I was a newlywed when I first set foot on British Columbia soil. My husband though spent most of his youth in the northern part of the province, in the city of Prince George. Like most northern areas, it’s a little rough and tough than southern parts. For my husband and his three brothers, moving there from Victoria, was a dream come true…fishing, skating, hockey, snowmobiling, need I say more?
I started to suspect all the rumors I had heard about northern B.C. just might be true once we boarded the flight from Vancouver to Prince George. Thirty minutes in, the pilot announces over the speaker system, that if everyone does not settle down and quit being rowdy, he was going to turn the aircraft around and head back to Vancouver! Apparently, most of the passengers had just attended a football game, and I don’t need to mention whose team had won. What was I in for??
Once we arrived we settled in nicely with the family. That is until my husband decided to go to work with his dad and brothers on the construction site where they were framing a house. Thinking I would impress my hubby and family, I offered to get up early the next morning to make his lunch. My mother-in-law usually laid all the food out on a counter in the morning and the boys made their own. Standing back politely, sipping coffee, I patiently waited for everyone to finish before I took my turn. After all we were just visiting, my husband having left two years before to move out east.
The boys quietly and groggily went about their business, and then left the room. Walking over to survey the scene, I was horrified to see there was nothing left. I mean absolutely NOTHING!! Every slice of bread, every piece of cheese, meat, lettuce, gone. Worst still, every single slice of the lovely chocolate cake I saw his mom make the day before, you guessed it…. gone!
Being too polite to say anything, I skulked back into the bedroom ranting to my poor husband about what kind of brothers he had. Smiling sweetly, he casually remarked, “That’s o.k. Sweetheart, I’ll make lunch tomorrow, you can sleep in.” To me, it was one of those “Wacky mornings”.
My brother-in-laws still chuckle when they hear that story related. Unfortunately, I never did get the recipe for that delicious Wacky Cake, as my mother-in-law called it, but years later, scouring through my mom’s Barbour Cook Book, I found it. Although I don’t remember, my sister tells me mom made it occasionally. I wish she had made it more often.
This recipe is quite unique, as it is vegan, although I venture to say that in the thirties or forties when this cake was created not too many would have understood what that meant. The story goes, Wacky Cake was invented during the hard times right after the war, when certain food items were either too expensive or rationed. Housewives had to use what they had to best advantage. This is true about this cake; it’s made without egg or dairy, perfect for anyone with food sensitivities. The mixing of the vinegar, baking soda and baking powder, reminds me of my science experiments in school.
This cake is very moist, with a rich chocolate taste, and with a few extra adjustments to the recipe, such as adding coffee in place of the oil, or adding the oil of your choice ( I used grape seed), you have one of the simplest, but tastiest cakes you will ever make. All mixed in one pan, although I will admit, I made mine in a bowl, then poured it into the pan (didn’t want to scratch my new pan). This is a great cake for beginner bakers with inexpensive ingredients to practice on, and the added bonus of being able to lick the spoon without worrying about getting sick from raw eggs. Go for it kids, have fun with this easy cake!
Wacky Cake has been used for years as the go- to recipe for fast, economical results. I know that with five kids to feed, my mother-in-law highly prized this cake, and today it brings back fond memories to my husband. Yes, I know this cake doesn’t have that intense chocolate flavour that some might crave, but this cake was created in a time when every dollar counted because times were tough, and to be honest, it’s a pretty amazing recipe when you consider how little ingredients are in it. If you would like a little more chocolate, try a rich chocolate icing.
Today, many families struggle with food allergies, as well as financial troubles, but with this Wacky Cake, you truly don’t have to give up on home baking. Try it; it’s insanely good!
- Adapted from Barbour Cook Book
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour (sifted)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 or 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil *
- 1 cup warm water *
- *Note* I used grape seed oil; avocado would work well.
- *Note* Warm coffee may be substituted.
- Method: Preheat oven 350F degrees . Grease a 8x8 inch square cake pan.
- Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa. Many Wacky Cake recipes instruct you to mix the ingredients right in the cake pan. I chose to use a bowl.
- Make three holes in pan or bowl. In first put vanilla; then vinegar; last oil.
- Pour over warm water or coffee.
- Mix together, but do not over mix .
- Bake 25 minutes, or until tooth pick comes out clean.
Wackiest Porter (Beer) Icing:
1/4 cup soft butter (for Vegan use Earth Balance spread)
2 cups sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons Porter
Cream butter until fluffy. Add 1 cup icing sugar gradually and cream together.Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon Porter. Add remaining sugar and Porter alternately. Beat until smooth, then spread over top of cake.
Drink rest of Porter, and have a piece of cake!!
Note of Interest: The glass ribbed bowl that I used for the flour and sugar mixture was a wedding present for my mother and father. As well, the large old metal spoon is also a family antique. Although I do not know how old it is, I am pretty sure it was one of my Grandmother’s who was born in the late 1800’s.