Wacky cake recipe – Frugal war rations Wednesday

Filed in Blog by on January 12, 2011 10 Comments
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wacky cake - my frugal war rations recipe for this week

wacky cake - my frugal war rations recipe for this week

Last week I announced I would be sharing one frugal ‘war time’ or ‘rations’ recipe per week. This isn’t because I fear World War III is about to break out, but because the times of rations were a time of ‘waste not want not’ in the kitchen. Zero food waste wasn’t something weird or exceptional, it was normal and necessary and I think we can all learn something from it.

Nowadays, throwing away one third of the food we buy is the norm. From 1940 – 1954 when Britain had food rationing, not a scrap of food was wasted.

Wacky cake

This week I’m sharing a fun and frugal recipe called “Wacky Cake”.

Whether it’s called ‘Wacky cake’ because it contains no butter, eggs or milk, or because it’s mixed in the baking tin itself, requiring no washing up (my kinda recipe) or whether it’s because you make holes in the dry mix to add the wet ingredients, I don’t know, but wacky cake (thanks to a first introduction from Maisie) is now another firm frugal ‘war time’ recipe favourite here at zero waste towers.


The method of mixing is amazing – you throw the dry ingredients into your baking tin, then make three holes to add the liquids. This recipe a great introduction to baking for beginners, is ideal for people with tiny kitchens without many kitchen utensils and it’s really frugal both in terms of ingredients and washing up!

The combination of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda helps the cake to rise.


1 ½ cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
3/4 cup fructose (original recipe uses 1 cup sugar)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup water


1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (we have a fan oven, so you may need to adjust the temperature)
2. Combine dry ingredients in an un greased brownie tin.
3. Make three holes in the flour mixture. In one hold add the vinegar. In another add the vanilla. In the third hole add the oil.
4. Pour one cup of water over all the ingredients and mix well.
5. Bake for 30 minutes.


Instead of cocoa, you could add chopped eating apple and cinnamon or banana and walnuts or use coffee instead of water – the possibilities are endless.


A big thumbs up for taste until Little Miss Green got hold of a chunk which hadn’t been mixed properly and ended up with a mouthful of bicarbonate of soda in her mouth; it wasn’t a pretty sight I can tell you. Fortunately she wasn’t put off for life and went on to eat several more pieces.

Mr Green was surprisingly impressed for a butter free cake as I’m prone to being rather French with my cooking; lots of butter in everything.

I think next time I’ll forget making it in the brownie tin and mix it properly in a deep mixing bowl. Also it was a bit stuck to the sides; I did question the ‘ungreased tin’ part but went with it and regretted it. It wasn’t impossible to get out, but it was more difficult than usual.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. Hi,
    Sorry I should have changed the recipe with my tweak of lining the tin.

  2. Julie Day says:

    A good and interesting recipe. I have to say that vanilla extract is better than the essence because extract is the real thing and essence is not. Jamie Oliver said this on his programme.

  3. Hazel says:

    It’ll say essence because until recently real vanilla extract was hard to get hold of, but I agree that extract is much nicer than vanillin flavouring.
    Incidentally, I make my vanilla extract: chopped vanilla pods in a small glass bottle (preferably not clear as it keeps better in the dark- I use a green bottle that had apple juice in it) topped up with vodka. Much cheaper, especially if you use a lot. You can keep topping the vodka up too.

    Great recipe- I’m going to have ago at this at the weekend.

  4. Jen says:

    Love this new recipe feature! Will try this fabulous cake tonight – perfect for the end of the week when we inevitably run out of eggs!

  5. Jen says:

    Ok, as promised I tried this recipe last night, and it was a hit. I didn’t have cocoa, so I sprinkled chocolate chips and sliced almonds on top. The only problem was that the 2 of us ate the whole pan in one evening! That’s hardly war time rationing.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: 😀 not to worry; nothing like learning from experience. I found out, to my delight, that this cake keeps really well too. There was a piece left in the tin about a week later and LMG was convinced she wasn’t going to eat it. But I popped it in a dish and I think it had IMPROVED over time – it was more moist; amazing!

    @Julie Day: thanks for clearing that up; I was never sure which was which. I just read the ingredients and buy a rather expensive but pure version in a glass bottle from our health food shop.

    @Hazel: Thanks for sharing your recipe for home made extract. I have some vanilla pods that have dried out a bit so I could make this – thanks!

    @Jen: 😀 oh dear! I found that with a recipe for magic lemon cake I made this week – it lasted about 10 minutes and LMG couldn’t get enough of it. Glad you enjoyed it – better to scoff it all down than waste it 😉

  7. Sooz says:

    Wow, I’m amazed by that wacky cake! It’s vegan too yey! I’ve never seen aything like it but I’m definately going to try it!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Sooz: enjoy Sooz and let us know what you think of it!

  9. This is what we used to call cock eyed cake when we were kids – and the instructions included the line ‘mix like fun!’ It’s a good recipe. I once tried to adapt it with lemon juice instead of vinegar for a non chocolate flavour but that really didn’t work. Not even the chickens would eat that one.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Maggie @Devon eco lodges: Hi Maggie, welcome to the site – I LOVE your eco lodges; I might be visiting (you might consider an out-of-season weekend in return for a review??) – where are you?
    I’ve never heard of it described as cock eyed cake – that’s brilliant and I love the Mix Like Fun instruction 😀

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