Chocolate dump cake, when no cake is not an option

OK, you're stuck at home but not hungry. That's good. But what to do about the screaming for dessert?

Published January 4, 2011 9:01PM (EST)

 (Vikram Raghuvanshi)
(Vikram Raghuvanshi)

Have you ever been to the supermarket when a snowstorm is predicted? They may only be predicting 3 to 4 inches but the store will be full of people elbow to elbow. The checkout lines take a sharp turn like an L, blocking the carts that are trying to weave their way up and down the aisles. When I was a teen we were shown a driving school video. Ms. Walker was friendly and waved to passersby, while Ms. Wheeler was angry and accusatory. The goal was to teach us to stay relaxed while driving (and supposedly to refrain from giving the finger to passing cars). To that cast we've got to add Ms. Emergency Shopper, she of the sharp elbows and crash course cart-wielding skills. She leaves Ms. Wheeler in the dust.

Braver souls than I may venture out, but when push comes to shove -- and I mean literally -- I opt to stay home by the fire. But what to do if an occasion arises, it's your son's birthday and a cake must be baked!

The biggest convenience of Chocolate Dump Cake is that the ingredients are always on hand -- as long as you bake on occasion. Second best is that you can mix it in one pan and bake it, no mixing bowl necessary. Finally, it serves vegans and people who are lactose- or egg-intolerant.

My mom always called it Dump Cake. I have also heard it referred to as Depression Cake, probably because it's light on the budget. I suppose it also would have been popular during World War II when food was rationed.

Chocolate Dump Cake


For cake

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup water or brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (any kind that's light)

For glaze

  • ¾ cup confectioner's sugar
  • ¼ cup water, coffee or possibly cream sherry
  • vanilla or flavoring of choice, to taste


For cake

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Into 8-inch pan mix together: flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking soda.
  3. Make a puddle in the dry mixture and add: oil, vanilla and water or coffee. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add vinegar and stir until you see even swirls in the batter. The vinegar starts the reaction that helps the cake rise.
  5. Bake for 24-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For glaze

  1. Mix together ingredients.
  2. When cake is ready, invert onto cooling rack. When slightly cooled, place on serving plate, poke holes in the cake with a toothpick and then brush on glaze.

By Meg Whitlock

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