Cheap and Cheerful Cake


My new favourite cake recipe happens to be one of the cheapest I've ever made. It also happens to be accidently vegan. No eggs, no butter, no milk. How I wish I'd known about it when Katie was little and couldn't tolerate eggs, it would have made the perfect birthday cake. It's an old American recipe dating from the depression era. Sometimes called wacky cake or crazy cake, or just depression cake. I promise it isn't depressing at all, it's very, very cheerful. It's a piece of cake to make as well.

Many versions of this cake instruct you to mix all the ingredients directly in the cake tin. I found it easier to mix them together in a roomy bowl rather than trying not to splash cake batter over the sides of the tin. Also if you stir in the tin you disturb the layer of butter or oil you have used to grease it.

The original recipe is measured in American cups. I like my American cup measures but I've weighed the ingredients for you in both imperial and metric.

Cheap and Cheerful Cake

Makes about 16 pieces depending how big you cut them.

Grease an 8'' (20cm) square or a 9''(22cm) square cake tin with butter, marge or oil.
Preheat the oven to 180°c (160°c fan oven)

Mix together in a bowl

1½ cups/9oz/250g plain flour
1 cup/9oz/250g granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ cup/ 1oz/30g/4 tablespoons cocoa powder 

Add

1 cup/8fl oz/240ml water
⅓ cup/3fl oz/90ml/ 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of vinegar (any will do)

Mix well and pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 30-35 mins. 
Leave to cool before turning out. Ice if liked once it is completely cool.

Wet ingredients ready to be mixed with dry ingredients

The batter is quite runny

After baking

This cake is incredibly moist and is delicious without any icing, but I like to smother it with buttercream. Of course this makes it not vegan but you could ice it with a simple water icing made with icing sugar and water, or you could make a chocolate icing using dairy-free chocolate.

Liberally iced with buttercream made with 3oz of butter, 6oz of icing sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and a dash of vanilla extract

Variations

To make a plain cake omit the cocoa powder but increase the amount of flour by ¼cup/1oz/30g

Add chopped nuts or a handful of desiccated coconut. Glacé cherries, chocolate chips or dried fruit are other possibilities. Instant espresso powder added to the batter and the icing makes a lovely coffee cake.



Comments

  1. That looks and sounds great,shall have to give it a whirl.

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  2. That looks really delicious. I like the idea of adding some vanilla to the chocolate mixture. Jx

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  3. I make this cake quite often also......nice with a chocolate icing too !

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  4. My mom used to make this when I was little. It was a good alternative to cookies. Love a good snack cake!! Thanks for the recipe - and the memories!!

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  5. How inspiring and immediately changed my mind from my planned bake tomorrow to this cake.
    And thank you SO much for translating from cups which I hate using. Wonder why it was called crazy cake.

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    1. I think it's because it doesn't contain eggs or butter/hard fat but still turns out really well.

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  6. I am off to try this one NOW!

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  7. Oh, my goodness, I'd forgotten all about wacky cake. I grew up on that stuff. Must make some right now. Thank you for the recipe, as I have no idea where my childhood recipe has gone.

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  8. Anonymous6:29 pm BST

    Thank you for this! I've been looking for such a simple yet tasty recipe for a while now. And thank you for converting it to the metric system (I am German and don't like measuring cups).
    By the way it is nice that you are back, I enjoy reading your blog very much.
    Vera

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  9. Know what I am doing on Wednesday now...
    And since your last post I have wasted quite a lot of time making mosaics. Don't know whether to thank you or not!

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  10. I used to make something called wacky cake when I was little. I had completely forgotten until I read your post, but I do remember it being delicious. Thanks for the memory jog. CJ xx

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  11. I've never met a miserable cake

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  12. Now, coffee cake, that sounds good or perhaps mocha? Thank you for the recipe Sue.

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  13. Hello, I'm so glad you're blogging again and thank you for the recipe, I'll give it a go, Sian x

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  14. This sounds great. I'll definitely try it as my daughter can't eat dairy and my boys are always ravenous when they get home from school, so cheap is good! Thanks for the recipe.

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  15. Have a friend with an egg allergy who can be my excuse for making this. It sounds great.

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  16. Thank you Sue! I'm so glad you're back! This recipe sounds perfect for my always hungry boys - I usually have those ingredients in stock so even better.
    Best regards
    Heather

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  17. This cake has been our go-to birthday cake for at least 25 years...we call it "puddle cake" because you make a big puddle when you add the wet ingredients.I have many happy memories of baking this cake with my children and their friends. I've even baked it for a vegan wedding! One of my favorite variations is lemon-poppyseed...add lemon zest and substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, leave out the cocoa, and add the seeds of course.

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  18. I'll add my thanks for this lovely recipe and also thanks for so thoughtfully giving out the different measures. So glad to see you're posting again - those wonderful photos!
    Mary

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  19. This looks like the perfect cake to send to school! No dairy, nuts or eggs makes it a winner for everyone. Thanks for sharing, Sue.

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  20. Sue, this is so strange. How is it possible that I've never before heard of this sort of cake. Now I am very curious to give it a go, and if our NYC temp stays on the cool side for a few more days, I'll be tempted to preheat that trusty little oven in my tiny kitchen and get the 2015 baking season off to a good start. (Details of this will eventually appear over at my place. Might turn out to be a pie or crumble, too soon to know.) xo

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  21. I am definitely going to make this..
    I have just found your blog and enjoy it very much.

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  22. That cake looks lovely - what a great recipe.

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  23. Cheap, cheerful and pretty clever really. Has just come out of the oven, it rose magnificently, (though unlike yours, the surface cracked a bit but who cares) and a little hot square had to be tasted almost straight away. Very moist and a good taste seeing as there's no eggs or butter. I left it plain and will just dredge with sugar this time but as you pointed out, lots of possibilities and all with store cupboard ingredients. Thanks, Sue!

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    1. Clever cake indeed. Glad it worked for you Niki.

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  24. Looks delicious. A must try!

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  25. This looks just too good not to try out!

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  26. this sounds rather do-able. Thank you!!

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  27. Wonder if it would work using coconut sugar …. attempting to cut back drastically on the sugar front for all sorts of reasons. Mind you, as a special treat…. see how easily I talk myself into things? Looks great, Sue.

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    1. Coconut sugar is a new one on me Lynne. I think probably if you want to avoid sugar then you should avoid cake. Sadly.

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  28. I have just discovered you are back (sorry bit slow...) and I am so pleased! You have been missed!

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  29. Perfect timing for my 30-Day Vegan Challenge, and two sharing meals this weekend. Thanks Sue.

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  30. Looks like a great cake. I bet it would be marvelous with a cup of warm darjeeling tea! Beautiful. Great photos too. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  31. Made it yesterday. None left. It wasn't even around long enough for me to ice it...
    Thank you x

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  32. Oh oh - guess what - I have to make a cake this weekend - guess what?! Going to give this one a try!!

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  33. What a cheerful title! I made a pumpkin cake last week using that oil/water method. Also very moist, but it didn't hang around long enough for me to make any claims for its keeping qualities.

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  34. Made this three times already since you posted it, and the gannets I live with keep asking for more! I am so pleased with it, and glad you have given us the almond variation today so I shall be trying that version at the weekend - thanks for coming back!

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  35. Genius. My girls and I will be trying this

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