[Note from Serene: I'm so glad Carin is sharing this cake with us. I make it now and again because it's easy and vegan, but I didn't grow up with it. It does make me want to dig out a few of my mom's recession-friendly recipes, though. Times are tough all over.]
Dessert wasn’t an everyday occurrence when I was growing up. We were poor, and while Mom made sure there was enough to eat, there wasn’t always room in the budget for extras. Special occasions warranted special foods, of course, but every once in a while Mom would put together a treat just because. If it was something that could be made cheaply it was likely to make more than one appearance in our home.
Crazy Cake (aka Wacky Cake and Depression Cake) was one such treat. Requiring no eggs, butter, or milk, it relies on a chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar for leavening. “Vinegar!?!?” I hear you exclaim. Yes, vinegar, but you won’t taste it at all in the finished cake. All you will taste is a lovely rich chocolate cake.
Traditionally, Crazy Cake is mixed by hand right in the baking pan, reducing the number of dishes to be washed afterward. The dry ingredients are sifted together, then the wet ingredients are poured into depressions made in the dry stuff.
Like many folks these days, I’m poor again, and living with Dad. The silver lining (aside from spending time with Dad) is that I get to use the very measuring cups, sifter, and 9” x 13” baking pan with which Mom made this cake when I was growing up. They’re old and beaten up, not pretty at all. In other words, they’re perfect!
There are dozens of recipes online for Crazy, Wacky, or Depression Cake. Some of them include coffee, stewed raisins, or other fruit, but none of that went into Mom’s Crazy Cake. If you want to try the recipe I use, you can find it here. Taste the cake without frosting, first. You may decide it doesn’t need any. A dusting of powdered sugar is a nice optional finish.
Another nice thing is that the cake is vegan if you use beet sugar. Your non-vegan friends won’t know the difference, and your vegan friends will thank you for your thoughtfulness.