Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stir-Crazy Cake

Every Sunday, after our church service, the members of our congregation gather in the basement for "Fellowship," a time to visit and get to know one another. Every week, two families bring treats for Fellowship and are in charge of making the coffee, etc. (We Lutherans are quite devoted to our coffee, you know.) This week was our first time bringing treats, so yesterday, I made a really yummy bundt cake for it. Unfortunately, the cake didn't come out of the pan in one piece, and it wasn't remotely fixable with frosting or any other means. So I made a Stir-Crazy Cake to take instead.

This is probably the tenth time I've made a Stir-Crazy Cake in the past six years. I think it was the first cake I baked after I got married -- I remember my husband found the recipe online and said it looked so odd he wanted me to try it out. And odd it is, but it is also super yummy, and the quickest, easiest from-scratch cake I've ever made. So I thought I'd share the recipe, in case you'd like to try it too. It has a crispy topping, so it doesn't require frosting. And it makes very few dirty dishes, because you mix it up in the same pan you bake it in. So here's the recipe:

Stir-Crazy Cake


2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups cold coffee
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Put flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt into an ungreased 9" x 13" metal baking pan. Stir until combined. Form 3 wells in flour mixture. Pour oil into one well, vinegar in one, and vanilla in one. Pour cold coffee over all ingredients and stir with a spoon until well mixed. Do not beat. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 35 min.

If you're like me, you'll look at the batter and think, "This is way too liquidy to be cake batter. The cinnamon-sugar stuff on top is all sinking in -- it'll never form a crispy topping. It's a funny color, and it's got little bubbles in it. And there are no eggs! How can this be a cake?" But when you take it out of the oven, you will breathe in its rich, chocolatey aroma and hardly be able to wait for it to cool before you cut yourself a slice.


  1. You gave me this recipe in that cookbook you made me for Christmas one year. It really is delish! And I love that it uses really basic ingredients so I don't have to go out and buy anything special to make it.

  2. And since you gave this recipe to me, I honestly cannot think of a cake I'd rather bake or eat. It's truly deliciously yummy in all the right ways. And me not liking chocolate, too!

  3. Hee! Obviously, this is a fave recipe of mine -- I keep sharing it! :-D

  4. Oh and help for next time? I'm actually making this cake today to take to the Thanksgiving festivities, and as usual, I completely forget about the coffee part until... well, now. So, what did you tell me to buy for us non-coffee drinkers? Some kind of instant stuff? Cuz right now, I have some old coffee and filters left over from my work (from, er... six years ago??) that for some reason I decided to keep. So I put a big filter thingy in my big noodle colander (cuz I don't own a small strainer) over a pot, and put some of the coffee grinds in there, then pour boiling water over it very slowly... and hope it works and I get something close to 1) coffee, and 2) 2 cups of it. So far it's worked, but it's awkward and I only have three more packets of coffee grinds before I run out of the old work stash.


  5. WOW. I'm totally gonna try this recipe...I love to bake, and love all things sweet, but I can't eat eggs or anything dairy, and this calls for neither one!! Do you know how rare that is?? The only thing I make that I can actually eat is my apple pie.

    Thanks so much for sharing this! :)

  6. DKoren -- yes, instant coffee exists. You'll find it in the coffee and tea aisle at your grocery store -- it'll come in a plastic or glass jar, and be made by someone like Taster's Choice (my recommendation) or Sanka or Folgers. It'll say "instant coffee" on it, and there will be directions on the package for how much to use per cup. You just stir the granules into hot water, and voila! Coffee!

    Btw, your description of using your colander and me in stitches! Very resourceful of you!

    And Ginger -- glad this recipe will work so well for you! It's definitely great at avoiding some food allergies!

  7. Okay, let me ask another question... is using instant coffee going to affect the flavor of the cake at all? Because I may not drink the stuff, but I can tell from the smell of the jury-rigged but real coffee (think I should just borrow Billy's helmet next time? LOL!) that it's good stuff. Is Instant just going to suck by comparison?

    Also -- cake was hit. :-D There was some kind of clear "death by dark chocolate" cake and I think 5 pies of various flavors, but the adults who didn't want frosting or a too-sweet/rich dessert went for the Stir-Crazy cake. Yum!

  8. I've made it with percolated coffee, instant coffee, and French press coffee, and never noticed a difference in the cake. The coffee flavor gets so mixed up with the chocolate and other stuff that it shouldn't be a problem.

    If all else fails, buy a little trial-size thing of coffee (you have a pretty big grocery store, so they probably have small jars) or even the little Taster's Choice single-use instant coffee packets (red box is regular, green box is decaf) and make a cake for yourself to taste-test it.

  9. Ooh, I'm going to have to try that recipe.


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