Crazy Chocolate Cake

2017 has been a busy one so far. Despite the fact that yesterday was spent curled up on the couch, listening to the wind outside and reading my book for the better part of the day, we’ve been busier than usual in our neck of the woods, with protests, rallies, work events, and a cheeky girls’ trip to Paris already in the bag. This weekend we’re heading to Bath to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early, and then seeing my favourite band in concert in Glasgow on actual Valentine’s Day evening, so I'm gearing up for another week of awesome. With such a busy month, I was stoked to find a recipe that dirtied only one bowl, was totally delicious (and tasted ‘complete’) even without frosting, required no ingredients I didn’t already have in my pantry AND let me try out a new and weird way of making a cake. Basically, this is the perfect thing to make when you’re craving chocolate cake but trying not to go overboard on labour, ingredients, time or dishes (Oh, and it's dairy-free, in case that was one of your goals for 2017!).

Relatedly, every time I pull a recipe out of the recipe box and it has a title with 'crazy' or 'impossible' or 'unbelievable' in it, I am immediately suspicious that the recipe will contain something weird, like mayonnaise or gelatin or courgettes or Oleo. But this one contains only totally normal ingredients!* It's definitely the weirdest technique I've used to make a cake in recent memory, but it's easy and leaves you with only one dirty bowl, and it's so delicious I'm already thinking up excuses for making another one.

*Recipe does include vinegar, but if you haven't made a chocolate cake with vinegar before, fear not. It seemed so weird to me the first time I made one several years ago (for Judson's 30th birthday) that I phoned my grandmother when I got to that step of the recipe to ask if that seemed normal to her. She assured me that it was, I proceeded, and I quickly learned that the best chocolate cake recipes always contain a spoonful or so of vinegar. The flavour obviously evaporates completely but the texture it leaves behind is moist, light and fluffy- a total win!

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. Interestingly, Judson, who hates frosting, gave this a three, and I, who literally can't be trusted in front of a bowl of frosting and a spoon, give it a four. I swore I wouldn't do ½ spoons when I started the Recipe Box Project, and it's my blog, so we're going with four spoons. Even Judson acknowledges that 'people who like cake would give it a four or five.'

one year ago: Broccoli So Nice, We Cooked It Twice

the recipe:

Crazy Cake

the directions:

Preheat oven to 175C/350F and grease a 9x9-inch square pan.
Sift flour, then set aside.
Sift cocoa into a separate bowl, then sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar and salt together, directly into the greased pan.
Mixture will likely have a hill in the middle, but try to sift as evenly as possible.
Make three grooves in the dry ingredients with your finger or the handle of a piece of cutlery.
Pour oil into first groove, pour vinegar into second groove and pour vanilla into third groove but DO NOT STIR YET.
Pour cold water over entire mixture, then beat with a spoon until nearly smooth and no visible flour remains (try not to scrape the bottom or sides of the pan too much as you do this).
Bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out only slightly sticky.
Once cool, sift powdered sugar or coarse sanding sugar over the cake and serve warm.

the ingredients:

1 ½ c flour, sifted
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 c sugar
½ tsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c cold water
Optional: powdered sugar or sanding sugar