Recipe by Sarah Phillips © 2010 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variation: Wacky Chocolate Cake
The preparation couldn't have been simpler. Into an ungreased pan we sifted a combination of flour and baking powder, with added sugar and poppy seeds. Three round indentations then were formed in the dry mixture. Into one went lemon juice and vinegar, in the second a small amount of vanilla extract and in the third canola oil. The final step was to pour boiling water over the whole shebang and stir until it morphed into a smooth batter. And, then bake!
From the LA Times: "I call them folk art cakes," says Sarah Phillips, founder of the website CraftyBaking (formerly baking911.com). "They're ingrained in our society. They're easy to make, delicious, you make them in one bowl or two, they get passed down through the centuries."
While some cookbooks place the origin of crazy cake in the 1970s, food historian Lynne Olver, a reference librarian who created the website Food Timeline (www.foodtimeline.org), says that the cake existed as early as World War II, when rationing forced bakers to deal with shortages of key ingredients like eggs and butter.
"I bet you could push that recipe back even further," says Olver, adding that though the cake may have been born from necessity, by the 1970s women's magazines played a role in making crazy cake seem modern and trendy: "You were not just making a cake, you were conducting an experiment."
Olver speculates that the recipe was probably discovered by accident by a creative home cook: "Using vinegar in baking was not uncommon in the late 19th century. Presumably, the method (all mixed in one pan) was the byproduct of necessity. Smart cooks have been doing this for thousands of years."
CAKE RECIPE HELP