Vegan Wacky Cake (Or. . . Chocolate Get-Me-through-The-Holidays Cake!)

I've decided that December is going to be Happy Foods Month--only posting about foods that truly make me happy. Chocolate is the first order of business. Oh, and there will be cookies, don't worry.

We've had this cake on the counter now for three nights. We have a little ritual called, Eight o'clock Happy Time whereby the last food of the day consists of something that makes us both very happy. Some nights it's a small bowl of vegan ice cream. Dr. Thyme preferring a mint/chocolate combo and for me cherry/vanilla or chocoate, just depends. (This "routine" perhaps has lead to a more blissful marriage. Just a theory.)

This cake is a chocolate lover's delight and it's so easy to make, you'll laugh when you see the recipe. It makes a small cake. Eight inch square or round pan. And frosting it is completely optional. Though why would you NOT? All told from mixing to table takes about an hour. You mix, bake, cool, eat. Super moist! No layers to mess with. Very easy clean-up. 

The Wacky Cake was vegan before vegan even knew it was vegan. No eggs. No dairy. No problem. And even betterer, no bowls! (Well, one bowl for sifting together the dry stuff.) It also goes by the name Crazy Mixed-up Cake and Three-Hole Cake. Legend has it that the recipe first appeared in a collection of recipes put out by Time Magazine in 1949. (Thank you America's Test Kitchen for that bit of trivia.) So it's a vintage cake. You know how I love vintage. As is usual, I found that if I increased the chocolate a wee bit, i.e., adding more cocoa to the mix and some chocolate chips to the batter--the cake is made even more chocolate-y!

Yesterday I made the mistake of thinking I was ready for Christmas. Meh. I have absolutely zero decorations up. And, as of right now, I have no plans for sending cards this year. I have a trip planned for mid-December and that's about all I'm looking forward to right now. Spending time with my sister. Well and there's this "other" family moment consisting of my seeing my step father for the first time in nearly sixteen years. But we'll save that telling for later (and perhaps a therapy session).   

So I ran a few errands and ended up in Home Depot to pick up some bird food. This was the conversation going on in my head:

If you just walk amongst the holiday displays, it may put you in the Christmas spirit.
What can it hurt? 
Look at the Martha Stewart Ornaments. Pretty!
Imagine the house in Martha Stewart holiday design--better yet, what if I could get Martha Stewart to come to my house and decorate. . . !
 Traipse through the fake trees and inflatable yard decorations and all that pine-scented candle stuff! Go ahead, grab that white spray-painted group of sticks for $7.98 and bring them home, you KNOW that'll make the house feel all Christmas-y! Just. Do. It.

And then I turned around with my pathetic cart filled with food for those less fortunate (our birds) and stood in line with the woman checker who I typically chat up with in the springtime during my many manic "planting-fever" trips. She and I were the only people at the garden end of the store--where all the ginormous holiday stuff resides. We were surrounded by it. I thought, My god, if there were some cataclysmic event and the store should collapse on us--we'd be buried under trees, blow-up Santa's and wreaths. . . it'd be a cruel North Pole shocker.
She looked in the cart and said, Feeding the birds? I said, Yep. Then added, I'm just not "feeling" it this year. She looked at me and said, Me either. We could have started our own support group by the time I left. Our own twelve-step:
Christmas Disliker's Anonymous.
We had both had it. 

Whatever it is about December, it hasn't yet crept into my soul. I try. Today may require a trip to a little Christmas antique store that I love. If not today, then soon. And truthfully, if the feeling never arrives, I know that life will go on and that come December 26th, this will all feel like a really bad dream and the next order of business will be to plan for my vegetable garden and more knitting and sewing. Life does go on.

Vegan Wacky Cake 
makes one 8" cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Florida Crystals Sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider will work)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray your 8" square or round cake pan. In a medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Carefully pour the dry ingredients into the cake pan and level off with a spatula. Now, make three holes in the flour mixture. In one hole, add the vinegar, in another add the vanilla extract and for the third hole, add the oil. Finally, pour the cup of water over all of this. Carefully stir everything together with a fork. Don't over mix! Just get into the corners and make sure the dry flour is incorporated into the batter. A few dry clumps are perfectly fine. Add the chocolate chips and stir in with a spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow cake to cool in pan. Frost with vegan buttercream frosting! Store in an airtight container at room temperture.



  1. Hi Kelly, I love the 8:00 Happy Time idea. We love that cake, it's a favorite around here(cause its so easy lol). We call it Depression Cake(definitely not a happy title) because housewives would make this cake during the Depression because they didn't have access to dairy or eggs.
    Can't wait to see what kind of cookies your going to bake!

  2. Hi VHM! Thanks!
    Yep, that cake is a keeper--I read about the back story to the cake and thought the Depression Cake would have tipped the scales a bit given the "season" and all. (Ha-Ha!)
    I have made this a ton of times, forgetting the less-is-more philosophy, but it applies here for sure and surprises me every time. Don't know the cookie list yet! Here's to "hoping" for good cookie vibes this month! Have a great day!

  3. More Chocolate is ALWAYS a good thing! You've put me in a happy mood with this cake! I'm thinking with a little peppermint in the frosting, this cake could even put me in a holiday mood. :)

  4. Jeanne! Yum and THAT is brilliant!. . . please ship to me in an airtight holiday tin, my baking friend!

  5. I'm glad you wrote this post, because you've really summed up how I feel about Christmas this year. I'm usually SO into it- the music, the decorations, the lights... but this year, not so much.

  6. Chocolate certainly makes me happy, and the name of this cake is already making me smile. Thank you for sharing with me. I hope you have a relaxing Sunday!

  7. The cake looks great, with a strong brew of coffee and ALL set.
    I am so SORRY about the recent past. I couldn't even read the posts as too sad.......we have an infirmary here right now with 2 kids being ill and it is trying.......
    love the cake!


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