Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wacky Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Birthday month continues continues, continues....

{Insert exploding confetti. Wait. Better not, I ain't cleaning that shit up.}

For those folks that know me, they (you) know I have a dirty, nasty love affair with a chocolate and peanut butter combination. Like filthy. 

And like all addictions, they start somewhere. For me, it was this cake. Unsuspecting sevenish-year-old Jenny didn't know what was about to hit her. This cake is to blame for all those chocolate peanut butter cups I hoard, all the spoonfuls upon spoonfuls of peanut butter I will eat right from the jar, topped with a copious amount of chocolate chips, the reason all those poor chocolate bunnies, come Easter, lose their ears after a generous dip into peanut butter, mercilessly devoured while their gooey, smudged bodies are left behind. Well, for later anyway. 

Yeah. This cake did me in. 

My mom used to make it quite often when we were kids. Actually, she made it, like, all the time. Money was tight in our household, as it was for many families back in the days of neon clothing, Who's The Boss, and hair bands. Parents made do with what they had, but my Mom? Yeah, she knew how to do it right. Dinners on a dime. Desserts on a dollar. Frugality at its best. 

Here's a wild factoid for those of you that enjoy a bit o' history. The origin of this cake apparently dates back to World War I when women wanted to make desserts for their family without having to crack into their rations. Eggs, milk, and butter were a precious commodity and pretty scarce. Even if one could get their hands on it, it was very expensive. So, women got crafty; resourceful, until one struck gold and created this thing of beauty using....wait for it, vinegar. 


Do you wanna know the best part about the whole sitch? It costs less than a box cake mix to make - even when it's on sale. The bester part? If you've got an allergy to eggs or dairy, this cake is for you. Besterest part? If you're vegan, this cake is ALSO for you. Yes, it's Vegan! And....AND it can be made GLUTEN-FREE! 

My Peoples. Does. The. Fun. Ever. End?

But seriously. Who knew vinegar could make such a kick ass cake?

Clearly somebody did. 

And I'm one who's eternally grateful for it. 


For the Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour*
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 teaspoon coffee granules, optional
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup canola oil
2 cups cold water

Peanut Butter Frosting**:

½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
3 tablespoons whole milk
2 cups powdered sugar

*To make this cake gluten-free, substitute all-purpose flour for equal cups of Cup4Cup Flour OR Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free All-Purpose Flour. Just be sure to add 1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum to the mix if using Bob's flour or any other gluten-free mix. Cup4Cup needs no addition.

**To make this cake truly vegan, please substitute all dairy products in frosting for vegan-friendly ingredients, such as Earth Balance Vegan Butter and milk with soy, almond, rice or coconut milk. 

You may also omit this frosting all together and simply dust with powdered sugar. OR you can make this sauce and drizzle it all over a big ol' slice. 

To make cake:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans OR one 9 x 13 baking dish with a light coat of non-stick cooking spray. The original recipe suggests that if you use a 9x13 baking dish, all the ingredients can be mixed and baked right in the dish. One dish dessert? Giddy up. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and coffee granules, if using. Make three wells into flour mixture. Put vanilla in one well, vinegar in another, and oil in the third. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until moistened. 

Pour evenly into prepared cake tins. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn out onto wire racks and cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and peanut butter. Add in milk and powdered sugar slowly. Beat until creamy. 

Apply frosting to top of one cake and sandwich with the other. Apply generous amount of frosting to cover entire surface of cake. 

Decorate as desired. Cake will keep for several days in an airtight container. 

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13 Responses to “Wacky Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting”

  1. Um, HELLO! Yes, please!! :D Can't wait to try this...I'm drooling a little bit.

  2. I've had one of those days where I NEEEEEED peanut butter frosting. You know what I mean?

    Having an eggless cake in the repertoire is always so useful! 'cause I run out of eggs and forget to buy them all the time! Love it :)

  3. I am definitely making this SOON. And have a tall a$$ glass of cold milk to go along with it! Whole Life Challenge, hurry up and finish! :P

  4. I am def trying this out! Hubs is crazy for PB and I am crazy for new vinegar uses!

  5. My Mom had a *war cake* recipe too, using mayonnaise! I love the look of this cake and I love peanut butter frosting. Definitely going to give this a go. Looks wonderful.

  6. that looks amazing, and I am not even a cake fan

  7. whoaaaaaa-whaaaat?! AMAZING! Your mom is obvi. awesome! This cake looks SOOOO deliciouuuus!!!!!

  8. Crazy!!! Tasty Tuesday Feature at this upcoming Tuesday! What day is today? Ha! Thank you for sabotaging diet this month!!!! laura

  9. Hi!

    I featured your recipe for this week's Tasty Tuesdays!
    I hope you'll stop by and checking it out, and link up again this week!


  10. This recipe my mom has been baking since she was a teen- the cake part. For the truly amazing experience of wacky cake, mix it right in the pan (metal not glass). I can't tell you what is different or why it is different, it just is, and is just that much better. I request this still for every birthday. My mom's cake has a pudding frosting. 1 large box of chocolate instant pudding, make as directed with milk and add 1 cup powdered sugar. Immediately after removing cake (keep in pan), twist holes all over top with knife. Pour half of frosting into holes, let cool and frost with rest of frosting. Keep in fridge. I am sure this recipe with the peanut butter frosting is good too and I am surprised to see wacky cake in something other than my mom's recipe book. I can vouch for this cake (if made original way) that it is the most amazing dense, moist, delicious chocolate cake you will ever eat. Ever! And I am a bit of a food snob.

  11. Jenny, this cake looks AMAZING! I'm a chocolate peanut butter fiend so this whole cake is about individual sized for me. I tried a vegan chocolate cake last year and loved it. I couldn't believe how moist 'n fluffy it was. I can't wait to try this. I hope you had an amazing birthday month. You deserve it, girl!

  12. My mom made Wacky cake all the time - I remember thinking vinegar was so strange in a cake... - but we never had PEANUT BUTTER ICING!! This sounds stupendous.

  13. I have been making this cake for decades and I call in love with it all over again every time I make it. I've never made peanut butter icing, but I will today.