Depression Cake or Crazy Cake; An Adventure

2016-05-10 18.01.03
The stuff…

Baking in Korea is an adventure. An adventure that often times has an uncertain path full of twists and turns. I am often times “making do” with the ingredients that I have. For example; for the first year, I didn’t have vanilla extract or cocoa powder. It is almost impossible to find those things in Korea and when you do find them they are CRAZY expensive. So my mom was kind enough to send me some. I then can find the other things, like sugar, flour, salt… pretty easily.

This baking extravaganza was caused by the need to test out a recipe that I wanted to use in my 8th grade US history class. The Depression Cake or also called Crazy Cake was used during the American Great Depression. It requires very little ingredients and what it does require were easier finds during the 1930s. Instead of using milk, eggs and butter, which were a hot commodity of the time, this cake uses flour, sugar, cocoa powder (to make it chocolate), vinegar, vanilla extract and vegetable oil…and…the other items in the above picture. There are a ton of ways to make this kind of cake, which shows just how desperate people were to have a semi-normal life during a difficult time in history.

I used a recipe from “

Craziness happened!
Craziness happened!

What is crazy about this cake is that it pretty much uses science to cause a reaction that produces the same consistency, taste, and cake like characteristics that a normal cake recipe would have. How did they come up with this! Of course the people of the 1930’s didn’t just eat cake and historically these cakes were known as “special occasion cakes” but still very interesting.

While I was making my cake, I struggled the most with having a big enough pan that still would fit into my little-tiny-microscopic-toaster oven. Though the recipe calls for no bowls, I ended up needing to use one because I just couldn’t fit and mix everything into my shallow pan.  I tried and it ended up being a mess!


So I poured it into a bowl. I was worried because I couldn’t keep the ingredients separated properly and I was also having to work with regular apple vinegar rather than white vinegar….because…well I live in Korea.  It seemed to work out…

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In my oven....I can't wait for a real oven.
In my oven….I can’t wait for a real oven. (P.S. This was while it was still baking…you can tell it isn’t finished) 

I didn’t make the batter smooth enough so it is a bit bumpy like brownies but that is probably because I struggled with the mixing step….next time I hope to be able to properly mix it. It only took about 30 minutes of baking…

The finished product!
The finished product!

…after making some strawberry sauce (my go to frosting here…when strawberries are in season) and some chocolate topping I sate down to enjoy my Depression Cake. I think it looks pretty good and  it tasted great!

Baking is not easy to do in South Korea. My kitchen only has one counter spot and a lot of the items I need  are hard to find but I really enjoy baking. Being able to try new things and see what will happen makes life fun.

Thanks for reading!

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