Happy VE Day, everyone! It's been sixty nine years since the war in Europe ended - can you believe that? I definitely can't! I also can't quite wrap my mind around how we're almost to the point where World War II is as far away to us as the Civil War was to people in 1945. To me, it seems like World War II really wasn't that long ago
When the news of victory in Europe reached the American public, spontaneous parties broke out all over the world, with huge crowds gathering in the streets of cities like London, New York and Los Angeles to celebrate. In my hometown, people stormed the town green to share their excitement, because apparently even if we don't all bring our sheep down there for grazing, it's still the focal point of this little New England town.
So, what did people make to celebrate an occasion like this? One of the tastiest from scratch cakes I've ever had the pleasure of making!
This issue is talked about in Happy Birthday, Molly!, as Molly's mother has set aside rations to make her daughter a real chocolate cake for her tenth birthday party. Since VE Day came as a surprise to most of the American public - sure, they knew the war was winding down and that Germany was going to surrender after the death of Adolf Hitler, but it's not like they knew which date exactly it would officially happen - people wouldn't have had as much of a chance to organize their rations accordingly as Molly's mother did for her birthday, and thus would have had to turn to whatever they had in their pantry to whip something up.
The result was cakes like this, and you can find the recipe I used here! Although it does use one whole cup of sugar, there's no eggs, butter or milk in this recipe, and most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry already. It was super easy to make, and actually reminded me a lot of the lava mug cake I made several weeks ago. (And have been making almost every Friday night since then. I wish I was kidding. I really do.)
You mix the dry ingredients together in the pan you're going to cook the cake in. Don't grease it! You need the ingredients to stay dry in order to mix them all together properly once the wet ingredients go in.
Next, you make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in the canola oil and vanilla. The cold water and cider vinegar gets drizzled on top of this, and then you mix everything together. Literally, that's it. If you're smart about how you add in your ingredients, you really only need one cup, a tablespoon, a teaspoon, the pan itself and a fork or spoon to stir everything together, and that's it. A recipe that needs very little clean up is always fabulous in my book!
It gets baked in the oven for about thirty to thirty five minutes. Mine took the full thirty five, but I'm pretty sure that's just how my oven do. I've noticed I usually need to leave things in a bit longer than the recipe's lowest recommended time.
Sprinkle on some powdered sugar, and you've got yourself one heck of a cake!
Now, I know vegan desserts - and especially vegan cakes - have a reputation of either being flavorless or really, really dry, and I will admit I'm not hugely interested in veganism as a lifestyle or exploring vegan desserts in most settings. That being said, this cake is absolutely not dry or tasteless, and honestly, I don't think anyone would be able to tell there wasn't any milk or butter or whatever else in this if you didn't tell them in advance! It was moist and nicely chocolately and sweet without being overly so. There is a bit of a crust on top and on the side, but it's thin and honestly, I don't mind having some texture on a cake I'm not planning on frosting.
Overall, between this being a really simple thing to make and clean up after and the fact that it's just really, really tasty, I think I have a new favorite cake recipe! It's nice to have something in your back pocket that's easy to whip up and tastes great, so I definitely think this is something I'll be going back to. If you're ever in the mood for a taste of the past or just a simple dessert that tastes like something complicated, I definitely recommend giving this a shot!
Now we need to find something really special for the 70th anniversary next year!