Here on the farm, fall is a busy time of year and my pantry seems to get neglected. I am so busy harvesting and preserving that I sometimes find that when I go to bake that I’m missing a staple ingredient. For instance butter or eggs or maybe I just have one egg. It is at times like this when I miss having chickens! When I find myself in that situation I like to have a couple of recipes in my repertoire that allow me to produce a delicious, quick and easy cake without having to run out and buy something or not bake at all. When winter hits it is not always possible to get out of the driveway. I find that I tend to be more “pantry prepared” when the threat of being snowed-in looms.
I came upon this recipe in the Farm Journal's Choice Chocolate Recipes cookbook decades ago when I was a mother with three young children and I had very little time on my hands. I often found myself without eggs or butter. Back then I loved this recipe because it solved my missing egg problem and it came together in a matter of minutes — hence solving my lack of time issue.
This secret of this chocolate cake is that it substitutes vinegar and baking soda for eggs. The combination of vinegar and baking soda mimics the leavening ability of egg. Baking soda reacts with the acid in vinegar to bubble up and introduce air, making the cake fluffy. I imagine that the origin of this cake is that it is an old fashioned cake born from the necessities of farmstead life. This recipe is handy because it is inexpensive and quick to make. It is always fun to see how people react when they are told there are no eggs in such a moist cake.
Today, more and more people are searching for tasty vegan baking recipes.
When I first started making this recipe I had not even heard of the term vegan, so I fell in love with this cake on its own merits. Nowadays we all know vegans and it is rewarding to be able to bake something that you know people will enjoy, vegans and non-vegans alike. This is how I revisited this delicious chocolate cake. Recently, my youngest daughter, herself a vegan, asked me if I had any "good" vegan cake recipes. This recipe certainly fits the bill, as it has no animal products. The original recipe does call for butter, however in this recipe I use a neutral vegetable oil instead. Using oil instead of butter or shortening eliminates a step — melting and cooling the butter. It is also cheaper. The result is a very moist cake that stays moist. This cake is actually fairly low-fat as well compared to other chocolate cake recipes.
From a baking point of view, there are so many things to like about this chocolate cake recipe. It calls for cocoa and that eliminates the step of having to melt and cool the chocolate. This step is often challenging, as you always have to be careful the chocolate doesn’t scorch. I also find that using cocoa in baking gives a chocolate cake or cupcakes a very deep flavor, which I really enjoy. This is a perfect recipe for a beginner baker as it is fail-proof.
With my daughter at my side as the taste tester we experimented with this recipe. In fact I made 4 cakes in one afternoon. I substituted coffee for the water, I added some orange zest, and I added chocolate chips. I also added some well-drained grated zucchini. (If you add zucchini it takes longer to bake) The results were all very good.
Serving Suggestion:If you like you can serve with fresh fruit yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream.
Chef's Tip: This recipe can be halved and baked in a 9-inch square or round cake tin.
Farmhouse Vegan Chocolate Cake
Yields 10 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40-50 minutes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil
2 cups water, coffee or cola
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour the cake tin.
Sift all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.
Add the wet ingredients: vinegar, oil, water, and vanilla into the bowl and mix well.
Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes (time will vary depending on what size cake tin you use) or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve.