Long before bookstores and libraries displayed an abundance of vegan cookbooks, long before the Internet had a cornucopia of vegan recipes ready at the touch of a button, long before you could pick up decadent vegan treats from the market on your way home from work, and long before geniuses like Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Dreena Burton were creating their mouthwatering sweets, we had the humble wacky cake.
Wacky cake is a creation most likely borne of lack- perhaps during the Great Depression, perhaps long before, when people did not have an abundance of luxury items like eggs, milk, or butter to bake with. As a result, wacky cake was created, a rich chocolate cake that belies its humble roots, and just happens to be vegan as well.
The secret to wacky cake is vinegar, or rather the reaction of baking soda with vinegar to create fluffy light cake. If you google "wacky cake," you are sure to come up with 100's of recipes, but this is how we make it:
- 1 1/2 cups minus 1 TB unbleached all-purpose flour (I find that whole wheat pastry and spelt flour, or any combination of those work well as well)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 cup icy cold water
- powdered sugar for garnish, optional
Method:Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla, in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir just until moistened. Pour into 8 x 8-inch pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.
Voilà- a quick, easy, delicious vegan cake, possibly the ancestor of all vegan chocolate cakes. I love giving this recipe to non-vegans, because it doesn't have any "scary" or exotic ingredients such as soymilk, flax, Earth Balance, etc. It is the essence of simplicity.
In the spirit of simplicity, top your wacky cake with something equally light and carefree- perhaps a bit of dark chocolate pudding?
Or a simple chocolate ganache made by melting some dark chocolate chips in the microwave with a couple of drops of soymilk for 10-20 seconds?
Wacky cake is also pretty flexible- one of my favorite versions was one Daiku baked with whole spelt flour, finely chopped cherries, and chocolate chunks in the batter.
Have you made a wacky cake lately?
One year ago today: On 4 October 2006, I was having Fun with Fufu