Ok, so first off this name is a little tongue-in-cheek, as this cake has no actual mental health/medicinal/curative properties, but did come from a recipe for a cake written during the Depression. It is also sometimes called wacky or crazy cake.
I tried it during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when eggs, butter and icing sugar were not available in stores in my area.
For a cake with no eggs, butter or milk and an icing without icing sugar, it is pretty amazing! However to the base recipe I’ve added some flavourings that I think are needed to “spice things up” with such a frugal cake. The two choices I suggest are either *ancho chili powder (sometimes labelled as “Mexican chili/chilie powder” – do NOT use Chili powder which is a spice blend including garlic and cumin- the closest alternative would be cayenne pepper) or almond extract, in addition to the vanilla extract to add another layer of flavour complexity. I also made an icing/ganache/glaze thing with chocolate chips and regular sugar that worked out quite well despite going against everything a professional chef would tell you to try.
Pandemic Friendly Chocolate Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of almond extract OR Ancho Chili powder *
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/3 cup vegetable/grape seed/ neutral oil
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, vinegar, either the almond extract or chili powder, oil and water. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until no lumps remain.
- Pour batter into a greased or parchment lined 8×8 square pan or round cake pan.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Let cake cool completely before frosting if you are using icing sugar and looking for a traditional type buttercream frosting, or do it warm for a glaze type frosting that drips off like in the photo. Or skip the icing.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave using a microwave safe dish). Stir in cocoa powder, mixture will form a thick paste. If using chocolate chips/pieces, melt for 15 second intervals until melted.
- Stir in the sugar while warm until it is no longer grainy.
- Pour over cake and resist eating it all to yourself !