Monday, December 17, 2007

Wacky Cakes and Crazy Ladies

While certain neighborhoods retain (and deserve) their reputation as somewhat less than pleasant, large chunks of Brooklyn have become safer than four out of five Disney World Lands. (Land of Tomorrow harboring dangerous criminals, of course.) Still, no matter where you live in the borough, sometimes you have to be on your guard. Sometimes at the supermarket.

The Boyfriend and I decided to bake 14 billion Christmas cookies this weekend, for use as gifts, potluck submissions, and building material. In order to accomplish this, we needed butter. Many, many pounds of butter. So, off to Key Food we sojourned, where we were greeted by The Loon, self-appointed Keeper of the Dairy Section.

Though she bore no indicative Key Food employee nametag, we first encountered The Loon applying random prices on boxes of Coffeemate. She turned her attention to us when I, knowing it would be half-price at checkout, procured only one of the Buy One Get One Free boxes of unsalted Hotel Bar quarters.

I was a good eight paces away when I heard “Miss, miss! You forgot your free butter!” I turned, thinking a kind worker was trying to save me a buck. The Loon took this opportunity to grab my arm and guide me back to butter section, where we proceeded to argue over the pricing process of major supermarkets. It went something like this:

ME: Ma’am, thank you, but I’m okay.
THE LOON: No honey, you ain’t. Take this. Put it in your freezer. Don’t you want your free butter?
ME: No, I’m okay. Thanks.
THE LOON (pushes butter in my hand): No, here take it. You want it.
ME: Thanks, no. They go on sale for this price about every three weeks. I have two at home. They’re on sale for the same cost at Pathmark.
THE LOON: No they ain’t.
ME: Yes they are.
THE LOON: No they ain’t.
ME: Yes they are.
THE LOON: No they ain’t.
ME: Yes they … I gotta go.
THE LOON: Okay, lady. Whatever. (Puts butter back angrily.)
ME (ideally): Crazypants, I’ve written all about this particular subject for the last seven months. I keep a price book and shop here every week. You, on the other hand, are killing time hugging milk cartons and putting price stickers on your hat. Thanks, but you’re wrong and I’m good.
ME (actually): Thanks, though. (Scuttles away)

In retrospect, I’m glad the butter wasn’t shoved in my eye socket. And I’m super-glad that when The Boyfriend and I checked out, The Loon was being yelled at by a group of managers for unlawful use of a price gun.

This recipe, then, is dedicated to her. It’s Wacky Cake, a delightful vegan chocolate confection with no eggs, no milk, and most importantly, no butter. It was suggested by commenter Sally, and comes from the extraordinarily nifty Where’s the Revolution Blog. (If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, carnivore, or harbor an unnatural obsession with tempeh, head on over.) The batter took about five minutes to come together, and cost a quarter to $0.50 less than most store-bought mixes. Top it off with powdered sugar and serve it for your favorite lunatic today!

Wacky Cake
12 delicious slices
Adapted from Where's the Revolution?

1-1/2 cups minus 1 TB unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup icy cold water
powdered sugar for garnish, optional

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8-inch square pan or a 9-inch pie pan.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Then, make three wells or indentations in that mixture. Pour vanilla into the first, vinegar into the second, and oil into the third. Douse everything with cold water and stir until all ingredients are just barely combined/moist.

3) Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes, "or until it springs back when touched lightly."

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price Per Serving
178 calories, 6.6 g fat, $0.09

1 1/2 cups minus 1 TB unbleached all-purpose flour: 654 calories, 1.8 g fat, $0.08
1 cup sugar: 774 calories, 0 g fat, $0.33
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa: 49 calories, 3 g fat, $0.32
1 teaspoon baking soda: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1/2 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1 teaspoon vanilla: 12 calories, 0 g fat, $0.13
1 tablespoon white vinegar: 3 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
1/3 cup canola oil: 640 calories, 74,7 g fat, $0.20
1 cup icy cold water: negligible calories and fat, $0.00
powdered sugar for garnish, optional
TOTAL: 2132 calories, 79.5 g fat, $1.12
PER SERVING (TOTAL/12): 178 calories, 6.6 g fat, $0.09

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MCM Voices said...

What a funny story - I'm sure it was an unnerving experience but honey - I gotta say I'm not sure I've ever bought one box of butter in my life. If I'm down to only 5 boxes in my freezer I feel like I'm on the verge of catastrophe. The cake sounds yummy (but I'll probably substitute butter for the oil and call it Sane Cake :) ). MCM

kavavita said...

my grandma called that recipe (I've made it for years) Depression Cake, because they made it when they couldn't afford eggs and butter.

JJ said...

I'm glad I found your website. I cooked my family your Light Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry and it was wonderful. Tomorrow's my birthday and I'm making this for birthday cake.

Kris said...

MCM - I like sane cake too. :)

Kavavita - I had no idea! Thanks for the info.

JJ - Sweet! I hope you dig it. It's really good.

bazu said...

this post cracked me up! I can completely empathize with the wacko situations.

thanks also for acknowledging my raging tempeh addiction! ;-)

Ruby said...

I've been making that cake for years - my gran had it in a cookbook named "The I Hate To Cook Book", and I think it was called Cockeyed Cake!

Nanis said...

I learned to make this in 8th grade, way back in the 60's, and it was called Crazy Cake or Wacky Cake. I had lost the recipe, so I am so glad I found this!