School Lunch Wacky Cake & Saving a Baby Pig

School Lunch Wacky Cake
Chances are, if you ate school lunch in Iowa in the 90’s, you got WACKY CAKE. The school I attended had this recipe down pat. Hands down, going away… my FAVORITE part of school lunch and the beginning of my cake infatuation. This was also the first cake my Mom let me experiment with in the kitchen when I was very young (thank you Mom, those were the best times and proved to be quite helpful.). I used a church cookbook recipe which is very similar to the one I’ll share with you today.
School Lunch Wacky Cake
This cake is SO SIMPLE, that if you are a baking misfit (someone who can’t get anything to work while baking in their kitchen), you MUST TRY THIS. I’m serious. See this photo above? Just toss the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk, add the wet ingredients into wells then pour warm water over the top and whisk until combined. Pour into a greased baking dish and you’re ready to GO! The hardest part: letting the cake cool before icing it. Which brings me to my next PROBLEM: My kid doesn’t like frosting or icing of any kind.

Walking Wilbur The Pig
I’m considering a DNA test, because she can’t be mine if she doesn’t like frosting! (My Dad doesn’t either, and my husband only likes a smear so I shouldn’t be surprised.) I actually leave the frosting on the side (in a covered bowl) of this cake and the people that want it can use as much as they desire, and those who just want the chocolate snack cake alone, can have it!
New Baby Pig
This week we’ve been having lots of babies in the barn we just moved in. The kids are really enjoying heading out to the farrowing house now since it is so close (not a 2 mile carseat ride away, though that isn’t far). The thing that I didn’t see coming… more showers, more clothes, more boots. See, we have to keep the germs from the show pigs in the existing barn away from the new Mamas in the new barn and likewise. This is necessary in maintaining good health among our pigs, but DAAAAANG, the extra laundry… wasn’t exactly what I had planned for!
Baby Pigs
But it is worth it.
This is a picture of everyone anxiously awaiting the next pig of Oink’s litter.The next pig born was having a bit of a hard time, and my daughter got a firsthand lesson in pig CPR and lifesaving. The little guy came out and wasn’t breathing and was pretty lifeless. Within a minute or two of work (by a 6 year old and her Dad), he was back! He struggled a bit… can you see him in the upper left hand corner of this picture? He’s the more white pig on the left. He was a little confused, stumbly and just ‘off’. The bigger piglet on the right hung with him and tried nudging him back to get him something to eat I’d guess. He’d had a rough start to his life, and needed a moment. But I’ll tell you, that little belted ‘helper’ pig didn’t give up…
Helping Little Pig
Well… don’t worry, he did take care of himself (see below), and may be one of the more creative pigs I’ve ever seen. He loves to eat sideways.
Big Pig Rides Bar Sideways
But my husband stepped in and helped the little guy too… and now all is well and you wouldn’t know that he struggled when he was born. Farrowing crates help us give extra attention to pigs that need it, without worrying that the sow will come after us.
Pig Gets Help
After all of that work… you’ve gotta have some cake, man!
If you’ve eaten this cake before, or had it at school lunch, let me know in the comments! (I’d love to track the LOVE of Wacky Cake!)
I’m on my way to Mason City to see my North Iowa Blogger friends and I’ll be at the HyVee store (west)  with the Iowa Food and Family Project from 4-7! See you there!

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School Lunch Wacky Cake

This cake is my favorite! Also dubbed "Depression Cake" for it's inexpensive ingredient list, I learned how to bake this with my Mom, out of a church cookbook. This cake was popular for school lunch in Iowa, and some still serve this cake today!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 1 9x13 cake
Author: Cristen


For the Cake:

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 10 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 cups hot water *could do 1 C water 1 C coffee if desired

For The Icing

  • 5 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 pinch Salt



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make 3 wells, pour in oil, vinegar and vanilla. Pour hot water over the top, whisk well until smooth. Pour in greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool at least 30 minutes before icing.


  • Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. If too dry, add a tiny bit more milk, if too loose, add a bit more powdered sugar.


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  • Reply Colleen Carpenter July 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    This is so good! Very good news about the piglet too!

  • Reply Monica cateron July 30, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I love this cake!!! I used to make a similar recipe while living in England. I just didn’t have access to many of the American food products and mixes I did in the states. So I made this :) Love the baby piggies too. I could spend hours watching them and holding them.

  • Reply countrylinked August 1, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Great news!! Watching baby pigs being born is never tiresome. Love the cake recipe too. Going to have to give it a try!

    Come join us again at the Country Fair Blog Party Cristen! We would love to have you link-up to three of your posts.


  • Reply Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids August 4, 2015 at 3:48 am

    I loved when Wacky Cake was on the School Lunch menu! I’m going to have to try this recipe – and possibly this week because I have all the ingredients and Klayton has been asking for cake the last couple of days. Good to hear all the piglets are doing well. How fun that the kids, despite the increased laundry load, can be even more hands on.

  • Reply Mark Jelley October 17, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Vinegar in a cake?! Not sure Mary Berry would do this but we’ll give it a go and see what happens ☺. You Americans do have some strange ideas, that’s for sure!

    Great blog by the way, it’s lovely to read about family farming in the US and it helps to dispel the image of farming being the sole preserve of mega farms too.

    • Reply Cristen October 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Mark, this ranks as one of, if not the best blog comment of all time for me. You’re so kind to share your thoughts and are welcome on our farm any old time. I’ll even bake you a cake with vinegar in it! Cheers, and thank you so much. Cristen

  • Reply Jen April 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve been making this cake for decades. Never lucky enough to have at school lunch. I got the recipe while I was in high school brought to me by a friend in the army stationed in Germany. His girlfriend’s mother baked it for him and he had to have the recipe. A delicious cake. I do use coffee instead of water and a dash of cinnamon.
    My dad was a farmer so I loved hearing about your pigs—happy little guy made it and thriving!
    Thanks for sharing.

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