Remember Mollie Katzen of Moosewood fame? She self-published a much loved vegetarian recipe book during the peace-lovin’ tie-dyed early 1970s. That was a time of social awareness and oil and gas shortages, just a few years after the first Earth Day and at the beginning of the greening of America. Well, we didn’t really get so green at that time but we did manage to stifle pollution.
I’m reminding you about this because she’s back, with a fun cookbook for kids called Honest Pretzels: And 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook. And we’re back with a different crisis that affects our health and environmental justice. And so we are baking a cake for our time.
In the book is a clever recipe for a vegan chocolate cake that I recognized as an old recipe called Crazy Cake. It’s so rich and delicious that no one would ever know that it is made with few ingredients: little flour and no butter or eggs or milk. Perfect for times when we need to be frugal with our pantry and make the best of our resources.
When I’ve made this before, I’ve used half coffee, half water for the liquid, or substituted orange liqueur or grated orange peel for vanilla, or added chocolate chips and nuts. I actually like it best plain, sprinkled with confectioners sugar. While I’m often lax about measuring versus weighing, weighing the dry ingredients is important here to get the right texture.
Vegan Chocolate Cake Adapted from Mollie Katzen, Honest Pretzels
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour (160 grams)
1 c granulated sugar (200 grams)
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder (30 grams)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c water (or half water, half coffee)
1/3 c canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
1 ts vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
Confectioners sugar for garnish
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the wet ingredients and stir to break up any lumps. Pour into prepared pan, spreading the batter evenly. Bake for about 35 minutes or until he top is slightly springy to the touch and a toothpick of cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.