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Savvy Mom: The Easiest Chocolate Cake


In the children's book A Baby Sister for Frances, the mother says, "You may be sure that there will always be plenty of chocolate cake around here."

When I read that book as a parent, I thought, that's all well and good, but how does she have time to bake with a new infant? I suspect it was with this ridiculously easy recipe. Recently, I wondered if it was easy enough for a child to make, as I tried last month with pumpkin pie.

kids making cakeMy sons, five and eight, were willing test subjects. Like their mom, they recognize baking as a means to a baked good. They measured, dumped, and stirred, then put the cake into the oven. Thirty minutes later, they tested to be sure it was done, and we had chocolate cake.

Since this cake uses cocoa and not chocolate, the chocolate flavor is like a polite guest knocking on the door. I prefer my chocolate to barge in unannounced and tear up the place. This is, however, the EASIEST chocolate cake—even easier than a mix—and one that two boys were quite pleased with themselves for producing.

What are your favorite passages on food in books, or your favorite things to bake with kids?

Easiest Chocolate Cake (aka Wacky or Cockeyed Cake)

Serves 6 or more, depending on your definition of serving size

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 8-inch-square baking pan.

Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in pan, taking care in corners. With the back of a large spoon, make 1 large and 2 small craters in dry ingredients. Add oil to large crater and vinegar and vanilla separately to small craters. Pour water into pan, then mix until just a few streaks of flour remain, again taking care in corners. Immediately put pan in oven.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan. Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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