Growing up in the ’50’s and ’60s’s as I did, I was required — required, mind you! — to take “homemaking class.” According to the Kansas School Board at that time, “homemaking” consisted mainly of cooking, washing, and sewing.   My children may be surprised to know that I would really rather have taken woodshop classes — those guys were making furniture! They were learning how to make cars start! And talk about cleaning — cleaning an engine sounded pretty interesting.  Alas, we girls were  simply encouraged to limit our talents to the “feminine arts,” we were discouraged from learning any of the aforementioned “masculine skills.” The division of labor sounds like a good idea on paper, but in my case, it simply justified weakness and perhaps even laziness — “Why learn to change a tire? I’ll just get some guy to do it.” Hopefully, we women have learned by now that we don’t have to sacrifice femininity to be well-equipped to take responsibility for ourselves.  Beyond that, I hope that my daughters will feel free to use all their talents in whatever way brings them satisfaction and delight.

Make no mistake, I consider homemaking a high calling.  I just don’t want “homemaker” to be a synonym for weakness, or dependency.  Helpfulness is better than helplessness. And homemaking requires a lot more than cooking and cleaning.

Anyway, one of the first things we learned to cook in homemaking class was Wacky Cake.  You may know it by some other name: Crazy Cake, Easy-Mix Cake. It is mixed and baked in the same pan, and, as a relic from the frugal war years, made without eggs or milk. This also makes it great for vegans! It is really quite chocolatey, and great with a glass of milk.  We never frosted it; we just sprinkle powdered sugar on the top. I am including two sets of ingredients: one for a 9″ square cake pan, and one for a 9″x13″ cake pan.  Mixing instructions are the same.

Wacky Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour                           3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar                                  2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa                              1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt                         1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda                          2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 cup water                                 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup oil                                  2/3 cups oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla                      2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar                     2 teaspoons vinegar

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the dry ingredients in the pan and mix them with a fork.  Make three little “wells” in the dry ingredient mixture.  In one well, put the oil. In another, put the vinegar, and in the last, put the vanilla.  Pour the water over the whole thing and stir carefully with the fork.  Try to get all the lumps out. The batter will probably seem thin. Put it in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 25 minute, or till the top springs back when you touch it lightly.

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