This is the world's simplest, and quite possibly cheapest, chocolate cake. It always gets rave reviews, and the recipe is nigh on indestructible. It takes me less than 5 minutes to throw together when I do it on my own. My nephew and I have made it together since he was 2 years 10 months old (which takes a little longer). Even with his "measuring" (i.e. some strange sized tablespoonfuls, teaspoons and cup measures) it still works every time.
It's also vegan- so you can cook it for your vegan cousin***. It can be doubled in quantity (with a longer cooking time). We make a cake on similar principles almost every day at yoga plus for guests (but quadruple the quantity). I'll post that exact recipe later.
Sift* dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
1 1/2 c flour (that's 250ml cups, although see above for this recipe's indestructibility)
1 c sugar
2 T baking cocoa (or regular cocoa)
1 teaspoon mixed spice and 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or when you run out of either of these 2 teaspoons of a combination of mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger - they all work fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Add to the bowl
1/2 cup soybean, corn, canola or other vegetable oil. I wouldn't use olive, but you could.
2 teaspoons white vinegar (hmm sometimes I add a bit more- I misread this as tablespoons for a long time and the cake still worked out well....)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence.
3/4 cup water.
Mix ingredients together. Don't overmix**.
Spoon or pour into a greased and lined tin.
It can be a ring tin (but who wants to line a ring tin?) I mostly use a 20cm square tin, and put a sheet of baking parchment which I fold at the corners.
Bake 30-40 minutes at 190celcius / 375farenheit. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before removing.
Let cool, and then ice with chocolate icing. Although if you ice it slightly warm (3 year olds aren't that patient) the icing kind of sets into the cake, which is yummy in itself, particularly for dessert.
Serve as a cake or dessert, with whipped cream or ice cream if you have no regard for calories. Or get creative and decorate with lollies, coconut, blueberries, candy mushrooms. Give your inner three year old full rein.
Enjoy! And let me know if you make it.
*If you don't have a sieve, or can't be bothered washing it then whisk dry ingredients with a large whisk - much easier and pretty much as effective as a sieve, although you may need to squash cocoa and baking soda lumps with the back of a spoon. I got this trick from Graham Kerr, and I've barely used a sieve since.
** It's important not to overmix cakes and muffins, as it makes them tough and texturally less appealing. Just mix till all the flour is damp and it's combined - no need to beat the batter. However, I do not hold with the theory that lumps of flour in a cake are OK. They are not!
***Hi to Dan and to his vegan cousin. I was prompted to post this particular recipe after talking to Dan at the Court Theatre. See Court Jesters for information on Scared Scriptless, a really cool and fun improv show in Christchurch featuring Dan and other people, many of whom are also called Dan. In fact most men in their 20s in Christchurch are called Dan (Dan Carter is but the most famous example).