1½ C all-purpose flour
¾ C sugar
¼ C cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp table salt
5Tbls vegetable oil
1Tbls distilled white vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in pan. As shown in photo 1, make 1 large and 2 small craters in dry ingredients. Add oil to large crater and vinegar and vanilla separately to remaining small craters. Pour water into pan (photo 2 below), and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain (photo 3 below). Immediately put pan in oven.
3. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. (If tightly wrapped, cake will keep for 3 days at room temperature.)
While the name seems to imply comical roots, 'wacky' cake was actually born out of the seriousness of wartime rationing. At various times during the world wars, eggs, butter, sugar, and milk were all in short supply, so inventive home cooks did their best to create dishes with limited ingredients. Wacky cake is a moist chocolate cake prepared without eggs, milk or butter, that relies on the last-minute combination of vinegar and baking soda for leavening. With no eggs, butter or milk, Wacky Cake is an alternative suitable for at risk populations, individuals who are lactose intolerant, and strict vegans.