Vegan Chocolate Cake & Annual Meeting Retreat

Memorial Day Weekend is always the SF Monthly Meeting’s annual retreat at Ben Lomond Quaker Center. There was some discussion this year of how long this has been going on, and I think we had one Friend say he’d been coming for 30 years, and one Friend say she had been at the workcamp that laid the foundation for the building we were in (with her six month old baby, now a 40 year old father who had brought his own sons) and that the retreat couldn’t have started before that. So, in any case, this makes it one of the longest standing traditions of SFMM.

Chris M. and I have been attending for a dozen years or so, having missed one because of a niece’s baptism and one for a cousin’s wedding along the way. It is still a wonderful way to get to know people better, some new and some we met at that first retreat we went to, about four months after we arrived in SF. Some of the regular retreat attenders are former members of our meeting who still come back once a year to connect and relax with us.

It is a very low-key affair: the only parts planned in advance are the meals. The rest of the schedule is developed by a group process on Saturday morning after breakfast, when anything anyone wants to do with other people can be proposed and assigned a time and place. And even then, all activities, from bible study to water balloons to worship sharing to hiking to the waterfall, and including the daily meeting for worship, are entirely optional.

Anyway, at lunch on Sunday, some one asked if I would publish my recipe for vegan chocolate cake on my blog. I hereby comply. I ask only that that Friend leave a comment in the near future.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together in an ungreased 8x8x2 inch baking pan, pressing out any lumps with the back of a fork:

1 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup succanat (regular white or brown sugar also work fine)
3 tablespoons cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Make three holes in the stirred dry ingredients. Into these place< 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour over all

1 cup cold water (or coffee or milk, depending on your flavor and ethical preferences)

Mix with a fork just until all ingredients are well blended. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool in the pan.

This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9x13x2 inch pan, but it will probaly need 40 minutes or so to bake, depending on your oven.

When I prepared this to serve after a memorial meeting for worship once, I sprinkled the top of the cake, while it was still warm, with vegan & organic chocolate chips. After they melted a little bit, I spread them out into a thin layer of frosting. This was amazingly good.

This cake is also fabulous with vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries.

The funny thing for me is that this “vegan” recipe is readily available in almost any basic cook book, sometimes called Crazy Cake or Wacky Cake, because of the vinegar, etc.

I first had this cake as part of an after school religious education program at First Presbyterian Church of Salinas when I was in fourth grade.

Each week, the teacher brought in one of the ingredients for us to taste. Most weeks she brought in both the kitchen-ready version and the unprocessed form of each ingredient, like flour and a wheat stalk. Some ingredients were yummy, some were terrible, some were just bland. But when she put them all together at the end of the semester, the cake was rich and delicious.

The point was that religious practice is like that too. We enjoy some aspects, we may dislike other aspects, but the result wouldn’t be the same without them all.

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Blogger kathy said...

Robin, I made this cake for my county fair 4-H project one year and it was chosen for the state fair. We called it Crazy Cake. It's been years since I've made it. It's blue ribbon yummy.

Your comparison to religious practice is just the right word for me this morning. Name and all.

5/30/2007 9:31 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Ooooh - I had a homemade yeast bread chosen for best in show in the 4-H county fair one year. I love taking this cake to potlucks because it mixes and carries right in the same pan. My one extra step if I'm taking it somewhere is to wipe the edge of the pan before I bake it, so it looks neater. But it is always popular.

I wonder if Quakerism is more or less of a crazy cake religion than others?

My own religious practice is more like the process of developing a new recipe right now - I've taken out some things, I've added in some new, and I have to figure out if the batter will come together or not. And then I'll find out if I really like it better this way or not.

5/30/2007 2:12 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

4-H is such a great experience for kids. My best friend's mom taught cooking and my mom taught sewing - together they tried to make us decent homemakers. My friend turned out to be a great cook. I still love to sew and became a quilter. Together we could have made someone a great wife. :)

5/30/2007 10:03 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Kathy, I want to write a whole post one of these days about all the ways that 4-H was good for me and my family and my community.

5/31/2007 1:37 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

A 4-H post is a great idea. Good memories. Very helpful life skills. I can't imagine what my cooking would be like if it weren't for Sharon Holdahl's patience and creativity. I learned to walk in front of an audience (without tripping and falling on my face) for the fashion shows. THAT has paid off big time in my adult life! My knees still quake when I speak publicly but when I ask, people say they couldn't tell. That is a mystery to me. I credit 4-H for teaching me how to stand while speaking so I don't pass out. :)

5/31/2007 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmm mmmm.... I love this cake, too. In fact, I think I'd have to vote it my favorite. It's always so moist and rich. We love it with some vanilla-cream cheese frosting. I've found the mixing goes a little better if I sift all the dry ingredients into the pan.

The basic recipe for this cake was published in the I Hate to Cook Book back in the 60's or 70's as "Cockeyed Cake." Since then, it's been referred to as "Crazy Cake" as well. My family has always referred to it as "5-Minute Cake" because it takes that long to mix and put it in the oven.

Oh, great. Now I'm hungry!

6/01/2007 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the recipe, I got one years ago from a friend and lost it. I like making it when I attend mixed groups so that it's available to everyone. :)

6/03/2007 12:46 PM  
Blogger cubbie said...

hey robin,

i just googled "vegan chocolate cake vinegar" (without the quotes), looking for the recipe that trisha used for my birthday cake, because i promised it to some people. i don't think this is it, but you're on the first page of results.


6/04/2009 8:50 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Hi cubbie. I think they're all variations on this same recipe - a little more of this or less of that - it's all good.

I still haven't written that post about why 4-H was (and is) a great thing. Hmmm. My older son is old enough now to join, I wonder what it would take.

6/05/2009 1:02 AM  
Blogger RantWoman said...

I found this post looking for what Qukers say about baptism. Vegan chocolate cake sounds better than what passes for baptism in my meeting: getting all the newcomers to do dishes.

11/13/2010 6:08 PM  

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