The decision to make this came about rather quickly. Ben wanted me to make something simple for joint birthday celebration. He suggested a simple no frills cake, and I wanted something simple with chocolate. A quick online search showed me recipes that were concocted during the depression era and WWII, times when people’s cupboards were bare with just essential ingredients. People needed to come up with cheap desserts that utilized ingredients that people had on hand in a way that minimized or masked the fact that they didn’t contain more expensive ingredients such as butter, milk, or eggs. Enter Depression Era Desserts. Wartime desserts.
Not to say that we are in wartime or in a depression, but it sure feels that way. Luckily I still have some really good Dutch-process cocoa. I think that is what saved this. That, and the frosting. I think when you take out butter and eggs, cakes really suffer, but having frosting helps add richness. I used a butter substitute that is all vegetable oil. You can probably also use solidified coconut oil. The quality of the cocoa used will be reflected in the final product, but having a sweet frosting helps create the illusion of a rich decadent cake.
wartime chocolate cake
1 and 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
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water (I used half coffee, half water)
1/2 cup margarine or butter alternative
2.5 cups powdered or confectioners sugar
3.5 ounces melted chocolate of choice. I used milk chocolate
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 square pan. Set aside.
In one bowl, stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda together with a whisk several times.
In another bowl, whisk together the vanilla, vinegar, oil, and water (or water/coffee combo) several times to blend somewhat.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes until toothpick test in center comes out clean.
Let cool in pan on a rack completely before frosting.
For frosting, blend the margarine or vegetable spread with the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa until fluffy and spreadable. Pour the melted but cooled chocolate and mix further to blend it into the frosting.