There is a recipe from Paul’s side of the family called Crazy Cake. It is not actually called Crazy Cake, but it’s something similar to that, and I am genuinely concerned about the likelihood of someone from his family Googling it. They all seem to think it ought to be called Jesus Cake, and could be checking to see if the President has yet answered their petition to make a whole national holiday in honor of it. Plus, I enjoy the crazycakes association here.
My mother-in-law passed the recipe to me proudly when I married Paul; I tactfully refrained from mentioning I’d already made it for him three times in the two and a half years we’d been dating and living together. I still have to make it once a year for Paul’s birthday, and I consider it an enormous act of sacrificial love. It’s funny how one’s OWN handed-down family recipes carry generations of meaning, tying us to our ancestors through simple rituals—whereas the family recipes of one’s greatly-disliked in-laws are a burden and also stupid.
Paul’s family likes to say EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY MAKE THE CAKE, “If it was any more moist, it’d be pudding! HAR HAR HAR!!” First of all, GROSS. Secondly, please imagine the pleasure involved in removing a circle of almost-pudding from a cake pan. Every year I grimly use the Crisco and the flour, or the Pam baking spray, or the WD-40, or whatever I think MIGHT make the cake came out of the pan without breaking, and every year I end up patching with frosting AGAIN.
I had to recopy the recipe onto another card because my mother-in-law’s version was so excruciatingly annoying. When I first made the recipe, I was working in a bakery. I was pretty sure that “IMPORTANT: Beat EXACTLY 2 minutes BY THE CLOCK!!” was not a legit instruction. I removed about five such instructions, which left me with “Mix everything together. Bake 350 for 35-45 min.” These modifications caused no change in the resulting cake, confirming my opinion that my mother-in-law had a greatly inflated idea of her own special cooking skillz.
I have over the years become accustomed to the taste of the cake, so that I can now eat a piece for celebration’s sake and not mind it. I gradually increased the cocoa from 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) which helped some, as the chocolate cake now has a chocolate flavor instead of just a chocolate color. The frosting is still a struggle: it’s so greasy it soaks into the cake. At least it’s BUTTER grease: I would have expected it to use Crisco.
I once asked why it was called Crazy Cake. It turns out it’s because the CAKE is chocolate, but the FROSTING is white!! Get it? GET IT? Me neither. I guess a few generations back it was pretty wild.
You may have the recipe if you want it. I don’t see why you would, though, considering how excellent cake mixes are. I often convert recipes to grams and ml and so forth, but I don’t have the heart for it with a recipe I don’t even recommend you make—and surely all of you have the same access to Google I do. Put “1 cup in ml” or “1 cup in grams” or “1 teaspoon in ml” in the search field and it will convert it for you. “T.” is tablespoon; “t.” is teaspoon; “c.” is cup.
2-2/3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 T. vinegar
2 T. fake vanilla
2 c. cold water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two round cake pans. Mix all the ingredients together; beat on high for about two minutes. Bake 35-45 minutes. Cake is done when you can say that if it were any more moist it would be pudding, or when a toothpick to the center comes out clean.
Crazy Cake Frosting
1 c. milk
5 T. flour
1 c. (2 sticks) softened butter
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
In a small saucepan, combine and heat milk and flour, stirring constantly over medium heat until it thickens creepily and is basically smooth. Cool completely.
In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat for two minutes. Add the flour/milk mixture which is now thickly skinned-over and congealed and gross, and beat for another two minutes, or longer if the pieces of milk-flour skin haven’t yet blended in (but you might have to pick some of the stubborn ones out). Add vanilla.
I changed the cake recipe from “vanilla” to “fake vanilla,” because NO recipe should use a full ounce of vanilla when vanilla is so expensive, if you CAN’T EVEN TASTE IT. For the frosting I usually use the real vanilla.
Also, notice this is an egg-free cake recipe. The first time I made it, I thought that must be a mistake. And maybe it IS a mistake, who knows. But it DOES make it a nice recipe for someone with egg allergies, especially if they make a different frosting.