Depression Cake – No, I’m not sad. Just broke.

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I was home alone the other night, which means one of two things can happen. One, I could go to bed at 7pm having eaten a piece of bread and butter and nothing else. Two, I could stay up late watching cooking programs, drinking wine, making outrageous concoctions using leftovers and then decide to bake a cake. The first option wouldn’t make a very good blog post though, would it?

So there I am, 10pm, having gorged on two mini (but actually massive) panini – one made with leftover pork shoulder fried with Chinese five spice and piled high with home made veg-tastic coleslaw (blog post in progress); the other with tomatoes, basil and mascarpone (healthy, right?). I was flicking through Pinterest when I happened upon this pin claiming you can make a cake with no eggs, no butter and no bowls. Scoffing, I clicked through and read the story of a child with an egg allergy who had never tasted cake – tragic. The child’s mother made this cake and watched, choking back tears of joy, as her child took her first ever bite of cake. What a sweet moment that must have been.

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I literally chucked all the dry ingredients into a greased pyrex dish (the size below 13×9″), mixed, made the wells like the recipe instructs, mixed in the wet ingredients, threw it in the oven, took it out 20 minutes later. Done.

I kid you not, this is the moistest cake I have ever made without using a mix from a box. It also looked great. It wasn’t the most chocolatey tasting cake I ever had, but that could easily be remedied with melted chocolate or chocolate icing – plus it’s Depression cake, it’s not supposed to be decadent! I do think it needs some sort of frosting or topping to accent it’s moist, delicate crumb, but I didn’t want to resort to buttercream because surely that would be at odds with the whole point of this cake. I had about two tablespoons of mascarpone in the fridge, so I mixed that with some plain yogurt and added cinnamon sugar (cinnamon and chocolate? You bet your boots!). This slightly tart, sweet and cinnamon-y topping was perfect. Plus, no eggs or butter and yogurt in the frosting? I think that counts as a diet-friendly slice of cake!

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I took the cake to work and it was met with “Mmm”s, “Ahhs” and general disbelief that it contained no eggs or butter, yet was so delicious and moist. This will be my go-to cake recipe from now on, not only because it’s cheap and easy to make, but because the result on the plate heavily outweighs any supposed ‘effort’ you put into it. The mascarpone yogurt frosting, too, will be sitting high on the ideas pile for a while. I think it would work equally well with cream cheese and obviously you could thin it with most substantial dairy-based items: cream, half and half, whole milk, sour cream, crème fraîche. Go nuts.

Bon appetit!

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Recipe reproduced from Sweet Little Blue Bird

1 1/2 cup White Flour

1 cup White Sugar

3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp White Vinegar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

5 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 cup Water

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. Mix dry ingredients in a greased 8″ square (or medium size pyrex dish) baking pan. Use a 13×9″ pan if you want to double the recipe.

3. Make three wells in dry ingredients – two small, one larger.

4. Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in the other and the vegetable oil in third larger well.

5. Pour water over everything. Mix well until smooth.

6. Bake on middle rack of oven for 35 minutes (mine only took 20, so check it earlier). Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.

7. Cool and top with your favorite frosting.

6 thoughts on “Depression Cake – No, I’m not sad. Just broke.

  1. Robert Hamilton says:

    I think we ate something similar in elementary school – it was called Wacky Cake…Tina probably remembers it too. Very good – it often had a powdered sugar topping.

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