Monday, January 17, 2011

Wacky Cake

Cheap Eat Challenge: Join or watch as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.
Have a look at Jean's Food Journal for a daily accounting of what I eat, plus some thoughts on the bumps as we go along our way.

(Photo update: I wanted to get some prettier pictures than I had, although we eat this way too fast and I have trouble getting a good pic before we do. Here's to trying.)



And for old time's sake, here's the previous picture: 



I consider myself a moderate eater. I enjoy a variety of foods. I generally stop eating when I'm full. I try to listen to my body and eat how much and the types of foods it's telling me it needs and even wants. I can usually have one cookie, or just a few chips, or a piece of really good chocolate and feel satisfied. But there are a few foods that are, well, let's call them achilles heels. And, yes, I have more than one. And probably more than two. Maybe we should call them achilles toe joints. Anyway, chocolate cake is one of them. And wacky cake is one of the best chocolate cakes there is. My only salvation is that, in the chocolate department, my husband has a more voracious appetite than even I. And a faster metabolism to go with. So he usually gets to enough of it so that I don't end up gaining 700 pounds. Not yet anyway.

And what's so special, so wacky about this here wacky cake? I'm glad you asked. For starters, it's cheap. The lore goes that this was a depression cake (as in a cake of the Great Depression era, not a cake that could cause or cure depression, though used in the right doses, it can certainly do either of those things as well). It required no eggs, no milk, no butter. Sound like your pantry sometimes, well then, there you go.

Secondly, you make it all in the pan. Did you hear that? Do you understand the implications. There is no bowl. If you grew up in a house with no dishwasher, you will understand the sheer and beautiful meaning of that. No wonder we made it a lot when I was growing up.

Thirdly, since it contains no eggs, butter, or milk, it's allergen friendly and can be made vegan with the right kind of sugar.

Fourthly, fifthly, sixthly, and seventhly, it's really moist, really delicious, really chocolate-y, and really really hard to mess up (possible, but difficult), as opposed to other cakes that can be a bit particular (thus the boxed cake craze--bah).

So...make this cake. Just don't forget to feed a lot of it to your husband and kids. Otherwise you might be unable to stop in your sheer consumption of it. (Yes, I did just tell you to sacrifice the health and wellness of those you love most in the name of your own vain self interests. Trust me, they won't mind.)

Wacky Cake
Serves, well, it should serve at least 24
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $.88
(flour: .16, sugar: .32, oil: .12, cocoa: .18, other stuff about .10)

A note on layering: This makes one 9x13. It is too moist to make layers. I like it that way. Should you wish, however, to make a very lovely layer cake that is still intensely good and moist, add 1 C more flour and line your layer pans with wax or parchment paper. We've done this before and it turns out wonderfully.

A note on frosting: Traditionally, this is made with a flour-based wacky cake frosting. We love this frosting, but we often make it with Kip's chocolate frosting. Because we are sick-o's in the chocolate department. If you use the chocolate frosting, it will be intensely chocolate everything. That works for some people, but not for everyone. Both frosting recipes will be included below.

For a mint cake: Substitue the vanilla extract for 1/2 tsp of mint extract. It's really really good. Then you can make a chocolate frosting and put crushed Andes mints on top. Yes, we are apparently over-the-top people in this realm--that's what I was trying to tell you in the first paragraph; weren't you listening?

2 C flour
2 C sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C warm water
2/3 C oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla (or 1/2 tsp mint) extract

In a 9x13 inch pan, mix dry ingredients.



Add wet ingredients.

(Note: We like to make wells for the different wet ingredients--so a little hole for the water, a hole for the oil and a hole for the vinegar and vanilla. Then we make rivers and then mix it all together and the baking soda reacts with the vinegar and fizzes a bit and I don't know why we do this, but we both did when we made versions of this cake as children. It's fun for some reason. But I won't make you make it this way--you can just throw it all in if you want. But it's fun. It fizzes...)



A few smallish lumps in the batter are no big deal.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick (knife, fork, whatever) comes out clean. Note: It is possible that if you bake this in an aluminum pan, vinegar/baking soda will react and cause it to taste like metal, so use glass or a non-reactive metal.

Wacky Cake Frosting

Note on butter: I will give you the original recipe as it is most in keeping with the Great Depression Era Cake theme. However, I must tell you that we prefer this frosting made with all butter. It makes for a firmer frosting, but we don't mind one bit because the buttery-ness is tastier. To us. Some would disagree and find the frosting too firm when it hardens to room temperature.

A note about using flour in frosting: I know it sounds weird. You just must trust me. It totally works. Yes, it seems like you're making paper mache at first, but you are not. You are going to add sugar and butter and vanilla. I ask you, does paper mache have sugar and butter and vanilla. I think not. So trust me. It will be good. Very very good. Trust. Me.

4 Tbsp flour
1 C milk
1 C sugar
1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened considerably
1/2 C (1 stick) margarine
2 tsp vanilla

Mix milk and flour in a saucepan, and cook until thickened. Let it get thick. Don't fear it's weirdness. When it's thick, take it off the heat.



Make paper mache if you will and create a pinata using newspaper. If you do not, at this juncture, wish to make a pinata, then beat butter and margarine (or all butter) together. Slowly add sugar to butter mixture. Beat well. Add milk mixture (i.e. paper mache stuff). Beat very well until there are no (or almost no) lumps. It will take a few minutes. Add vanilla and beat. Taste it. See that your faith has been rewarded.




Kip's Chocolate Frosting
(There will be extra. Serve on graham crackers after you've consumed all the cake.)

One Confession: Kip's recipe is a little hard to pin down. He throws general stuff in and tastes it. Sunday, however, he made the best frosting that he has possibly ever made and I tried to make him remember how much of everything he used. This is what I got.

3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) butter, somewhat melted (halfway melted, in Kip's words)
1/2 C cocoa
1/3-1/2 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
nearly 2 lb powdered sugar (probably 2 C shy of 2 lb--this is the sketchiest part of this recipe--start with less--you can always add more if it's way too runny or thin)

Mix butter, cocoa, and 1/3 C milk. Add other ingredients and beat well. If it's too stiff, add more milk.

(Didn't get a good picture of Kip's frosting; we must have licked the beaters off too quickly, so how about another one of that ooey, gooey cake. It makes me want to go lick the bottoms off the remaining 2 pieces--that's right, only 2, even though we just made this on Sunday. I will refrain. Or that is what I will tell you. And Kip.)

PRINTABLE RECIPE

53 comments:

  1. My mom used to make a frosting similar to the wacky frosting except it was chocolate. Yes, it's true! Try adding a packet of hot cocoa mix after it's whipped together. We called it "fluffy frosting".

    ReplyDelete
  2. That sounds right up our alley.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Question about wacky frosting. Should I have let the milk/flour mixture cool before adding it to the butter/sugar? I'm pretty sure I should have... however, I just poured the melted frosting on the cake, let it soak in then stuck it in the fridge. The frosting is tasty regardless :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Brooke, the recipe I have says cool in refrigerator. This icing taste like vanilla ice cream, soooooo good.

      Delete
  4. We don't let it cool, but I feel like I'm never ready with the other ingredients (shocking), so it gets a bit of a cooling period while I get the butter and sugar beat together. Also, we DO let the cake cool. Otherwise the frosting will melt on/into the cake. Which might not be a bad thing, depending on how much you like gloppy (albeit delicious)cake. Also, if you're using margarine, you're going to have a runnier frosting (like I said, we do all butter), so it would probably be well to not have the flour/milk be too hot with margarine, or to let it all cool afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The kids and I made this cake during snow day today. They enjoyed making the rivers and wells very much (thanks for the tip!). I didn't have powdered sugar for frosting, so I boiled up a can of sweetened condensed milk with a dash of vanilla and a few T cocoa powder, and when it thickened, slathered it on top. Very yummy! I also used a bit more flour in the cake after seeing the gooiness of yours. Even though there's no eggs I know I can't get over the mental block of runny cake. :) It was a big success! Very rich and filling.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No molten chocolate cakes for you, huh, Heather:).

    ReplyDelete
  7. I found your blog today, and after reading this post on 'Wacky Cake' prompted me to make it ASAP. It only took 10 min to add ingredients and mix (same as time needed for oven to preheat!) I had made it before under a different name and love it. I took the option of adding the mint extract, and it is fantastic. Keep up the good work with your food budget!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Amy! Glad you loved it. We do too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I haven't tried this, yet, but as I was reading I thought of a trick I use when making Cream Cheese Pound Cake, which calls for butter and margerine. I use all butter, but I add a little vegetable oil(1/4 c.) as I am beating the butter. It works out well.

    This cake sounds delicious. I'll be trying it one day soon.

    Melinda

    ReplyDelete
  10. I made this cake last weekend and it turned out AWESOME. I mean amazing. I mean, like almost "keep it home instead of taking it to the funeral like I promised" good. Fortunately I'd made a little side cake for the family which we devoured over lunch. Thanks, Tasty Cheapskate!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Not sure what happened but, I made this in an aluminum pan, as I do not have a glass 9X13 pan and I did not see a warning to use a glass pan either. There must have been a reaction to from the vinegar and baking soda or something. It came out tasting like metal. REALLY bad. Also, I made Kip's frosting. I left my butter to room temp and it definitely should have been at least partially melted, when you add the milk (mine was room temp) it took the butter back to solid. I used a double boiler to get it back to the correct consistency, (not cooked, partially melted).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melissa. This is good to know. I only have a glass pan and thus have never ever made this in an aluminum one. I will add a note to my instructions. Also, we do always melt the butter halfway, which is how Kip instructed me to do it. Room temp butter and I (and Kip) are too lazy for each other. I like it easy to mix:).

      Delete
    2. I always make this in an old metal pan and have never had a problem!

      Delete
  12. yes - anything with vinegar breaks down the metal in the aluminum pan. not something you're used to - vinegar normally doesn't go into cakes :) Can't wait to try this one!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've made this cake 3 times in the last 2 weeks. It's amazing! I make it without frosting and we don't miss it one bit!

    However, can this be made in different flavors?

    It's perfect for my nephew, who's birthday is on Friday, because he's lactose intolerant. He also doesn't like chocolate. (what kid doesn't like chocolate?!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my friends mothers makes this and then adds a packet of hot cocoa mix in order to make it chocolate. I haven't tried it, but bet it would work great. That said, I'm sure that adding cocoa, almond flavoring, or any other type of flavor would work pretty well with it, though I haven't tried, so can't promise.

      Delete
    2. I made this again tonight, to try out a different version. Turned into red velvet with cream cheese frosting and it was perfect!

      The changes I made were pretty simple. I used 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder & 4 tablespoons of red food coloring. And used 1/4 cup less water to accommodate for the food coloring.

      Delete
    3. That's completely awesome. I'd never thought to try it as a red velvet. Perfect.

      Delete
  14. The frosting tastes like vanilla pudding to me. I could just sit here and it it.. ok I am. Great recipe. I was a little concerned by putting 'gravy', in the butter, sugar combo. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love it--that's what I should call it: gravy frosting.

      Delete
  15. Can we be best friends? This is amazing. Made it last night in Prague--it's so difficult to bake here with foreign ingredients and measurements; this reaffirmed my faith in everything. THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally get it. I lived in The Netherlands and Belgium (and also Taiwan, which was the toughest) for a while and found it tricky to bake so many things. It was nice to have a few staples I could count on.

      Delete
  16. What kind of vinegar do you use? White or apple cider?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just use the plainest of plain vinegar. However, you can use apple cider or white wine vinegar. There might just be the tiniest hint of a flavor, but most if not all of the flavor will cook off.

      Delete
  17. This is my all-time favorite cake! The recipe I have says that you can use leftover coffee in place of the water, and I think it adds a delicious flavor. I also love Wacky Cake topped with peanut butter frosting. So many options!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you love it. And I think it would kick butt with peanut butter frosting.

      Delete
  18. I grew up on this cake. My grandmother grew up during the depression and WWII. She always made a boiled white frostng but it was the best cake ever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We always ate it with the white frosting too growing up. My husband is the one who corrupted us so we sometimes make a fudgy one now.

      Delete
  19. We grew up with this, only we called it "cock-eyed cake"! And we didn't do frosting, just topped it off with powdered sugar. Mom used to make a smaller batch in a 8x8 for our little family, but we gobbled it up with ice cold milk...

    And now I'm going to have to make some.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This cake looks wonderful. How would you convert it to gluten free? Most of those flours seem much drier and need xanthum gum too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I don't know. My best guess would be to try oat flour, or maybe oat flour mixed with another drier flour. I wish I was more of a pro here, but I have limited experience with eliminating gluten and oat flour is always my go to:).

      Delete
    2. I'm going to try it gluten free using the Jules Gluten Free flour. I've had the most success using it for baking, so I'll report back once I've made it!

      Delete
  21. This cake is my favorite cake and I know cake! My Mother-In-Law made wedding cakes and often used this recipe for her cakes and used butter cream frosting. Butter, powdered sugar, pet milk and vanilla. Oh amazing!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is exactly the same recipe as our family cake! We call it 'Puddle Cake' because after you add all the ingredients together the liquid looks like puddles. We've never put icing on it before though, so I will have to try this out!

    ReplyDelete
  23. So glad to hear from people who love this as much as I do.

    ReplyDelete
  24. My husband loves ultra-rich, ultra-chocolatey cake, so every year I bake him one for his birthday. I always try a different recipe as I'm still searching for that "perfect" one. Today I made this cake and I'm actually a little disappointed. It is very moist, which is great, but I found the flavor of the cake lacking. Maybe it's just that I'm used to the super chocolatey versions of past years, but it tasted similar to a boxed cake mix...now that I think about it, that makes sense, since it has no milk, eggs, or butter. Maybe I'll tweak a few things and try it again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry you were disappointed. It's definitely true that there are more chocolate-y cakes around. You might try some flourless cakes. Or there are two other cake recipes on this site that are more intensely chocolate-y and I think just delicious. Also, I'm afraid I'm going to have to defend this cake against the boxed cake comparison because it is just so much better. Boxed cakes do maybe share some characteristics with this cake (moistness and this is--obviously--not buttery since it doesn't have butter), but boxed cakes have that sort of fake chocolate-y flavor and color. This one might not be as chocolate-y as you want (and I totally get that), but it is the real mccoy and I think it tastes like real food/real (and good) chocolate, not boxed cake.

      Delete
  25. This is the craziest most delicious cake I have ever eaten. Honestly. Crazy in the sense that it was so dark and rich I thought I had burned it! But oh.. It was soooo good. I have been looking for a recipe like this for a long time. My stomach is very fussy, and does NOT like boxed cake mixes, however, this did not irritate my stomach in the least and it just tastes so much less... Plastic-y? (For lack of better words.) Thank you for sharing it's yumminess with us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad you liked it. And thank you for telling me. It feels so good to hear.

      Delete
  26. Love making this cake! Kids can help me make it too!
    Plus it reminds us of good friends!

    ReplyDelete
  27. This cake was a HUGE hit with my family. In fact we gave half of it to our close friend! Sadly, the cake didn't last more than two or three days O_o but it was worth it!

    That chocolate frosting btw is awesome! I keep the beater for myself lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When my husband frosts the cake, he "scrapes out" the bowl, but there's always a bunch left in it for him to lick out.

      Delete
  28. I have this cake in the oven now. It looks and smells delicious. I halved the recipe, didn't have any cocoa, substituted vanilla chai latte mix, decreased sugar by three tbs.. Baked in an 8"x8" glass pan. It is not chocolate but has a rich caramel color.

    ReplyDelete
  29. All purpose flour or self rising? That may be a stupid question but I can screw up anything in the kitchen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a stupid question--ALL PURPOSE. Good luck:).

      Delete
  30. Made this tonight and was quite disappointed. Not gooey at all like the image and I only cooked for 25 min. Also was a bit flavourless.

    ReplyDelete
  31. We made this cake ALL the time growing up!! Best part is watching all the fizzing!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Jeanie! This cake is just too good to be true. I was looking for a recipe for a bake sale. This ticks on all the points. Cheap, egg free, butter free. So incredibly moist . People are not gonna believe its egg less. Thanks so much! I would love If u can adapt this recipe to make a cake roll and tell us...

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...