There are lots of varieties of cakes that have “missing” ingredients. Vegan cakes, depression cakes, cakes that use a can of soda instead of oil and eggs… the list goes on for all the ways you can make that quintessential dessert. Today was another blustery and snowy day in New Hampshire. In other words, it was the perfect weather for baking a cake!
Alas, we had no eggs. And no powdered sugar (for frosting!). And I had eaten the last of the chocolate chips. The cupboards, as they say, were a little bare.
No matter! It was my sister Ally, of The Kitchen in Stereo, to the rescue! I had texted her with my dilemma. She said, “Make a wowie cake.” I paused. I furrowed my brow. I had no idea what she was talking about. After a very quick search, it became abundantly clear. A cake you make with stuff that’s definitely in the pantry! A cake that requires no eggs! A cake you could make on wartime rations! A cake that makes you say, “Wowie!” This I could do.
The recipe I used was incredibly simple. Just some sugar, flour, oil, vinegar, baking soda, vanilla, cocoa powder, and cold water. These were all ingredients I had on hand.
But what would I use for frosting? I had no powdered sugar for dusting, and no powdered sugar to make frosting. I felt stuck. I’ve tried using recipes that call for powdered sugar and substituting it with granulated sugar instead, but that has never, ever worked. It’s disgusting and grainy. It’s like putting a big spoonful of sweetened beach sand in your mouth. Perhaps you half expect a cigarette butt (maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the beach just seem to turn into a giant ashtray?). At any rate, I wasn’t sure what my searching would produce when I typed “frosting with granulated sugar” into my Google search bar.
Turns out there are plenty of frostings without powdered sugar. I was feeling adventurous, so after looking through a couple recipes I landed on this (there are many versions of this same recipe online…the one I used actually called for 3 tbs of flour, but everything else was the same. I couldn’t find the link after I had closed it.). Um, frosting that you cook? On the stove? I was a tad doubtful but decided I had no choice. It was either this or have a plain Jane cake.
Let me cut to the chase: it was the perfect compliment to the cake. Perfect amount of sweetness. Light and fluffy and smooth as whipped cream. Not a hint of grainy, sandy granulated sugar (though it contains a whole cup of the stuff). It wasn’t even that hard to make. I think the keys to success are as follows: 1. Do not melt your butter. Just soften it. In fact, just leave it out and let it come to room temperature. You need to cream the butter and sugar together, and the butter just can’t be liquid if you want to do this. 2. Have faith. When you pour that flour/milk mixture into the mixing bowl, it is going to look gross. The whole things stays wet for quite a few minutes, and it takes a while to combine. Prepare yourself to blend for a good five minutes while you wait for the frosting to get stiff. But it will! Just have patience! And then you will try some and your eyeballs will pop out of your face because you’re so surprised that the granulated sugar virtually disappeared, leaving only a smooth, buttery frosting in its wake.
Would make both again, and again, and again.
What’s your favorite cake recipe?