Emergency Cake (No Eggs, Butter or Milk)


Kurt Olsen

A quick and easy cake when you need a cake as soon as possible. This cake may be prepared entirely from pantry goods. There is no need for eggs, milk, or butter. It’s a straightforward one-bowl recipe that may be blended by hand. The cake is light and fluffy.

a slice of frosted cake on a small white plate.

While it was fairly simple to make, the long list of ingredients made me feel like it wasn’t really a cake recipe that I could rely on in an emergency. It required all of the components needed to bake a cake (eggs, butter, milk, flour, etc). When I think of an emergency cake, I envision one with less components. Something you can create without going to the supermarket. So I’m sharing my emergency cake recipe today. This is my go-to cake recipe when I need a fast handmade cake. I love that it can be made with ingredients I already have in my actual pantry (no refrigerator items!).


  • Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Vegetable Oil (or butter)
  • Water

Flour: All-purpose flour is used to make this cake. Never use cake or bread flour. It can also be made with self-rising flour which I share in detail in the notes section of the recipe card.

Baking Powder: Make sure to use baking powder and not baking soda

Sugar: Regular granular white sugar is used to sweeten this cake.

Vanilla: I used pure vanilla extract.

Vegetable Oil: While you don’t need to use vegetable oil, you do want to use a neutral flavor oil or you will taste it. I’ve discovered that vegetable oil works best. If you have butter on hand, the cake may alternatively be made using melted butter. I prefer to make the cake with butter, but the vegetable oil version works well too if you are out of butter.

Water: Water helps make this cake very light and fluffy.

How to Make Emergency Cake

You can either mix the batter with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk. To begin, mix all of the dry ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients quickly to make the mixture light and powdery. Then add the vanilla extract, oil, and half of the water. Mix the batter until there are no more flour lumps. Before adding the remaining water, be sure to remove all of the flour lumps. Then add the remaining water and stir until completely blended.

Emergency Cake versus Depression Cake

This cake, like depression cake or crazy cake, does not need eggs, butter, or milk. However, it is made with baking powder whereas depression cake is usually made with baking soda and vinegar. And it does have an effect. The crumb of crazy cake is significantly looser. This cake has a more dense texture, similar to classic cake.

More Easy Cake Recipes

  • 2 Ingredient Chocolate Cake
  • 3 Ingredient Apple Cake
  • 5 Ingredient Lemon Cake
  • 1 3/4 cups (228 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp (12 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (3 g) salt
  • 1 cup (198 g) granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp (7 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing basin. Whisk until everything is well blended. Then do a quick sift of your mixture by running your whisk rapidly back and forth through the flour until it looks light and powdery. This is an important step because it makes it much easier to mix your batter and not overwork it.
  • Pour in the vanilla extract, oil, and half of the water. Do not add the entire amount of water, otherwise you won’t be able to mix out the flour lumps. Whisk until the batter is smooth and there are no flour lumps. The batter will be quite thick. Once the batter is smooth, add the remaining water and whisk until the batter is smooth again.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 38 minutes, or until the top of the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (I discovered that baking this cake for a bit longer than just until the toothpick comes out clean produces a nicer taste. I use the toothpick test to determine when the cake is done, but I bake it for a few minutes longer until the top is just beginning to brown. Allow the cake to cool fully in the pan before removing it and cutting it. If using frosting, wait until the cake has completely cooled before applying it.
  • If you have self-rising flour, you may make this cake with that as well. Simply use 1 3/4 cups (230 g) of self-rising flour and do not add baking powder and salt into the cake (since it’s already in the self-rising flour).
  • This cake may also be prepared in a circular cake pan 8 inches in diameter.
  • If you have butter, you may substitute it for the oil. I think butter gives the cake a slightly better texture and flavor but the oil version is still pretty good.
  • Optional Buttercream Frosting: I topped it with buttercream icing. For the frosting, you will need 1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature), 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1.5 tbsp of milk. Lightly cream the butter until it is light and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until completely integrated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat on high for 3 minutes, or until the frosting doubles in volume and becomes extremely light and silky. If necessary, add additional milk to get the required consistency.
  • Estimated nutrition does not include frosting. 1 slice per person, Calories: 171kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 148mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 16g, NET CARBS: 29g

The nutrition data supplied is simply an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a registered dietitian. For correct information, as well as any dietary limitations or concerns, please visit a certified nutritionist or doctor.

Related Questions

  • Can you make cake with water instead of milk?

    Most baking recipes that call for milk may be substituted with water. For every 1 cup of milk called for in the recipe, substitute 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. The additional butter helps keep your baked items moist.

  • Can you make a cake mix without eggs?

    1/4 cup plain yogurt may be used in lieu of up to 3 eggs (total). Is it possible to create a Betty Crocker cake mix without eggs? Yes, you can! To do so, replace the three eggs in the recipe with 1/4 cup plain normal yogurt + 1/4 cup (35 g) all-purpose flour.

  • What can I bake If I don’t have eggs?

    Flaxseed is a popular egg alternative among online bakers and chefs worldwide. Combine 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water (and let that mixture sit for 20 minutes), and you’ll have yourself the equivalent of one large egg.

  • Does milk or water make cake more moist?

    A liquid must be added in order to make a moist cake with a great texture. Does milk moisten a cake? Milk does aid in the moistening of cakes. It also does a number of other things in cakes such as helping to provide the proper texture and it enhances the taste.

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For more information or to make comments and suggestions, please contact:
Kurt Olsen
Dairy Development Coordinator, Missouri Department of Agriculture
Phone: (573) 291-5704
E-mail: [email protected]