adding the powdered sugar and coconut milk. (Add additional powdered sugar if the texture isn’t to your liking.)
  • Once the cake has cooled completely, ice with your prepared frosting and press sweetened coconut into surface. Garnish with strawberries.


If you don’t have access to a springform pan, any 8″ or 9″ round cake pan can work, though it may be more difficult to remove the cake from those pans.
For a layered version, double the cake recipe and triple the frosting recipe.
Keyword cake, coconut, dairy free, egg free, strawberry, vegan, vegan dessert, vegetarian

2 comments on “Strawberry Coconut Wacky Cake


    The recipe calls for a can of coconut milk but please tell me what size is the can?

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