Call it crazy cake or depression cake or poor man’s cake or whatever you want. This recipe has been around for 100 years and comes in and out of fashion. I remember my mother making it many times when I was growing up. You will find all sorts of variations if you search the web. My version of crazy mocha almond cake comes from an old community cookbook I’ve had for several years. It’s topped with a vegan ganache from Minimalist Baker. It’s this year’s offering for Vegan Baking Day.
For the last two years Vegan Baking Day fell on the last Friday in September. Now it has a fixed date of October 1. It’s a day for trying your hand at new baking techniques and sharing the variety of tasty baked goods that can be made without eggs or dairy products. Read more about it here and here.
One advantage of this cake is that it’s mixed and served from the same baking dish. First you mix all the dry ingredients together, then make three wells. Oil, vanilla and vinegar go into separate wells and then water is pour over top to make the batter. The vinegar and baking soda react to help the cake to rise.
You’ll come across recipes that use a mixer and transfer the batter, but the purists will insist that’s not a crazy cake. (There’s a long standing rule of no judging in Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen. If you want to use a mixer go right ahead. How else are you going to make crazy vegan cupcakes?)
This recipe is for an 8 x 8 inch square pan or a 9 inch round pan. I get 9 decently sized pieces from the square pan, which is almost too much for Rick and I, but perfect for a small family. The cake will stay moist for a couple days if covered properly.
There’s no hard and fast rule about frosting for crazy cake. My mother used to dust it with powdered sugar. Once in awhile she’d make a buttercream frosting. Most often we’d have it plain with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think we liked that best. I’ve chosen to make a vegan ganache for Vegan Baking Day. Dark chocolate trumps ice cream sometimes.
- 1½ cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa (check the label to make sure it's pure with no sugar added)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (or 1 teaspoon espresso powder; adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
- 1 cup water
- 100 grams dark chocolate, grated or cut into small pieces (I bought a bar of 85% cacao at the grocery)
- ¼ cup plain almond milk
- ¼ cup vegan spread, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- a handful of sliced almonds for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in the 8 x 8" pan. Make three wells and add the oil, vanilla and vinegar. Pour the water over top.
- Stir well to make a batter. Use a spatula to help mix the dry ingredients along the sides and bottom.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. The center may collapse a bit, but a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool completely before adding the ganache.
- Melt the vegan spread and chocolate together in a small mixing bowl. (I put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to do this).
- Beat the sugar into the melted chocolate, adding the almond milk as needed to smooth it out. You can do it by hand, but it's easier to use a mixer. The ganache should be thick and spreadable, but not runny. Add more powdered sugar a little at a time if needed.
- Spread on top of the cake and distribute the almonds over top.
Have you had or made a crazy cake before? Have you tried vegan baking?
You may want to try this Vegan Pumpkin Loaf, too.