Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chocolate Wacki Cake - A Family Tradition

When my friend Gloria mentioned to me that her son Michael had asked her to make a Wacki Cake for his upcoming birthday, I was intrigued. What is a Wacki Cake? When I asked her to tell me, Gloria started listing the ingredients. But, somewhere between the six tablespoons of cocoa and the two tablespoons of vinegar (the wacki part), she took a detour and began to tell the story of the origins of the cake.

When Gloria was about eight years old she would walk to school every day with her friend, Betsy. One morning, when Gloria went to Betsy's house before school, Betsy's mother was wrapping a piece of cake for Betsy's lunch bag.  When Gloria asked her mom what kind of cake was going to be Betsy's dessert that day, Mrs. Thatcher said, "oh, that's wacki cake" then sliced and wrapped a piece for Gloria.  Gloria loved the cake, and begged her mother to get the recipe, which she did. Wacki Cake then became a favorite family tradition, which Gloria passed along to her own children, Lauren and Michael.
Gloria has baked many a Wacki Cake over the years, occasionally substituting chocolate whipped cream frosting for the original vanilla, but always stayed true to the cake recipe.

Gloria's story really got me thinking about my own childhood favorites. As an adult looking back, I think that those home-baked treats we loved as children had little to do with how they tasted, and much more to do with the memories that surrounded them.

All these years later, I can almost taste my mother's egg bread right out of the oven, almost too hot to eat, slathered with butter and my mother warning us to "let the bread cool before you slice it"  -- which of course we ignored. 
So the next time your children ask you to make a special cake, remember . . . you're not just baking a cake -- you're baking a memory. Just ask Gloria's son Michael, now 29 years old.

Submitted by Sharon


For the cake:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
10 tbsp. shortening
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 cups cold water
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°
Grease & flour a 13" x 9" pan

Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl of electric mixer.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.

For the icing:

1 cup milk
2 (heaping) tbsp. flour
1 stick butter (at room temperature)
½ cup crisco
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a small saucepan combine milk and flour over medium heat until thickened slightly.  Cool completely.

Beat together butter & crisco.  Gradually add sugar and beat until well combined.  Add vanilla and cooled flour mixture until just combined.


  1. What is the vinegar like in the cake? It must give it a nice bite!

  2. Hi Rose, according to Sharon, you don't taste the vinegar. It reacts with the baking soda to act as a leavener.