Social distancing with my two teenage boys, my husband and my dog for the last month, has been both a blessing and a curse, as they say. Have I loved binge-watching “Dexter” on a nightly basis while eating popcorn and leftover Easter candy or slices of cake or a bowl of ice cream (yes, the “no-eating in the TV room” rule was discarded weeks ago), all of us snuggled together on the couch (okay, that’s a lie—there’s no snuggling happening, as the three over 6-feet giants with whom I cohabit are not really all that snuggly)? Of course! Doing so is literally the highlight of every day. And have I loved how my husband (enthusiastically) and my children (reluctantly) help with dinner each night? Yes! So fun. The best. And is it a treat to see my kids a bit less stressed by school, extracurricular activities, their social lives, etc? 100%. I’m kind of the anti-helicopter mom, and so seeing them slow down and feel less pressure is indeed a blessing in my world.
But you know what is very much not a blessing (that’s right, you guessed it—the curse) of all of this? Cooking and preparing food 24/7 for two boys with voracious appetites and a husband who is big on snacking. I mean, of course, I love feeding my family, but every meal, every day, for weeks on end? No thanks. Not to mention the fact that we are trying to go to the grocery store infrequently, and when we do go, we cannot find the majority of items for which we are looking (GoGo Squeeze and toilet paper, I’m looking at you). And, to make matters worse, I make and write about sweets professionally, and items like flour, sugar, and butter are—as many of you can attest to—in short supply. Enter the chocolate “wacky” cake, a blessing, indeed, and a cake that I have always loved to make and eat, but one that is now on permanent rotation in my (cursed) “always-open for business” kitchen.
A “wacky” cake or a “depression” cake, as it is sometimes called, is a cake that is made without butter or eggs or dairy—wacky, I know. Many believe that such cakes, requiring none of the ingredients one usually thinks of when cake-making, rose to popularity when said ingredients were scarce (ie: during the Great Depression). Thus, I think we can all agree that it is not such a huge leap to think about baking up such a cake (or many) right around now, and that is exactly what I have been doing and am hoping you will, too.
My chocolate wacky cake recipe does call for flour, cocoa powder and sugar (you can use granulated or brown—light or dark), so if you cannot find one of those, sadly—for you and your littles—you will not be baking up a wacky cake any time soon. But if you have those items on hand (or can find them in the grocery store), as well as some leavening, vanilla, salt, vegetable oil, and vinegar, well, then you, my friend, are in luck (you also need water, but am hoping (praying?) that it is a given that you’ve got that.
The cake comes together simply in a bowl with a whisk, as I like to think of myself as the “queen” of easy-peasy sweets, and this is the easiest of the peasiest. My recipe also includes ingredients and instructions for a simple chocolate frosting, but it does require butter and heavy cream, and if those prove challenging to find, then skip the frosting altogether—the cake is so moist and deeply chocolatey, that I swear you’ll hardly miss it, and this, coming from a mom who loves frosting as much as her own children. Moreover, without the frosting, the cake is vegan, so there’s that, too.
Vegan or not, however, the cake is delicious—perfect for adults and kids, alike. Moreover, although I am not crazy about baking with my teenagers, and prefer to do it in solitude, actually, if baking with your children is something that brings you joy—or gets them off of their screens, albeit briefly—this cake is for you, as it is one of those baking “projects” that couldn’t be easier or faster to accomplish. The recipe can be found here. Happy baking and Netflix binging to all, and above all else (and in all seriousness) please be safe and well.