I occasionally get invited to an impromptu dinner party. I often wonder if I get the invite mostly because it’s a fact that almost always I will volunteer to bake something.
This past weekend there was one of those last minute dinner/birthday get togethers and I mentioned I could bake something. I’ve been meaning to try this wacky cake recipe that I found in the book: All Cakes Considered. I actually have wanted to try many of the cakes in the book. This was the quickest one that I could pull together and still make people happy. It’s chocolate with a fluffy white icing. I used my own white icing recipe.
According to the author, Melissa Gray, she interviewed Mary Carole Battle on NPR about this cake. It was a cake her mother used to make for her as a child. It’s considered wacky for the fact that there are no eggs, butter or milk in the recipe. People wrote e-mails to NPR about their wacky cakes. They were also called crazy cakes. It was explained that it was crazy as they were made during World War II and this was the home baker’s attempt to deal with the wartime shortages. Apparently there are many other stories that explain the origin of this cake.
I let my little baker assist with the prepping. It is literally a one bowl cake.
The instructions include making three holes in the dry ingredients to fill it in with the wet ingredients; a completely irresistible baking project for a kid. This is a really fun cake to make with kids. The frosting part is definitely for an adult to make as it involves really hot sugar syrup. But watch out when the frosting is ready! You will have to hide the bowl before you frost the cake. I used my recipe that is on the blog and it is a keeper recipe. Everyone at the party loved the cake. It’s a cinch to put together and moist. I thought maybe next time I would add chocolate chips to it so it could have a little more rich chocolate flavor. Nobody else seemed to mind it as it was and it was devoured in minutes. I think this is a lovely and quick cake to put together and impress your friends when they invite you over to a last minute party.
cake from: All Cakes Considered
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan (you could also use a 9-inch square cake pan).
In a large mixing bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Make three holes in the dry ingredients; pour the vanilla in the first, vinegar in the second, and oil in the third.
Pour the cold water over the mixture. Stir the mixture together until it is no longer lumpy.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer cake to a cooling rack.
While cake is baking, prepare the frosting.
Fluffy White Icing-Marshmallow Frosting
1 cup of granulated white sugar (not powdered sugar)
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium saucepan, bring the 1/3 cup of water, sugar, cream of tartar to a boil. Do not stir the sugar mixture as it will cause it to crystallize. Boil until you have thick clear bubbles ( should only take about 5 minutes and reads a temperature of 245 F). Be careful not to boil even 1 second longer. *(If a mistake happens and you do boil the sugar too long and end up with an amber colored sugar mixture, don’t throw it away. Add some heavy cream and you have an amazing caramel sauce. soon as it comes to a rapid bubble, because it will turn amber, and than you would have to quickly make a different recipe, and add heavy cream, which would be "caramel sauce").
In a metal bowl, add all the egg whites, and beat the egg whites until starts to get a little thick and forms soft peaks. Set your timer for 7 minutes. Now slowly (take care and do not let this boiling hot sugar syrup burn you) add the sugar syrup only a little at a time and beat on high speed for 7 minutes.
On the last minute, beat in the vanilla extract. The frosting will be fluffy and light. My mom recommends adding a drop of food coloring if you want to be daring. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.