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:
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.)
Serves, well, it should serve at least 24
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
(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
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.)