(Wacky) Chocolate Cake

September 16, 2012

We are in the thick of birthday season at my house and I have been baking a lot of cakes.  I've also been eating a lot of cake.  It was my birthday, my two boys got a year older, and I also made cake for two friends.  All in the last month.  It's my new 'cake a week' diet.  Incidentally Emily and Mr. Emily are doing 'Sugar-Free September'.  Good thing we live so far away from each other so I can't tempt them with my delicious and beautiful cakes.  Are you jealous that I have my own personal cake decorator?  Mr. Carlee always does the finishing touches on our cakes after I've assembled them and put on the main frosting - we have a good thing going on. 

Can I share my new favourite cake recipe?  Maybe you are all familiar with this type of recipe, but I just learned about the beauty of the chocolate 'wacky' cake this year from my friend Kelly. 

This is a great basic cake recipe.  I love that it is made entirely with stuff I always have in my pantry.  The recipe dates from the earlier (some things I read said the Depression and others WW11) when ingredients like butter, eggs, and milk were expensive and out of reach for lots of families.  There is no dairy or eggs, so it's great for vegans, and those with egg allergies.  Not so great for those people with loads of will-power and their 'Sugar-Free September', but you can't please everyone.

The last few times I've made chocolate frosting I've just sort of winged it.  For me this works since I have an idea of the taste and texture I want, and I know more or less how to get there.  I prefer to use cocoa powder for frosting over actual chocolate.  My reasoning for this is that I have an easier time  making a stiffer frosting without it being overly sweet.  And it's cheaper, so in my books it's a win.  

We had a hard time getting a good picture of the texture because the cake is so dark.  My apologies for not being a better food photographer.

Wacky Chocolate Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa (I use Hersey's Special Dark)
2 TBSP vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup + 2 TBSP oil
2 cups cold water

  1. Sift the first five ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  The original recipe that I use calls for only 5 TBSP of cocoa, but I add more because I like it dark.   
  2. Make three indentations into the mixture.  Into the first hole pour the vanilla, into the second, vinegar, into the oil into the third.  
  3. Pour 2 cups of cold water over the mixture.  I've also tried replacing some of the water with milk, buttermilk, or sour cream.  All are delicious and give it a slightly different taste.  Which is good when you are making a cake every week during Birthday Season.  
  4. Beat until smooth.  
  5. Spray your pans with Pam with Flour and pour in the cake batter.   
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes for a 9 x 13 pan.  When using two round cake pans, bake it at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Reducing the heat makes the cakes bake flatter and means you have to trim off less when you are leveling and stacking your layers.  
  7. Pull the cakes out of the oven when a toothpick comes out clean. 
  8. Cool for at least 10 minutes before turning your cakes onto a wire cooling rack.  

Winging It Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
5 cups icing (powdered) sugar
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese until evenly mixed and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Add sugar. If you need some white icing for decorating your cake, add the sugar first and then save some in a little ziplock bag (if you are not fancy and do not have piping bags). 
  4. Add cocoa.  If you want it less chocolaty, start with less cocoa and add sugar and cocoa until you are happy with the taste and texture.  I find this type of frosting to be very forgiving.  It's hard to go wrong with butter, cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa.   
  5. Frost your cake.  If your icing seems a bit too soft, chill it for a bit in the fridge.  You don't want it too cold and stiff or it will tear your cake (although if you are using frozen cakes this is not really a problem).  

Isn't my son sweet?  He was so bashful when we were all singing Happy Birthday too him.  Thankfully we have a break before the birthdays start up again around here.  I LOVE this cake, but I'm ready to go back to eating cookies for awhile.  


Danya Banya said...

My niece has bad egg allergies, so this recipe is perfect for her. Can't wait to make it!

rachelle | tinkerlab said...

Mmm, this looks really good, Carlee. I made vegan cupcakes for my daughter's 2nd birthday and it was the MOST requested dessert recipe I've ever had. And no apologies necessary...your photos are all fantastic.

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