In most emergencies, you should call 911. But unexpected vegans, forgotten birthdays, or a new lover you’ve just addressed by an old lover’s name—these are cake emergencies, and what you need is this fast, chocolatey, and slightly updated recipe for mix-in-the-pan Cockeyed Cake. It’s from Peg Bracken’s 1960 feminist emergency manual, The I Hate to Cook Book.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a greased 9-inch-square cake pan, whisk together 1½ cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 3 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp salt. Over the dry ingredients, pour 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 cup cold water. Mix until batter is nearly smooth. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
If chocolate alone won’t heal injured feelings, you can replace the water with cold coffee or Earl Grey tea, or add ½ tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients.