Wacky Cake (from The New York Times, sometime in the early 1990s...)
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
⅔ cup vegetable oil
2 cups cold water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a 9-by-13-inch cake pan [I do ours in a 9x9 or 10x10 metal pan], mix all dry ingredients with a fork; be sure to get in the edges. Smooth them out and make three holes. Put the vinegar in one hole, the vanilla in another and the oil in the third. Then cover the whole thing with the water. Mix it all up with a fork until the lumps are gone.
3. Bake 40 or 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
And some autumnal treats from Baking for Britain, one of my favorite baking blogs, inspired by the 30-pound box of apples in my kitchen (next to the 30-pound box of Bosc pears, to be canned and poached, and the 10 pounds of Oxheart plums -- and yes, they do look like bloody hearts):
Welsh Harvest Cake (Teisen y Cynhaeaf), best served warm
Apple Gingerbread with Cinnamon Icing
Herefordshire Cider Cake
Dorset Apple Cake
The pears, and all this talk of chocolate, remind me that it might be time for Laurie Colwin's chocolate pear pudding recipe, which she originally found in Josceline Dimbleby's Book of Puddings, Desserts and Savouries (out of print but still sounding delightfully English and onm the verge of made-up), "a treasured text now falling apart. ... The recipes are uncomplicated and delicious." The recipe as Laurie Colwin wrote it up in More Home Cooking,
You peel, core, and slice think (or cut into chunks) 1 pound of pears, which you arrange on the bottom of a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with sugar, and dot with about 2 tablespoons of butter. You then mix together ¾ cup floor, 1 generous tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, a scant ¾ cup dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Lyle's Golden Syrup (now generally available), 1 large egg, beaten, 4 tablespoons melted butter, and ¼ cup milk and beat it all into a batter. The whole performance takes about 20 minutes. Pour the batter on top of the pears and bake the pudding for 45 to 50 minutes in a 325 F. oven. This pudding can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature and is especially good with ice cream.Look what I just found: two of my very favorite things together, Laurie Colwin on Chocolate.