photo by fooey
DEAR SARA: When I was young, my mother used to bake Depression Chocolate Cake. Mom remembers making it, but not the amounts or the exact ingredients. It was my grandma’s recipe and didn’t have any eggs or butter. Instead, it used vinegar and baking soda to rise. I think the ingredients were baking soda, vinegar, flour, cocoa, salt and oil. It may have originally been from the “Great Canadian Cookbook.” I loved that book. It gave instructions on how to butcher a cow or chicken and then cook it, from farmyard to the table. But back to cake, do you have this recipe? I remember the cake being chocolate-y and moist and very delicious! A great cake for hard times. — Kitty, Canada
DEAR KITTY: Try this chocolate-cake recipe. Maybe fellow readers will share their Depression Cake recipes, too. If I get a wide variety, I’ll feature them in an upcoming column.
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cold water
Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt in ungreased 9-by-13-inch pan. Make three depressions. Into one, pour the oil; into the second, pour the vinegar; into the third, pour the vanilla. Pour the cold water over all, and mix very well with a fork until completely combined. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour (test with toothpick). Also makes awesome cupcakes! Just mix it all up in a bowl, and make about 26 cupcakes. Bake 20 minutes. — Cathy, Idaho
DEAR SARA: Do you have a recipe for do-it-yourself granite cleaner? I’d like to stop paying $5 per bottle for the commercial stuff. I’ve read that vinegar will eat into the stone, so I can’t use my regular all-purpose cleaner, and haven’t been able to find anything online. — Sage, Connecticut
DEAR SAGE: I’d use a microfiber cloth and warm water or Dawn dish liquid mixed with warm water on a sponge or dish cloth. Rinse the cloth with water, wring it out, and wipe the counters. Then dry with a soft cotton/flannel cloth. But don’t use excessive soap or you’ll get buildup. Wipe up spills as soon as possible, too. I’d stick with your recommended granite cleaner, and alternate for occasional cleaning.
DEAR SARA: Do you know whether yeast will stay active longer than the expiration date if stored in the deep freezer? — Erika, Florida
DEAR ERIKA: Yes, it will last past the expiration date if frozen. I forgot I had yeast in the freezer, and it was still good after a couple of years. Some yeast is dead before the expiration date, so proof it before using it. Use a 1-cup glass liquid measuring cup. Place 1/2 cup warm water (around 110 F and not higher than 115 F) and 1 teaspoon sugar into the measuring cup. Mix to dissolve sugar. Add 2-1/4 teaspoons yeast. Stir lightly to mix. Wait for a few minutes (up to 10 minutes). The mixture should be up to the 1/2-cup line and foaming/bubbling if the yeast is active.