An Almost Depressingly Good Chocolate Cake

This weekend I decided to attempt a version of a chocolate depression cake, popularized in the Depression era when dairy items were hard to come by, and people tried to make due with less.

This is how the cake looked, after sitting overnight.

My first version of this “wacky” cake used flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla, coffee liqueur, olive oil, white vinegar, and cold water. No dairy to be found. This is why folks tout the recipe — because it’s a vegan treat, but alas, I’m not a vegan, and I honestly couldn’t taste the chocolate, even after it sat for 6+ hours (although the flavor is supposed to get better with time, according to online reviews I read of other recipes).

My second version is the one you’ll find below and it’s not vegan. This time around, I added mayonnaise in place of the oil, and upped the cocoa powder. I also decreased the amount of coffee liqueur and added more sugars altogether (a full cup of white sugar, plus two tablespoons of brown sugar).  The chocolate flavor is still not as intense as a regular cake, but it’s not a bad version, especially in a pinch!

I can only hope the friends at my Mah-Jongg brunch tomorrow will like it as well!

An Almost Depressingly Good Chocolate Cake
Makes one cake. I decided to bake the cake in a loaf pan, because I wanted to be able to cut uniform, rectangular slices. By baking it this way and because of my ingredient alterations, I had to increase the baking time to 60 minutes from the original 30 minutes. Most other recipes use an 8 x 8″ pan for this cake. Mini bundts would be cute too, unfortunately I didn’t think of those until typing this up!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar (break up any clumps before adding)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/4 tablespoons white vinegar
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
splash of vanilla
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 cup cold water

baking spray with flour
loaf pan

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan with baking spray.

I began the recipe by sifting the flour and the cocoa powder into a large bowl.

This cake is a good way to use up the end of the canister of cocoa powder!

Then I added the sugars, the baking soda, and a pinch of salt.

The dry ingredients together.

Next, I incorporated the wet ingredients: the vinegar, mayonnaise, vanilla, coffee liqueur, and water. Stir gently to mix the cake batter. Once the batter begins to come together, stir another minute or so until smooth.

The batter is smooth and ready to go in the pan.

Spoon the batter into the greased baking pan. Bake cake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

A kind-of fuzzy oven shot.

Remove the cake from oven. Allow to cool, and enjoy. The longer you allow this cake to sit, the more the pronounced the flavors become. I plan to top mine with sour cream frosting in the morning — photos and a flavor update to come!

Update:  This cake needs to sit.  It is not like a normal cake, and while normal cakes taste fabulous warm from the oven, this cake needs time to become a truly tasty cake.  It is probably a good idea to make this cake the night before you plan to serve it (good thing I did!).  For a delicious sour cream frosting to use with this cake, see my post, Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting!