Friday, April 20, 2012

Flat-Broke Food: Whacky Cake!

I hope you've been enjoying this week of frugal food. Many of these recipes are from our cultural past -- it may confuse us sometimes, but Americans have been very fortunate to be able to choose from so many cultures for our food and pastimes. How could our country have gotten so far, without all these different contributions to the cultural pot? The answer is -- we couldn't.

The last in this particular batch is a cake that grew out of shortages, particularly WWII and the Depression. Eggs were not always obtainable, unless you lived on a farm; milk could also be scarce. And much of the country's snacks, including chocolate, went to the troops.
    Enter a moist, chocolaty cake that undoubtedly emerged out of desperation from some housewife's creative mind. It takes less than ten minutes to stir up -- and it can be mixed right in the pan. (She must have been busy.) Either her pantry was empty, or she was just 'out:' this cake uses no eggs -- milk -- butter -- chocolate chips. And it's low in fat. (Take note -- great for vegans, those watching their weight, or people with allergies.) 
     The magic ingredients: cocoa -- and vinegar!

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons oil (1/4 cup, plus one tablespoon -- I use olive oil)
1 cup water

Set your oven to 350 degrees. Pour the dry ingredients into a 8" square or round pan -- mix, and shape three wells in the dry stuff. (You can also mix in a bowl.) Pour the liquid ingredients in, water last, and quickly mix. Bake for 30 min., or until a toothpick is dry when inserted in the center.
    This recipe can be easily doubled for a 9x 13 pan or bundt/angel food cake pan; it may take up to 45 min. to bake.

This cake is tasty served as-is, or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Or, for you spendthrifts out there who can afford butter and cream (!!!), add an easy frosting. It's very similar to that used for German chocolate cake.

1/3 cup softened butter or margaine
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup coconut

Mix butter, sugar and cream together; add nuts and coconut. Frost your cake while it's still warm. Watch your guests gobble it down...and smile to yourself.

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