by Caroline

Five years ago today, in honor of her milestone birthday, I organized a virtual birthday celebration for my sister by having her many friends post birthday cake pictures on their blogs.

This year, with fewer of us blogging and more of us on Facebook, her friend Becca and I organized a somewhat different celebration of the day. But here I am, still blogging, and still with cake-baking energy, so in her honor I want to post the recipe for the first cake we ever baked together. It’s known by many names — Crazy Cake, Cockeyed Cake, 6-Minute Cake — but no matter what you call it, it’s always delicious. I usually make it now with revisions Libby first suggested to me — adding espresso powder and chocolate chips; using raspberry vinegar for the white vinegar — but whether you use those variations or not, the result is always surprisingly chocolate-y and rich. It happens also to be vegan, which is often convenient these days.

So for Libby on her birthday:

1 1/2 c white flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp espresso powder (optional but good)
1/2 tsp salt

1 c water or coffee
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp vinegar (any old vinegar will do, but red wine or raspberry is particularly nice)

1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips (optional, but what’s not better with some chocolate chips?)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine the dry ingredients in an ungreased 8″ square or 9″ round baking pan. In a 2-cup measure, combine the water, oil and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork until smooth (make sure to get into the corners so that you don’t get dry floury bites in the finished cake!). Now add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter from the baking soda and vinegar reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

Alternatively, line a cupcake pan with liners, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then carry on with the directions as above.

Bake a single cake for 25 minutes, bake cupcakes for 15, cool briefly on a rack, and enjoy.