Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
The Convenient Truths
Ingredients: regular things you have in your regular pantry
Time: 10 mins prep, 30-35 mins baking, 1 min clean up
This recipe is somewhat of a family heirloom. My grandma has been making this cake for her whole life, and she got the recipe from her mother. Whenever it’s someone in my family’s birthday, my grandma has him or her over for dinner and cooks their favorite meal topped off with their favorite dessert, and I can’t think of a time when my dad didn’t request this cake. It is the most moist, chocolatey cake I’ve ever had, smothered in sugary icing which gets that kind of crystallized layer on top when it’s allowed to set. For the chocolate-lover I was raised to be, it was the epitome of deserts.
When I chose to adopt a vegan diet though, I discontinued my membership to the dessert club at family gatherings. I would watch from a safe distance as my grandma would plate slice after slice, all of them calling my name, but none of them meant for me.
But relief was soon to come! Before withdrawal hit too hard, my sugar cravings were satiated when, about 6 months ago, my two-year-old cousin developed allergies to dairy and eggs. Previously, my grandma had upheld the logic that in any of the deserts she made, take cookies, for example, there wasn’t that much egg. If she got two dozen cookies out of a recipe that called for two eggs, one cookie only contained one twelfth of an egg, so “I wouldn’t even notice it,” and “It couldn’t possibly hurt,” me to eat it. But now that it actually would hurt my cousin to consume even one measly little twelfth of an egg, she got the picture, and delved into the territory of vegan baking.
This led to the revelation that, by substituting Vegan Becel for not-so-good old-fashioned butter, this long-revered recipe for chocolate cake was easily veganized. Thank god.
While most cakes rely on eggs for binding, and substitutions can often create greatly disappointing textures, this recipe never called for eggs in the first place. So what does hold it all together? I’m no chemist, but I suspect that it’s the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar, and also something to do with the warm water.
Now, here’s the thing that really gets me about this unsupposing chocolate cake: I had eaten it for many non-vegan years without knowing that it’s called “Wacky Cake.” When I copied my grandma’s recipe and set to baking it for the first time, I found out why it possesses, and rightfully so, such a name. Take everything you know about the difficulties, peculiarities, and finicky-ness of vegan cake baking, and throw it out the proverbial window. There is no agonizing over the speed of eggbeaters or counting spoon strokes or mixing wet and dry and hoping for a clump-free batter. Mind-bogglingly fuss free, it is honestly the wackiest cake recipe I’ve ever seen. The first time I tried it, I was convinced it would never work. But, against all odds, it turned out to be the best cake I’ve ever made. All the ingredients go straight into the cake pan (no bowls = no dishes) and, even though it looks like a disaster, it stirs out into a smooth batter and rises to perfection in the oven.
So here it is, the only chocolate cake recipe you will ever need, for the rest of your life:
Makes one nine-inch Wacky Cake or twelve Wacky Cupcakes
(for the cake part)
-1 ½ cups flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-2 tblsp baking cocoa
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/3 cup melted margarine
-1 tblsp white vinegar
-1 cup warm water
(For the icing, AKA the best part)
-2 tblsp melted margarine
-2 tblsp baking cocoa
-1 ½ cups icing sugar
-splash of hot water (add until desired consistency is achieved)
Preheat oven to 350 C. In an un-greased 9-inch cake pan (yep, you read right, put it right in the pan), mix all dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. Add wet ingredients and stir until batter is smooth. Again, just add each wet ingredient singly, right into the dry mixture, no bowls or pre-combining required! It’s going to look like a clumpy mess and it will be a little white and foamy on the top, but just keep stirring until you have a uniform mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on cooling rack completely before icing.
For the icing, combine all ingredients until smooth. Then, lay it on thick! I ice and serve the cake right in the pan. You can get fancy by mixing the batter in a bowl then spooning it into lined muffin tins to make cupcakes, just make sure to adjust your baking time (about 12- 15 minutes should do). You can even go for the gold and make a layer cake by doubling (or dare I suggest, tripling?) the recipe and stacking them up. You can get creative and top it with coconut, walnuts, raspberries, or whatever other flavor you love paired with rich chocolate. Whether you dress it up or keep it simple, this is the perfect chocolate cake- So delicious that no one will ever suspect how easy it is!