Sundays With Sparky: Chemistry Cake (In Chocolate or Chocolate Chip)

I am hereby re-naming the inaptly named “Wacky Cake,” a product of WWII rationing that regained popularity in the 1970s. It is not at all wacky, but is a product of…of…SCIENCE!!! Yes,  your third-grade volcano project makes the cake fluffy, its delicate texture from only sugar, oil and flour. It does not pass muster as a breakfast food because it’s naturally vegan, containing neither eggs nor milk.  The ingredients are as basic as you can get: flour, sugar,oil,  flavoring, baking soda and vinegar.  Yes, you heard me – vinegar! It’s leavened by carbon dioxide gas released by the reaction of those last two ingredients whose molecules combine into sodium acetate, water, and CO2.


Image courtesy of

I’ve decided to do this as a photo gallery, since it’s more about method than materials.

Ingredients: Chocolate Chemistry Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar for garnish

Chocolate Chip Chemistry Cake

1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vinegar
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

(or, for microwave version using a glass loaf pan: 1/2 plus 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 3 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup water, 3 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsb vinegar, 1/2 cup chocolate chips.)

Leave a comment