Anyone who grew up in the 50s will remember “Wacky Cakes”!
The story in my neighborhood was that it was wacky because it contained neither milk nor eggs. “How can that be????” It was wacky in that it was a brand new recipe that should not have worked. The only cakes that “worked” where I grew up were from rigid family hand-me-down recipes or, in my house, from a box.
But, stories vary as to its origins. Also known as “three hole cake”, the Wacky Cake is said to have originated in World War II, when enterprising cooks created desserts without the rationed milk and eggs. But other stories go back to the Depression Era, same issue, different cause.
We wonder how far back in time this concept really goes. Did some 1930’s housewife pull out her ancestor’s recipes for a dessert she could make with scarce ingredients on the wagon train? We’ll never know.
Another fun, unorthodox cake is the Dump-It Cake, a rich chocolate confection made by dumping the sequence of ingredients into a saucepan on the stove, carefully and in stages, of course, then pouring into a baking pan and baking.
This recipe, made recently by friend and super-cook Brian, originally appeared in the New York Times back in 2002: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9404-chocolate-dump-it-cake And, it was as delicious as it looks.
But, to get really wacky, you have to come to the 21st Century (or, perhaps to the late 20th when it might have been invented) and taste a soda siphon cake.
The first encounter myMEGusta had with this treat was at Le Saint-Placide, Isabelle and Luc Mobihan’s one-star Michelin restaurant in St. Malo, in Normandy, France. Set in Saint-Servan-sur Mer, a peaceful residential neighborhood well outside of the historical (and tourist drenched) walled city, this restaurant was the highlight of a recent dining trip to France. www.st-placide.com
The cake looked more like a piece of seaweed than a dessert. In fact, myMEGusta had to call over Madame La Proprietaire to ask what it was, and she articulately explained how the green tea scented cake batter, flourless and made with egg whites, had been extruded through a soda siphon (injecting it with some carbonation) before being baked in the microwave oven. Who would have thought a microwave oven could be an important tool for a first class pastry chef?
The process showed up on a recent episode of Masterchef, one of myMEGusta’s television addictions, with a finalist creating a cake in a similar manner, his incorporating whipped cream. It looked as delicious as my recent memory from Normandy.