Monday, February 1, 2016


Here are a few things that were almost impossible to find (or afford) during the Great Depression:  butter, eggs and milk. You know what you could find?  A great chocolate cake.  You just couldn't have a cold glass of milk with it. 

While I'm pretty certain that the 1940s baker who served the cake was proud as punch at how delicious it was, I'm equally certain that  none of them  were bragging that the scrumptious and moist cake was vegan.  But it was and it still is.

A few modern twists make this cake as good as any chocolate cake around:  high quality cocoa powder and coffee.  And while the traditional method is to prepare the cake batter in a 9" x 13" baking dish conveniently leaves you with only the one dirty dish,  you can make the batter and divide it evenly among two 9" cake rounds to build a more traditional cake.  Either way, I guarantee that vegans and non-vegans alike will fall in love with this cake.  

(makes one 9" x 13" cake)

You'll notice that there's vinegar and a good deal of baking soda in the ingredients list.  First, the baking soda requires an acid to work and the vinegar provides the active ingredient for this.  Secondly, without an egg, you need a super boost of leavening and the baking soda/vinegar combo provides this as well.  Depression era baker's discovered this trick all on their own and it's a technique that has become a staple in vegan baking.  

2 cups King Arthur Flour cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (make sure it's vegan)
1/2 cup high quality, Dutched cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry's Extra Brute)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cold coffee
1 cup cold water
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

•Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

•Sift the cake flour into a 9" x 13" baking pan.  Add the sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Whisk the dry ingredients together for at least 30 seconds to distribute the ingredients.

•Make 3 small wells in the dry ingredients.  Add the vanilla in one, the vinegar in another and the oil in the third.  Pour the cold coffee and water over everything and immediately whisk the batter until well combined.  Be quick about it as the soda is activated once it touches the vinegar.

•Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently poked.