Wacky cake is one of the more delightful discoveries of this fall’s cake baking efforts. I had long seen it in one of my favorite cookbooks (one of the vegetarian cookbooks by Jeanne Lemlin). I always glanced at it, with mild curiosity, but never before managed to take it on as a project.
For some reason, I finally decided to try it. I was instantly taken by the whole process, as well as the end product. Wacky cake is so called for a few reasons. It uses no eggs, making it an atypical cake, I suppose. For a household like ours, which at times goes through eggs like there’s no tomorrow, a cake that you can make with no eggs is a good thing to have as part of you dessert repertoire. Wacky cake is also wacky because of the way it is made – and this is the really cool part: you mix it in the pan you are going to bake it in (and also subsequently eat it out of). A simple 8 by 8 glass Pyrex dish. You put all the dry ingredients in (and again, here is a cool part – the ingredients are ones I pretty much always have on hand – sugar, flour, cocoa, etc), mix them thoroughly – but gently, and then pour the wet ingredients on (again, stock stuff – water, vinegar, oil), mix again, and bake.
Very simple, honest.
The only thing is, you do need to start in advance enough for the cake to cool sufficiently so that you can then frost it and, again, leave time for the frosting to set up a bit. If you start too late, the cake will be lovely and warm when your dinner is done, but you won’t have been able to frost it, and, who wants to eat cake without frosting?
You leave the wacky cake in its 8 by 8 pan, cut pieces out, and serve them up with glasses of nice cold milk. Alden and Samantha love wacky cake.
For me, the thing about wacky cake is not its wackiness, but its texture. In a world in which dry, crumbly, not very nice chocolate cakes abound, wacky cake is remarkably moist and lovely. It is oddly light and rich at the same time (ill-making if you overindulge, in spite of its apparent lightness). It is nothing like a good brownie which, while moist, is also dense and chewy. Nor is it like cake, often crumbly and even if done well, probably verging on dry. In the end, it's the texture that is the magical thing about it.