This cake from writer, artist and cookbook author Jessica Reed riffs on one known variously as Depression Cake, Crazy Cake and Wacky Cake. The recipes, and their histories, differ save for all resulting in a baked good that is easy and economical to make. Requiring no eggs, milk or butter, the batter comes together — by hand — in less than 10 minutes and is out of the oven in less than 30. Perfect for crisis baking.
The finished cake is deeply hued and bittersweet due to a higher-than-usual amount of cocoa, an ingredient of love and happiness — something every single one of us could use more of. There’s also a teaspoon of cinnamon for healing and a cup of brewed coffee for that extra jolt of energy, both literal and figurative, we need to get through this. Chocolate not your thing? I’ve included a vanilla interpretation at the end.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square pan with butter or cooking spray, then line with a sheet of parchment paper approximately 8 inches by 12 inches so that you have at least a 2-inch overhang on two of the sides to create a sling.
In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and coffee.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 26 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached and the sides of the cake start pulling away from the pan.
Remove the pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan using the sling and let it cool completely on the rack.
Slather with frosting, dollop with whipped cream, dust with powdered sugar or eat plain.
• No cocoa powder; increase the all-purpose flour to 2 cups (250 grams)
• No cinnamon; increase vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon.
• No coffee; use 1 cup (240 ml) water.
• Bake for 33–35 minutes.
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