01 November 2012

Vegan Viands #2: Wacky Cake

I should be grading. Instead, I've done a small bit of grading, some bill-paying (it's the beginning of the month), helped a panicked student with a grant proposal, and am now writing a blog post. However, this post will be short and I promised myself I would go back to grading when I'm done.

Tomorrow night Shana and I are going over to the house of some friends for dinner. We have so much fun with them! We'll play games and laugh and talk (about work, as they both work at my school, Shana's kids/job, and life). We're also making pizza with them, so there will be eating. But what's more fun is that one of them has a birthday on Sunday! However, apparently she doesn't like a big deal made of her birthday, but her husband told me that it would be fun to celebrate with just the four of us, but it's a mini-surprise for her. There won't be presents, but there will be cake! I offered to make one to bring over, and since she's lactose intolerant, a vegan cake fit the bill.

I was told that she liked chocolate cake and since one of my psych colleagues reminded me about the deliciousness of wacky cakes, that's the direction I went. Wacky cakes are rumored to have started either during WWII rationing or during the depression (as they are egg, milk, and butter free, which were rationed and/or expensive). I thought sugar was rationed during WWII as well, but I wasn't alive, so I don't know and I didn't take the time to look it up on teh interwebs. Regardless of where it came from, it's a delicious, moist, and easy cake, made with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry.

This is the cake before frosting. 
With a delicious (and easy!) peanut butter frosting. 

Chocolate Wacky Cake
Ingredients
3 c. all purpose flour
6 T. cocoa powder (see Helpful Hints)
2 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 T. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. cold water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
2. Make three separate wells in the dry mixture for the oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Add the oil to the largest, and the vinegar and vanilla to the other two.


3. Pour water over everything and mix well (a few lumps are fine). I just use a spoon and a whisk.
4. Bake in a 9x13 baking dish for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Helpful Hints
  • The type of cocoa you use will affect the cake. Often you can buy two varieties of cocoa powder at the store: natural unsweetened or Dutch-processed. Here's the difference. In this cake, I used Hershey's "Special Dark" Cocoa, which is a blend of both. Shana and I agreed that the batter tasted like brownie mix. 
  • You can mix this right in the pan! I didn't this time, but you totally can! It will save on clean-up. 
  • I haven't decided about frosting as of yet. Many people do a chocolate frosting, many a vanilla, but do what you'd like. If Shana didn't hate peanut butter as a dessert, I'd do that in a heartbeat!
  • This can also be made into a chocolate-mint cake by adding 1/2 tsp of mint extract (and removing some or all of the vanilla) or even into a vanilla cake by omitting the cocoa and adding a bit more flour (maybe 3-4 T.?) and vanilla. 

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