An heirloom recipe for a simple cake that just happens to be vegan.
The Wacky Cake is something just about every grandma and church lady in the Midwestern United States can whip up in nothing flat. Maybe you recognize it by another name: the Three-Hole Cake or the Depression Cake. At a time when butter and eggs were scarce or far too expensive, ingenious women (and maybe even a few men) found a way to make their cakes rise. The solution was simple: baking soda and vinegar—an explosive combination, handy for third grade volcanic science projects and bringing a beautiful rise to a cake batter, sans eggs. It very well may be the original vegan cake. This decades-old recipe is simple, light, spongy and not too sweet. Although, truth be told, I’m always up for adding a few handfuls of chocolate chips to the mix. Never hurts. Oh, and dust with a little powdered sugar just before serving. Channel your inner grandma and bake yourself a wacky cake.
- 1½ cups bleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar or evaporated cane juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp white or cider vinegar
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- Vegan chocolate chips optional
- Powdered sugar for serving, optional
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
- Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch (20- or 23-cm) square pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Make three holes in the dry ingredients, one large and two small. Add the vanilla to the first small hole, the vinegar to the second and the oil to the large hole. Then pour the water over everything, add the optional vegan chocolate chips and stir to combine.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack; then cut and serve. Keep at room temperature, wrapped airtight, for up to three days; refrigerate after that. Serves 8.