Wacky Cake

I was fortunate enough to have met many of my great-aunties, great-uncles, and three great-grandparents, some of whom lived well into my teen and young adult years. I think aunties and uncles have to be about the most fun relatives one can have- besides cousins of course- but if they are great-aunties and uncles, even better. One year my grandparents jumped in my great-uncle Cal’s RV along with a few other great-aunties and uncles and drove across country from Texas to New Jersey where my family- Ma, Dad, my brother Rob and I had lived. We called this little group of elders the Bengay Bunch or the Geritol Gang.

They were such a fun group, always joking and teasing. One particular morning on this visit, we stood at the back door of our beach house admiring all of the seagulls when my great-auntie Opal said, “My that gull has a big beak,” to which great-auntie Jean said, “that’s not a gull, that’s Kern.” My great-uncle Kern did have quite the schnoz. Sadly all my Greats are gone now but have left me with fond memories along with The Klaus Family Cookbook put together by my great-auntie Opal who was a very creative and artistic lady.

Last week we went to our friends’ home for dinner and I needed a quick dessert. I was feeling lazy, hot, tired, and did not need a big mess either. I found great-auntie Opal’s cake from the Klaus Cookbook to be perfect. It even asked if I was lazy. Yes, always.

This is a Wacky Cake made in a wacky fashion but it is deliciously moist and super simple.

Wacky Cake
In a 9×13 inch baking dish, whisk together:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 rounded T. cocoa
1 cup sugar- I used brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda

Make three wells in the dry ingredients. In one well add 1 T. vinegar, I used balsamic. To the second well add 5 T. melted shortening, I used butter. To the third well add 1 T. Vanilla. The recipe calls for 1 tsp vanilla but I like lots of vanilla.

Pour 1 C. of cold water, I used milk, over the entire dish and stir until well mixed. Bake in same dish in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. The original recipe states 30 minutes but mine was done in under 20. Cool cake a bit and glaze with:

Chocolate Espresso Glaze– my addition
3 T. melted butter
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. powdered instant espresso

Stir chips and espresso powder into the melted butter until smooth. Pour over cake and spread evenly. Serves about 10.
Note- The cake itself is not overly sweet and has that wonderful homemade from scratch flavor. The glaze then makes it perfectly sweet and scrumptious.

This recipe was published by the B.P.W. Club of Kaw City, Oklahoma, and sold for ten cents to help girls attend Girl’s State and the recipe was accompanied by the above poem.


  1. hepkittenink@gmail.com
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    This recipe looks great – can't wait to try it. You're lucky to have had such a creative and colorful Auntie. Lovely blog too, by the way. 🙂

  2. pigpigscorner
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    I've never met my greats, but I come from a really huge family with lots of close relatives…it's always nice to hang out with them. This cake looks extremely fudgy and moist!

  3. Dolce
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    That's a nice one! Just one question: why the addition of vinegar?

  4. Sabrina
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    That looks tasty. This might be a project for my kids that I get to enjoy. Thanks for sharing your family recipes. You have a wonderfully close knit bunch and tons of fun too.

  5. That Girl
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    this cake recipe is hysterical!

  6. Robin Sue
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    Dolce- My most schientific guess I can make about the vinegar is that it further activates the baking soad in the dry ingredients. It will give off gas in the cake making bigger "holes" for a bigger crumb. Many of my ole timey cake recipes call for vinegar- it must have been a popular ingredient. Thanks for the visit!

  7. Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    I love old recipes like that..makes it so much more fun to make. This is a great one. 🙂

  8. MJS
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    We love this recipe (and yes, the vinegar activates the leavening so the cake is lighter). This is a great cake because it is dairy free and vegan so you can serve it to people w/dietary restrictions. I once read that it is a depression era recipe because it doesn't include any eggs so was cheap to make. May not be true but it make sense! Cheers!

  9. Patsyk
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

    What a fun recipe! You are so lucky to have such fond memories of so many relatives! I hope my boys are able to say the same one day.

  10. Natalie
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    love how simple this is! i need more "quick and easy desserts"! thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Grace
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    neato! what an interesting recipe, and i must say that your glaze sounds spectacular. thanks for sharing those memories. 🙂

  12. Baker's Cakes
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    We love this cake too! As I understand during the war era there was a shortage of eggs and butter and this recipe requires neither (a great modern vegan recipe)! Our family recipe is called "crazy cake!" The vinegar and the baking soda react to produce the leavening agent in place of eggs 🙂

  13. oneordinaryday
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    How wonderful that you have old family recipes. Thanks for sharing your memories….and the cake!

  14. unconfidentialcook
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

    How much fun!!! And, it looks really moist and delicious, especially with your frosting. I might try one more well: chocolate chips.

  15. noble pig
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    Okay that was adorable and it looks so good with the espresso glaze! I'd pay a $1 a square.

  16. Anne
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    This is a great recipe for food-allergic folks, as it has no dairy or egg and can be made with pretty much any kind of flour successfully. I've made it many times and it's turned out perfectly each time! This will be my son's first birthday cake!

  17. Dolce
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Robin for the vinegar trick 🙂

  18. KJ
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Lazy?! Yes!

    I will HAVE to try this cake…looks simple and yummy!


  19. Anonymous
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

    I know this cake is delicious because I have the same recipe but my recipe calls for the German Chocolate frosting. The coconut, nuts, butter, sugar and milk cooked together and poured on top. It really is quick and our family loves it too.

  20. Martha
    Posted September 12, 2009 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    We love Wacky Cake! I first heard of it when I was a preschool teacher and a Dad came in and made it with the kids. It was perfect for the preschool setting because it's so easy to make, and it doesn't include eggs, which some kids are allergic to. Thanks for the reminder about this great cake.

  21. cheryl
    Posted September 12, 2009 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

    Our family also calls this a Crazy Cake and the recipe I have makes a 9 x 13 sheet cake. I just use a chocolate powdered sugar glaze, but your espresso one sounds divine. I'll try it next time. I just made one of these cakes this past week. Love reading your blog!

  22. Maria
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    Who cares if it is wacky, it looks so delicious:)

  23. Finsmom
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

    This looks so moist and delicious! Love the name!

  24. Anonymous
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    I remember my Mom making this cake when I was a teenager.

  25. Ingrid
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

    You know, I don't care for chocolate desserts but that looks seriously good. I think its how the chocolate glaze soaks intot the cake making it so oeey gooey good.

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