World War II Cake Recipe (vegan)

Since S can’t eat dairy or egg, it can sometimes be a challenge to cook "normal" food for her.  We brought a box of commercially available "egg replacer" to China.  At first I could use this to make vegan cakes.  But our "egg replacer" ran out after a year.  After this, we began to experiment with using alternatives to eggs to make recipes rise.  In the case of cakes, this is a special challenge.  One of S’s friends, C, has a specially wonderful mom who has made cakes for S on special occasions (like, whenever she visits their house!).  After we ran out of egg replacer, I asked C’s mom for her non-dairy, non-egg cake recipe!  Here it is! 
This recipe is the result of ingenuity in the face of food rationing during WWII.  (If you have any family stories or personal stories of wartime rationing, please share it by posting a comment here!)   
"Crosby’s Mother’s WW II Cake"
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons oil (assume an oil with no flavor)
1 Tablespoon vinegar (assume a mild vinegar like white vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 350 fareinheit.  Put dry ingredients in sifter.  Sift into ungreased cake pan (8" x 8").  Make 3 holes in dry mixture.  Pour oil into first hole, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third.  Pour water over all.  Stir with fork until evenly blended.  Bake 35 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Invert to cool or frost right in pan. 
My friend writes:  "This is the original recipe, and I made it this way.  Taking it out of the pan was a mess!  I think I’d let it cool and frost in pan next time!" 
I can relate to these comments.  There are two big challenges when using baking soda and vinegar to make a baked item rise.  First, the flavor of the baking soda and vinegar tend to be quite strong, so it’s best to minimize the amounts used.  Second, the reaction goes very quickly and then there will be no more bubbles.  You want the batter to get heat-set before the bubbles have gone away.  Using the same pan for quickly stirring and baking minimizes loss of bubbles. 

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

One response to “World War II Cake Recipe (vegan)

  1. Alex

    Since posting this a few years ago, I have settled on using Rice Vinegar in my vegan baking recipes.  It\’s a bit sweet and has less flavor than some of the other vinegars. 

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