[Celebratory] Depression Cake


Well, well, well. Five years looks good on us.

Someone proposed to me recently that maybe our bodies remember the things we have encountered.

In terms of this website (and the memories I have stored), my body thinks of: Apple-Asian Pear Pie with White Cheddar Crust and Bacon Streusel, Zucchini Pizza with Lemon and Chives, Homemade Hibiscus Herbal Tea, and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Pies. Fondly.

Friends, you and I have had a very delicious year. Let’s celebrate with Depression Cake.

[can I get a womp womp?]

Also, it gets worse (lol)

You see, I ate this cake to commemorate pretty much everything that happened as a kid. This is partially because I could digest nothing. Nobody knew I had Crohn’s until I was almost 20, so I grew up on a very restricted diet. This is to say:

Everything we might celebrate with made me sick, except this cake. This cake, free of everything that wasn’t always available or cheap during the Great Depression, was something I could enjoy.

Birthdays and holidays and sad days were marked with this simple chocolate cake. I even remember a piece of it on my plate, snow piling outside, sitting next to Alexis after my dad died.

I made up my own version to mark our five years of cooking together. It has more cocoa powder in the base, and less sugar than usual, and I used real butter for its cocoa-coffee frosting. Vinegar reacts with the baking soda to make it *fluff* this time instead of milk and eggs.

What results is a delicate crumb, with just the right amount of chocolate, and the perfect level of moist. It’s uncanny, really. Some people call it “wacky” or “crazy”

[and the fact that those words substitute the original – depression – is problematic and indicative of a greater societal issue, just sayin’]

I digress. Let’s just call it what it is. Delicious. Celebratory. Five years. Holy shit. Thank you.

One Year: Coffee-Cardamom Layer Cake with Sweetened Condensed Milk Frosting
Two Years: Anniversary Banana Almond Butter Cake
Three Years: Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Four Years: Pan Con Tomate Y Manchego
Five Years: Spiced Brown Butter Nectarine Scones

[Celebratory] Depression Cake
Makes 9×13-inch

CAKE:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 vegetable oil

FROSTING:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1-2 tbsp whole milk

sprinkles, for serving

CAKE:
Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring glass, combine water, vinegar, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Pour batter into cake pan, spreading to the sides. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean, with moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan completely.

FROSTING:
Beat together butter, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Beat in vanilla. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in half cup installments, alternating with whole milk, until frosting is desired consistency. Frost completely cooled cake. Add sprinkles, if using. Serve.

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