Farm Life, Food

Wacky Cake Bars & Basketball

Wacky Cake Bars
If you ate school lunch back in the day, when school lunch cooks could bake a bit more than they have the freedom to now… you may have been served “Wacky Cake”. This cake was a classic Depression era standby when wartime rationing made simple ingredients like eggs, butter and milk difficult to obtain.
When I’m strapped for time and need to take a dish to a gathering, this is a pretty popular selection. I make this same recipe in a 9×13 pan, and the cake is thicker. When I make bars in a 12×17 sheet pan, the recipe stretches further which is nice. I always have all of the ingredients in my pantry which makes this a go-to recipe.

The icing that tops the bars was typically a water/powdered sugar mix, but I like to add butter and substitute milk for the water to make it a little richer. Depending on the time of year, your measuring skills and so on, you may have to adjust the amount of liquid in a frosting recipe to achieve your desired consistency. If it is too stiff, add more liquid. Not stiff enough, add more powdered sugar. It’ll still taste delightful, I promise. Remember, you can always add moisture, but you can’t take it away.
Photo credit: Sherrylynn Photo
This is the perfect celebration cake, and we are celebrating an 11-0 undefeated basketball season for my daughter this year. I was lucky enough to coach her, and her new friends through this season. Coaching basketball is something I never imagined I’d do (hello, softball) but I’ve really enjoyed it. I hope to remember how much fun these kids had, just playing the game. My daughter promptly celebrated the end of her basketball season by coming home and practicing trick shots on the hoop in our driveway and running back and forth to the barn to deliver new baby pigs.
I posted this image on my blog Facebook page today, tipping my hat to farm families who seem to strike the perfect balance of sports, activities, family and farming with their kids. It seems impossible most days to figure this puzzle out. I’ll always be happy for a kid who is content drying newborn piglets off and helping them nurse at the end of a weekend pushing a basketball up the court or throwing a softball around the field. If I had to guess, I think she likes the simplicity and quiet experiences in the barn.

Just like I do.

Wacky Cake Bars:

By: Cristen
Author: Cristen


For the Bars:

  • 3 cups  all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp  baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups hot water or hot coffee

For The Icing:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


For the Cake:|

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add oil, vinegar and vanilla. Pour hot water or hot coffee over the top, whisk well until smooth. Pour in greased 12x17 sheet pan. Bake for 18-23 minutes until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven, let cool at least 30 minutes before icing.

For the Icing:

  • Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. If too dry, add a tiny bit more milk, if too loose, add a bit more powdered sugar.
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