We can’t deny that we are in a depression era due to the Coronavirus. Many of us are under quarantine, or have our movements restricted. Food and groceries are harder to come by; we must be conservative on how we use our resources.
One thing I find it hard to give up is chocolate treats. I mean, in this depressive era, we can definitely do with anti-depressive foods like cacao to boost our mood. This Great Depression Chocolate Cake is proof that you can have your cake and eat it too despite the dire circumstances. A spin on the Depression Chocolate Cake (also known as Wacky Cake or War Cake) that emerged from the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a cake made with the most basic ingredients – flour, sugar, water, and cacao powder. No milk, oil (or butter), or other ingredients that are harder to come by.
In this vegan and gluten free version, the flour used is almond flour, a mix of maple syrup and coconut sugar for sweetening, cacao powder (and no chocolate because chocolate is a splurge), and a mix of milled chia and flax seeds for binding. Of course there are some tricks for stretching the most out of the ingredients, like blooming the cacao powder in hot liquid (coffee or dandelion coffee is highly recommended for synergising the flavour of cacao) first.
Despite the simplicity, the final product is supremely dark and rich, and will do its job of satisfying your bitter chocolate tooth. The recipe makes a very tender and moist brownie-like cake. It is excellent on its own unadorned, perfect for frugal times.
Tips for making Great Depression Chocolate Cake
- Bloom the cacao powder in hot liquid first. This helps to draw out the oils and volatile components from the cacao and make the final product taste fuller and richer. I recommend using regular coffee or dandelion coffee for caffeine-free. Hot water will also work in a pinch.
- Allow the chia-flax egg to sit for at least 15 minutes to thicken. I find that the longer you let it thicken, the better final outcome. You can also prepare the wet ingredients and place it overnight in the refrigerator, just like making chia pudding.
- The final batter will be very thick like a pudding, but do not be tempted to add more water or liquid.
- The recipe makes a very tender and moist brownie-like cake. If you like it more chewy or firm, you could try adding some arrowroot starch or coconut flour.
- 150 g hot liquid of choice - coffee, dandelion 'coffee', or filtered water
- 27.5 g (5 tbsp) cacao powder
- 12 g (2 tbsp) chia seed powder
- 6 g (1 tbsp) golden flax seed powder
- 48 g (3 tbsp) maple syrup
- 4 g (1 1/3 tsp) vanilla extract
- 200 g (2 cups) activated almond flour
- 52 g coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
Bloom the cacao powder in hot liquid of choice (coffee, dandelion coffee, or water). This helps to draw out the oils and volatile components from the cacao and make the final product taste fuller and richer. In a bowl or cup, place the cacao powder and pour the hot liquid over. Mix well and set aside for10 minutes.
Make the chia-flax egg. To the cacao mixture, add the chia powder, flax powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix well, and set aside for 10 minutes or even overnight in the fridge. I find that the longer you let it thicken, the better final outcome.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well until evenly distributed.
Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well until evenly distributed. The final batter will be very thick like a pudding, but do not be tempted to add more water or liquid.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
Line two 5-inch round pans with parchment paper. Divide the batter equally into the two pans.
Place the pans in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature. This brownie-like cake is delicious plain, but you can apply your favourite frosting if preferred.
Looking for more brownie recipes? Check out my:
Great Depression Chocolate Cake (Vegan, Gluten Free)
A chocolate cake for tough times made with minimal ingredients. Supremely soft and moist, based on almond, milled chia, and flax seed. Gluten free, oil free, vegan, and paleo.
For the Wet Ingredients
For the Dry Ingredients
Bake the Cake
The recipe makes a very tender and moist brownie-like cake. If you like it more chewy or firm, you could try adding some arrowroot starch or coconut flour.