During the Great Depression, families didn’t have enough resources to buy all the ingredients they need. While some of the families were lucky enough to live on a farm where they had access to milk, butter, and eggs, many of them were not. So, housewives and mothers had to find a way to prepare meals for their families, especially if they wanted to prepare a dessert at the end of the meal.
With time, they learned how to be creative and use cheaper ingredients to substitute more expensive ones. On the other hand, sugar and flour were available, so they were a fast and cheap way to gain the calories needed with little effort and money. This way, Crazy Cake was born. This recipe’s ingredients were cheaper but still had the similar effect of more expensive ones.
How the ingredient substitution works in Crazy Cake
Chef Michael Zebrowski explains how certain ingredients that are used to substitute the essential ones in this recipe work. He says that butter keeps cake soft and tender and prevents a tough gluten matrix to develop. In the recipe Crazy Cake, people use vegetable oil instead of butter because it provides similar results. Instead of eggs, we use baking soda and vinegar mixed together. This combination makes the cake fluffy and light because it foams up quickly. Milk is replaced with water for moisture, and coffee is an alternative. There was actually a lot of coffee available during the Great Depression, so most probably it was often used as a substitute.
A Baking Revival
At the beginning of the last year, most of the countries in the world were locked down due to COVID-19. So, baking became a very practical and inevitable solution for stress and economic uncertainty. The flow of some products was interrupted. Some ingredients were in short supply, and citizens were in a panic due to lost jobs, and the shocking reality that has become our new normal way of life. Not knowing what to expect, many have turned to the past looking for ideas on how to survive.
As the weather was turning colder, people started to turn back to baking as a way to relieve stress and make themselves feel more comfortable. So, many discovered the old Crazy Cake recipe and used it as a great option for an easy, chill-out afternoon time while having fun making a cake with the kids.
Crazy Cake Recipe
Ingredients you need:
- One and a half cups of flour
- Three tablespoons of cocoa (unsweetened)
- One cup of sugar
- One tablespoon of baking soda
- Half a tablespoon of salt
- One tablespoon of white vinegar
- One tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- One cup of water
How to prepare:
Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda in a baking pan. Press the dry mixture in three places, making three depressions – one big, two small. Pour vegetable oil in the largest depression. In the other two, pour vanilla in the one, and vinegar in the other. Pour water, or coffee over the mixture and mix it until it becomes smooth. Bake for around 35 minutes in a preheated oven to 350 degrees F.
Let it cool down and top with a frosting according to your choices, such as ice cream, or cream to make it more delicious.