Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wacky Cake: Baking as a Magic Show

Wacky Cake is the culinary equivalent of a magic trick.  Improbable, unusual and impressive -- and it shakes up your belief in reality:  How in the heck can it possibly work?  It defies all baking logic and especially that troubling belief  that "baking is a science."

This is a cake that anyone cake make and is especially fun to make with children.  The dry ingredients are placed in the baking pan and then three holes are "dug"  -- one for vinegar, one for melted butter, and one for vanilla.  Everything is then mixed in the baking pan -- you needn't dirty even one bowl!

I found this recipe in Olive Facey's collection. I suspect Wacky Cake was invented in 1954 when a mad scientist, a fourth grader and Peg Bracken (author of the I Hate to Cook Book) were locked in a kitchen together -- it's that wacky.  And it's really pretty good, chocolate-y with a moist crumb.  Who knew? Magic is a wonderful thing sometimes.


Sift the dry ingredients together (above) then place in an 8 inch square baking pan, and create three holes.


Pour melted butter, vinegar and vanilla in each of the holes.


Pour water over the baking pan, mix together and pop in the oven.




15 comments:

  1. This seems so insanely easy it could be dangerous. I may end up eating chocolate cake more frequently than I should!

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    1. That's the kind of danger I like, Tugs Girl!!

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  2. Thanks, Susan! I am going to make this with my 12 year old "little". This will hold her attention long enough to complete. Will let you know how it turns out.

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  3. Hey Susan... as soon as I saw this the other day,I shared it on FB,especially with my honey in mind... we're attempting it now.. I'll follow up and let you know how our experiment turns out !

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    1. Thanks, Greg and Leigh -- Hope it's a big success! Thanks for writing.

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    2. Good Morning Susan,
      We tried this yesterday[I read the notes aloud] and she did the work... not bad.... her comment to me was'this reminds me of my easy-bake oven' LOL she also thought her mom may have done something like this too. Mama was a chemistry teacher and apparently experimented[?] in the kitchen too !
      Thanx for sharing !

      Greg

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    3. Glad it worked out, Greg and Leigh. Love the Easy-Bake Oven reference!

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  4. Hi Susan, I've been making a variation of this for years. We call it Cowboy cake. I got the recipe from an old catalog that explained that cooks "on the range" had to bake without eggs, milk or butter. So my recipe uses oil and instead of water, we pour coffee over it all. And I add a cup of dark chocolate chips. Then cinnamon/sugar is sprinkled all over the top. Everyone loves it! Complete recipe is on my blog. Clare -

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    1. Nana Clare -- Your modifications of that recipe sound great -- what's not to love with coffee and chocolate! Thanks so much for writing and I just checked out your blog. It's gorgeous -- beautifully written (so funny!) and the recipes are extremely appealing! I will be back (to your blog, that is!).

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  5. Hi Susan, I just realized the post did something odd with my blog name. If you'd like to visit, I'm at: www.nanaclareskitchen.com
    Thanks, Nana Clare

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    1. Blogger has a way of doing that, sorry. But so glad you wrote again with your full blog title!

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  6. I've been baking this cake for over 60 years and it's never failed. It was the birthday cake of choice for my family. The only failure I know of is when a friend tried the recipe for the first time and forgot to stir in the water. Double the recipe and you have a wonderful sheet cake or a beautiful layer cake.
    BARBARA

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    1. Barbara -- Wow, 60 years! I'm impressed! It's so nice to have such a fail proof (except for that one friend's experience) and fun cake as your family's birthday cake of choice. Thanks so much for writing (and for suggesting the layer cake idea!).

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  7. There are quite a few Wacky Cake variations in the King Arthur Flour cookbook. I think it was a popular recipe, and it's variations, during the war when ingredients were scarce.
    Joy

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