To say times are strange right now is the understatement of the century. I’ve struggled with finding a sense of normalcy. My type-A, control freak personality doesn’t fare well when things are out of my control. I also thrive on routine, as do my kids, so we’re working hard to find a new normal (but wouldn’t it be so, so nice to get back to *actual* normal??). This morning I woke up and thought about how lucky that we are to have found milk and eggs recently, and that I should try to ration them. Not only so that we don’t need more so soon, but so that those who need them can get them, too. Then it hit me: Wacky Cake.
Wacky Cake is a depression-era cake recipe with no milk, no eggs, no butter! It’s perfect for the situation we currently find ourselves in. Not that we’re anywhere near Depression-era rationing, I just know many who are going to the grocery store and finding the shelves empty.
This morning this cake recipe gave me purpose. It’s dumb, because it’s just a cake recipe. While things may not be ideal, my family and I are happy, healthy, and we have what we need. I just couldn’t get out of my head that, with a few pantry staples, other families might be able to have a treat–a sense of normalcy–that maybe they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
And a special shout-out to all the extroverts out there. *waves* My introverted self doesn’t have the same problems you do. I see you. Please stay over there, but I see you. 😉
The entire cake batter mixes up right in an 8×8 glass or ceramic dish–so easy! You want to use glass or ceramic (not metal!), otherwise the cake is likely to have hard edges/burn.
I topped my Wacky Cake with a simple vanilla American buttercream. This does require you to use one cup (two sticks) of butter. If this isn’t something you have or want to use on a cake, you have a few options:
- Have the cake as-is. It’s moist, delicious, and super chocolatey. It would still be a treat with no frosting!
- Drizzle the cake with melted chocolate. If you mix in a little heavy cream, milk, or butter, it will be more like a ganache.
- Mix powdered sugar (sifted!) and water together to a pourable consistency and drizzle over the cake. You could also flavor the glaze with a little cocoa powder, use coffee instead of water, add a little vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste…there are many ways to flavor the glaze to your liking!
I always have vanilla bean paste on-hand, so I *had* to put it in the buttercream. If you don’t have it, you can substitute with an equal measure of vanilla extract. If you’re interested in buying some vanilla bean paste for yourself (my fave!!), you can find it online [here].
I hope that you and your family are healthy, safe, and that you’re finding your new normal. I find that cake helps. 🙂
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Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker (link here).
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1½ tsp vanilla bean paste (see note)
- 1½ tsp heavy cream (or substitute 1 tsp water)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt) in an *ungreased* 8"x8" glass or ceramic (not metal!) baking dish. Use a fork or whisk to combine well.
- Once the dry ingredients are combined, make three wells in the mixture and set it aside.
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Divide the mixture between the three wells in the dry ingredients.
- Pour the hot water over the entire mixture, then combine well using a fork or whisk. Once combined, I used a silicone spatula to clean up the sides of the baking dish to prevent burning.
- Bake the cake 26-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with just a few moist crumbs attached--you don't want to overbake!). Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
For Buttercream (see note):
- Cream room temperature butter and sifted powdered sugar until well mixed and smooth.
- Add vanilla bean paste (see note) and cream (or water). If the buttercream is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar to thicken it. If it seems too stiff, more liquid can be added until the buttercream is the desired consistency.
- Spread the buttercream over the cake, and add sprinkles or other decoration, if desired.Enjoy!
- Have the cake as-is. It's moist, delicious, and super chocolatey. It would still be a treat with no frosting!
- Drizzle the cake with melted chocolate. If you mix in a little heavy cream or butter, it will be more like a ganache.
- Mix powdered sugar (sifted!) and water together to a pourable consistency and drizzle over the cake. You could also flavor the glaze with a little cocoa powder, use coffee instead of water, add a little vanilla extract...there are many ways to flavor the glaze to your liking!