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Susan’s Crazy Chocolate Cake

A simple, delicious chocolate cake you mix directly in the baking pan. (Susan Mintert/Indiana Home Cooks)

This cake most likely orginated during the depression, when ingredients like milk, eggs and butter may have been difficult to come by. It relys on baking soda and vinegar for the leavening. The cake is rich, moist and delicious, and a great companion to fresh strawberries.

Susan’s Crazy Chocolate Cake


  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 6 T cocoa powder
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • Scant 2/3 C canola or other light oil
  • 2 C cold water


  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Measure dry directly into a 13” x 9” cake pan, un-greased and un-floured.
  3. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly in the pan, using a fork or wire whisk. Make three wells in the dry mixture (two small and one large well).
  4. Into one of the small wells put vanilla, and into the other small well put vinegar. Finally, pour the oil into the larger well. Carefully pour the 2 cups water over all. With a fork or whisk, stir thoroughly, making sure to incorporate all dry ingredients and the oil. Take it slowly at first, so as not to slosh anything out of the pan. The batter will have small lumps. That’s unavoidable mixing by hand, and it’s fine.
  5. Bake at 375º for 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean when done. Cool completely on a rack.
  6. To serve, dust individual cake pieces

You can hear more about desperation desserts, and other stories of people who cook, eat, and drink in the Hoosier State, on Indiana Home Cooks, available on iTunes and Apple Podcasts, and at

Susan Mintert

Susan Mintert is a wife, mom, and home cook in West Lafayette, Indiana. She shares her love of food and the people who make it on the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast. She believes the tradition, culture, celebration, fellowship, memory, and love of food make it central to our lives beyond simply feeding our stomachs.

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