Crazy Cake

Everyone has particular food routines when they’re sick. For me, recovering from a stomach bug means plain toast, white rice, and ginger ale. Once I’ve really turned the corner, I move on to Tony’s hot & sour soup and chocolate cake. Don’t ask me why, but when I’ve been without food for a couple days, I want strong flavors, and that peppery, vinegary soup always does the trick. For the cake, Tony used to run out and get me a slice of Just Desserts’ weekend cake (a triple-layer chocolate cake), but the bakery moved out of the neighborhood and nothing else has really filled the gap. This week, it occured to me that I was feeling well enough to make my own recovery cake.

Crazy Cake is the first cake I ever made. I think I made it with Libby, and I may be to blame for the salt-for-sugar debacle. The recipe is all over the place: in Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book (a fabulous book even for those of us who like to cook); in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home (where it’s called, accurately, 6-Minute Cake; even in my fevered state, I had the batter together in half the time it took for the oven to preheat), and it goes by many names (cockeyed cake; vegan chocolate cake, which is also accurate, but less appetizing). All you need to know is that it’s good, quick, and plenty chocolatey. I don’t know why I don’t make it more often.

1 1/2 c white flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 c water or coffee
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp vinegar (any old vinegar will do, though I grabbed a fancy red wine vinegar this time and it was particularly good)

1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips (optional, but what’s not better with some chocolate chips?)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine the dry ingrediants in an ungreased 8″ square or 9″ round baking pan. In a 2-cup measure, combine the water, oil and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingrediants into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork until smooth (make sure to get into the corners so that you don’t get dry floury bites in the finished cake!). Now add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter from the baking soda and vinegar reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25 minutes, cool a bit, and enjoy.


  1. Libby says:

    I don’t think the salt-for-sugar thing was your fault; I’m pretty sure I made that cake when we still lived in Tokyo, and I doubt I would have let you help! (nice big sister, I always was…) Anyway I’m still not convinced that that was the problem with that particular cake, but that’s what Mike always says…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have been hunting for this recipe. I orignally found it in a promotional Marlboro cigarette chuck wagon recipe pamphlet. We made it several times with black coffee. I loved it but lost the recipe. I posted a request in an on-line seniors group today & a woman sent me this. I recognized it right away. Instead of chocalate chips, our recipe called for a couple of tsp’s of sugar sprinkle on top before baking. I’m making it tomorrw..Thanks. Ron in Milton, Fl.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What? You haven’t discovered Arizmendi’s fudge cake yet (sold by the whole cake OR slice)????!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    My mom made this when I was a kid. Also got it from the marlboro recipe book. She used suger and cinnamon for the top 🙂