The story goes that Wacky Cake came into being during World War II, when home bakers wanted to make dessert without breaking into precious rations. A combination of cheaper ingredients – vinegar, vanilla, oil, and water – was used in place of milk and eggs, which not only created a moist, chocolaty cake, but reduced the overall price drastically. Even today, Wacky Cake costs a little over a dollar to make, and is just ever-so-slightly more complicated than using a boxed mix.
Incidentally, Wacky Cake is also excellent for vegetarians, vegans, and kids with dairy allergies. Top it with a little powdered sugar, and you're good to go.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
1. Place an oven rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease 8x8-inch square pan, 9-inch round cake pan, or 12 cupcake tins.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. When finished, make three wells in the dry ingredients.
3. Pour vanilla into first well. Into second well, pour vinegar. Pour oil into third well.
4. Pour cold water over everything and stir until just moist.
5. Bake 30-35 minutes (about 20 minutes for cupcakes) OR until cake springs back when touched OR until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool, and dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.
Note: As one commenter noted, the cake is very tender. To serve, keep it in the pan in which it's baked or take extreme care removing it.
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