CULINARY CAPERS – February 2020

Evelyn Cairns

Because February is National Chocolate Month, as well as National Cherry Month, I will share one of my three favorite recipes to celebrate the occasion: a chocolate cherry cake. My two other favorites are  an intoxicatingly delicious  Bacardi rum cake and a    Jewish coffee cake with a  brown sugar  and walnut filling.

The chocolate  cake was originally published in Culinary Capers   two  years ago,  but because readers of the Southgate Star, the  Riverview Register and the Wyandotte Warrior  were not   receiving those publications at that time, I’m repeating the recipe for them and others who may have missed it.

You won’t believe how easy it is to make this one-bowl wonder, which looks and tastes awesome    when drizzled with a two-ingredient icing.  And do think about investing in a  12-cup Bundt pan if you don’t already have one. If you worry that the cake might stick, just be sure to spray the pan  well with a  spray made for baking.

In the meantime, according to my indispensable substitution chart,  a 9×15-inch  cake pan would also accommodate 12 cups of batter. The chart doesn’t provide oven temperatures and baking times, however.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • ¾ cup cooking oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir the  flour, sugar baking soda, cinnamon, salt, oil, eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Then stir  in the pie filling, chocolate chips and nuts, until combined. Pour into a 12-cup Bundt pan sprayed well with Pam for baking or Wilton Bake Easy. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out onto a  rack or plate to cool, then  drizzle with an icing made by combining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 4 to 5 teaspoons milk.

For an even-easier February chocolate-and-cherry celebration,    consider making the chocolate   cake that became popular, by necessity, during the Great Depression and topping each serving with whipped cream or Cool Whip and a spoonful of cherry pie filling. The cake is also known as Mix-in-the-Pan Cake, Crazy Cake  and Wacky Cake.  

According to Wikipedia, it  is made without butter,  milk or eggs  because those ingredients were scarce or very expensive  after the 1929 stock-market crash.   

Traditionally, the dry ingredients are placed in a cake pan and mixed with a fork before liquid ingredients are measured into three depressions made in the mixture, then stirred and baked. 

That’s how I made it the first time, but I thought the cake was quite dry, and it stuck to the bottom  of the pan. So, the next time, I combined one of my own recipes  and others I found online. Instead of adding the liquid ingredients to three depressions in a pan, I opted for  a more conventional method, which I have included, with better results.



  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons cooking oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a medium  bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the water, vanilla, vinegar and cooking oil. Stir into the dry ingredients, mixing well with a spoon, then pour into the baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes,  or until a toothpick comes out clean.   

Cut into squares and top each serving with whipped cream or Cool Whip and a spoonful of   cherry pie filling. 

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