Happy ❤️ Valentine’s Day! - No. 190
It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s wacky, and best part, needs no eggs.
A FEW WEEKS AGO I SHARED a French mother’s flourless chocolate cake and mentioned it was perfect for Valentine’s. I’m not sure if it was your comments or my guilt, but I’ve been offering up eggless baking ideas (penance) ever since.
Let me ask a question: Is your Valentine worth cracking nine eggs for? Mine is, but he’s also happy with a recipe that calls for NO eggs.
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Egg prices have continued to stay high, and I remembered the chocolate cake that is moist and rich and doesn’t need a single precious egg—the Wacky Cake. Do you know it?
It’s a goofy, retro cake dating back to 1944 where in the World War II kitchen there wasn’t a lot of butter or eggs. Ever since, it’s been a fixture in small town cookbooks and newspapers because this is a cake you stir together at the last minute using what you have in the pantry, and that could be the 1940s cupboard or the 2020s floor-to-ceiling pantry with pull out drawers. It still works!
Plus, the cake's unconventional prep of creating three holes in flour, cocoa, soda, sugar, and salt, and then pouring vinegar, vanilla, and oil into those holes has me remembering a middle school science experiment or two. Best part: When you pour the warm water over, it looks like failure. But if you have faith, salvation will come and the cake emerges from the oven chocolatey and gorgeous. Should we all say, Hallelujah?
Yes, it’s a cake a 5th grader can make. Or you…just in time for Valentine’s because you have nothing planned to bake.
I top the cake with a warm caramel icing and garnish it with super finely chopped pecans while the icing is still warm. It’s that salty yin and yang of caramel enrobing chocolate I find interesting.
I hope you do, too! Happy Valentine’s!
- xo, Anne
P.S…Coming Thursday for my premium subscribers, a sneak-a-peek surprise!
Everything you need to bake this cake should be right in your pantry. Use your favorite chocolate frosting or my caramel icing that follows. And be sure to toast the pecans before chopping for the best flavor. This cake freezes well, too!
Makes 12 servings
Prep: 10 to 15 minutes
Bake: 25 to 30 minutes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups lightly packed light or dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
6 tablespoons whole or canned evaporated milk
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1. For the cake: Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set aside an ungreased 13- by 9-inch metal baking pan.
2. Place the flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt in the baking pan and sift several times to combine well. With your fingers, make three wells in the dry ingredients. Into one well, pour the oil. Into another, pour the vinegar. Into the third, pour the vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine ingredients loosely. Pour 1 cup of the water over the ingredients in the pan, and stir to combine. Pour the second cup into the pan, and stir to combine well. Place the pan in the oven.
3. Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven to cool.
4. For the icing: Place the brown sugar, butter, milk, salt, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Place the pan in a large bowl filled with 2 cups ice. Whisk the icing until it begins to thicken and is of spreading consistency.
5. Pour the caramel icing over the warm cake, spreading the icing to the edges and corners using a small spatula. If desired, sprinkle on chopped pecans while the icing is warm. Let the cake rest for 30 minutes so the icing hardens and makes slicing easy.
Wacky cake sounds great (but then anything featuring caramel has me at hello) But don't feel bad about egg references! Let me take the heat: I've not been blindsided by egg inflation because I've been buying pastured eggs direct from the farmer for years, paying $6 or $7 a dozen. Buying good food costs more (no fears, I save by limiting eating out, prioritizing good food at home, and seldom eating expensive cuts of meat) Please, folks, support your local farmers, wherever you can. Their eggs look and taste better because they are. And there endeth the sermon. 😀 Or ignore me, rando preacher, and make Anne's yummy Wacky Cake. It's all good.
i'll have to compare this recipe to my MIL's. That's the one I use. Thanks for the caramel icing.