The first time I made a crazy cake, it was a few days after 9/11. At the time, I lived in Wisconsin with my boyfriend and the world felt sharp and uncertain.
After spending countless hours on the couch, I needed something to do that would get me away from the TV. Baking seemed like a good idea. A recipe on the back of the Wooden Spoon Baking Book caught my eye, “This cake is mixed right in the pan, without an egg to help it rise. The crazy part is that it turns out so well.”
Something easy that turns out well? Just what I needed.
Fifteen years later, that boyfriend is now my husband, we live in New York, and the world, well, you know — at times, it feels sharp and uncertain.
I still make the crazy cake.
- Cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cooled coffee or milk, regular or dairy-free
- 1 tablespoon apple cider or distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit, or a combination
- Powdered sugar for dusting, or 2 cups frosting (optional)
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8×8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the coffee or milk, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir until the batter is smooth; it will be thin. Add the chocolate chips and dried fruit if using and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar or finish with your favorite frosting if desired.
Storage: Leftover cake can be stored tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days.