Tag Archive for vegan chocolate cake

Wacky Cake

I’m in the process of writing a new cookbook, and inevitably, when I get into recipe development, I start thinking about when I was a kid, learning to bake. For me, as a cookbook author and recipe developer, one of the biggest challenges is creating recipes that are simple and clear enough for people to follow. I have to bear in mind that not everyone has been cooking and baking for the last 20 years, and put myself back into that beginner mindset.

This was compounded when I started visiting my mother’s recipe box. I lost my mom 12 years ago, but I only recently came into possession of her recipe box. The plan is to do some kind of a project with it, and make each of the recipes available to the rest of my family.

But thumbing through those stained recipe cards, written in my mother’s hand (and a few in 12-year-old Becky’s), I’m amazed at the skills I developed. There are no directions on any of her recipes. They are all just a list of ingredients and how long to bake it for. That’s it. It was just assumed you understood that you cream the butters and sugars together, then add the wet ingredients, then finally the dry. It’s no wonder I learned to bake–I had no other choice!

Wacky Cake Recipe

Wacky Cake Recipe written in my mom’s handwriting.

I came across one recipe in my mom’s box that I noted was vegan. Now, we were not vegan, just to be clear. We weren’t even vegetarian. So 98% of these recipes call for butter, milk and eggs. But this one, for some reason, didn’t.

It’s called Wacky Cake, and I thought I’d do a little research on ye ol interwebs about it. Turns out, the recipe was quite popular during WWII when things like butter and eggs were rationed, and scarce. But there were still occasions to celebrate during the war. There were birthdays and weddings and anniversaries. Cake-worthy occasions, that deserved celebration, even in the absence of the requisite ingredients. So they got creative (sounds a lot like what’s happening in the world right now, doesn’t it?)

A recently colourized version of a black and white photo of my mom and dad with my sister, Shelly. My mom is 20.

The recipe calls for a tablespoon of vinegar and also baking soda. Vinegar in an acid, and baking soda is a base. Put the two together? Magic!

Since I started talking about this recipe, so many people have said they have a similar recipe in their families, and universally, this cake is a favourite.

My friend, Chef Nathan Hyam, uses raspberry vinegar in his version. Another friend said they sub the water for coffee for a mocha version of the cake.

Just try it (assuming you can get flour!). I promise this cake does not disappoint.

Oh–the reason it’s called “Wacky Cake” is not just because it lacks milk, butter and eggs. You were also meant to make it by mixing the entire cake in the pan in which it was baked. That’s a little too wacky for me. I made mine in my Kitchen Aid, and I’ll give you directions for that. 😉

Wacky Cake

(recipe courtesy of my mother, Lena Mary Coleman)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon oil (my mom says “salad oil” I assume that means canola or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Method:

  1. In a large bowl place the flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda, and whisk well to combine. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the oil, vanilla, water and vinegar, and whisk well.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet into it. Whisk just until combined.
  3. This recipe makes one 8″ square cake, one 8″ round cake or 12 cupcakes. Be sure to prepare your pan before pouring in the batter by either greasing and flouring the pans, using cupcake liners, or lining with parchment.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Chocolate Pumpkin Beer Cake {Vegan}

This cake has rapidly become my go-to when it comes to birthdays.

Truthfully, I am kind of snob when it comes to baked goods. Despite the fact that my kid loves Oreos, we very seldom have them in the house. I prefer to send him to school with homemade cookies in his lunch.

Chocolate Pumpkin Beer Cake Vegan

Same goes for birthday cakes. Now, I’m not much of a decorator. My cakes are not elegant by any means. Rustic rules the day. But what they lack in finesse, they make up for in flavor.

It was my brother’s birthday a few months back, and I made this cake (for a table full of carnivores). This was the result:

Vegan chocolate pumpkin beer cake

Yup, you don’t have to be vegan to like it. It’s just good cake.

I liked this recipe so much, I put it in my cookbook. This version I’m sharing with you today is a slight adaptation that includes pumpkin, because, well, I had some that needed to be used up, and also, it’s that time of the year. Pumpkin is great to add to vegan recipes because it both binds and helps to make the cake nice and moist.

I’m using a dark beer here. Porters and stouts are perfect for this kind of recipe. They go so well with the chocolate, and they add both a depth of flavor and also a lightness to the cake, from the carbonation of the beer.

So if you’ve never baked with beer, why not?? It rocks.

Chocolate Pumpkin Beer Cake

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1⁄2 cups dark beer (I’m using Granville Island Brewing’s Mocha Porter)
  • 3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp aquafaba
  • 1⁄8 tsp cream of tartar

For the Chocolate Ganche:

  • 1 cup 70% good quality vegan bittersweet (dark) chocolate
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk (approx.)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, whip together the sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and pumpkin. Add the beer and stir again until everything is homogeneous.
  3. Using a hand- or stand- mixer, add the aquafaba and the cream of tartar to the bowl. Whip for about 6-10 minutes, or until soft peaks form.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Carefully fold the whipped aquafaba into the cake batter. Pour into a prepared bundt pan.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool, then remove from the pan.
  6. To make the ganache, melt chocolate and milk together over a bain marie, adding more milk if needed to get the right constancy. Pour over the cake and allow to drip down the sides.

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