During the Great Depression, a time of severe worldwide economic struggle–which took place in the 1930’s and lasted almost a decade– many couldn’t afford milk, eggs or butter, so recipes abound from this period that are accidentally vegan.
I came across this recipe for chocolate cake and just had to give it a try. I made a couple small tweaks, adding a tablespoon of crushed espresso powder to bump up the cocoa flavor and spread raspberry jam between the layers for that little extra something special.
I also chose the classic Hershey’s Cocoa One-Bowl Frosting Recipe from the side of the cocoa can, handed down by my grandmother when I was a little girl learning to bake in her kitchen. I simply substituted Earth Balance buttery baking sticks for the butter to veganize.
Depression-Era Chocolate Cake
Ingredients: 3 cups flour 2 cups sugar 1/4 tsp. salt 2 tsp. baking soda 10 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa (or 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp) 2 tsp. vanilla 3/4 cup vegetable oil 2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups cold water
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl then add the wet and combine until completely mixed. Pour into two 8 or 9 inch greased and floured cake pans and bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes.
Notes: Careful not to over-bake. Check cake for doneness at around 25 minutes by sticking a toothpick in the center.
Don’t skimp on the jam!!
Also, this cake freezes really well. Cut into individual portions and freeze on a sheet tray, then transfer to covered container or ziplock bags. Easy!