For any of us with people who first came on to American soil through Ellis Island or Castle Garden, then we had people who lived through the Great Depression. We heard old stories of great privation, hand-me-down clothes, and shortages of everything. Resourceful home cooks stretched protein foods with bread, potatoes, and gravy to make sure everyone had something on their plate.

But special treats for birthdays and holidays brought out the real creativity in those Moms and Aunties and Grannys—shortages be damned. Eggs and dairy products were scarce and often reserved for little ones, the sick and the elderly. “Make do” was the order of the day—and there was a cake that needed baking.

So along came one of the best tasting chocolate cakes ever—with no eggs, no butter, no milk! The original recipe uses an 8” square pan—the cake was traditionally cut into 2” squares. I’m going to guess some of those resourceful bakers used a larger pan, had a flatter cake—and cut a good many more 2” squares. It was often not frosted—but go ahead.

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup water

1. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, vinegar, oil and water. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and no lumps remain.
3. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 square pan.
4. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Let cake cool completely before frosting.

The Kitchen Hive

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