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Wacky Cake With Coconut Frosting: Depression-Era Chocolate Cake

Patty enjoys cooking for family and friends. She creates simple and satisfying treats from old family recipes.

Wacky cake recipes vary. This one adds a delicious coconut and walnut topping, toasted to perfection under the broiler.

Wacky cake recipes vary. This one adds a delicious coconut and walnut topping, toasted to perfection under the broiler.

When I find a recipe made from all "scratch" ingredients, I own it as mine.

The Story Behind the Wacky Cake

When I was in elementary school in the early 1960s, my mom enrolled my sister and me in a summer cooking class hosted by our local electric company. During the five-day class we learned the basics of cooking safety and got hands-on experience with simple recipes in the kitchen. The booklet of recipes we made that week included this recipe for Wacky Cake, a Depression-era recipe developed when certain ingredients were in short supply.

My mother is such a chocolate addict; she was thrilled when I asked to make the cake at home. Needless to say, it was a hit!

Fifty years later, my 82-year-old mother still makes this cake for every holiday, including birthdays.

Baking From Scratch

I am a nut for basic cooking. It's probably the result of growing up in a family of women from the Great Depression who fed their households from simple ingredients they had on hand in their cupboards. I have never been a fan of mixes and pre-made food so when I find a recipe that is made "from scratch," I own it as mine.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

25 min

35 min

1 hour

9 servings

Ingredients

For the cake, sift together:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespooons Hershey's cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add:

  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup warm water

For the broiled Icing:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut or miniature marshmallows
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Instructions

  1. Mix the cake ingredients thoroughly. Pour the batter into an ungreased 8 x 8 x 2-inch broiler safe pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the icing. Mix all the ingredients together and spread over the top of the warm cake.
  3. Set the broiler on high and place the warm cake underneath, about three inches away from the unit. Leave the oven door open a crack to prevent the oven from overheating. Watch carefully and remove the cake as soon as the mixture turns a toasty brown.

Why Cooking From Scratch Is a Great Idea

Cooking from scratch is all about controlling the ingredients. Whether you have a food allergy, need to reduce sugar levels, or are just really wanting to know what you are eating, cooking from scratch is the way to go.

Cooking from scratch allows you to:

  • Control sugar levels by eliminating high fructose corn syrup.
  • Eliminate artificial ingredients like flavor enhancers and preservatives.
  • Combat food allergies.
  • Reduce your grocery bill by cooking with items you have stocked on your own shelves.
  • Ensure freshness.
  • Enjoy the aromas of fresh baked foods that you don't get when you open a boxed cake from the grocery store.

Optional: Add Miniature Marshmallows

Using the broiler to make the frosting is super simple. It only takes a couple of minutes but the end result is a toasted, nutty flavor that adds so much to this chocolate cake recipe. If you aren't into coconut and walnuts though, try using miniature marshmallows. The end result will be divine!

Using cocoa powder in the cake and topping it with a broiled coconut icing is reminiscent of German chocolate, without the German chocolate.

Using cocoa powder in the cake and topping it with a broiled coconut icing is reminiscent of German chocolate, without the German chocolate.

Depression-Era Cooking

© 2022 Patty Poet

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