From Our Moms

Wacky cake with white icing

May 5, 2010

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Makes one 8-inch square

Created during the Depression when some ingredients were scarce and rationed, wacky cake doesn’t use either eggs or milk. In my house, this cake was known as the mix-in-pan cake, and my mom, Pat, frosted it. She put all the ingredients in a cake pan, stirred them with a fork, and baked the square. It meant she had a quick last-minute sweet that was easy to clean up. More importantly, it was my dad’s favorite dessert.


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup water

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

2. In an 8-inch-square baking pan, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

3. Using a fork, make 3 wells in the dry ingredients. Add vanilla to one, vinegar to another, oil to the third. Pour the water on top. With the fork, stir the ingredients until well combined.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool.


2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Pour in the butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine.

2. If the icing is too loose, add a little more confectioners’ sugar. If it is too stiff, add a little more milk. Spread on the cooled cake.

Christine Merlo