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Too Many Cooks

Vegan brownies remind reader of hard time cake

The recipe for vegan brownies which recently appeared on the front page of the Food section reminded a Spokane reader of something her mother-in-law called Hard Time Cake.

According to the reader, who wanted to share the recipe but not her name, Hard Time Cake was created during World War II when eggs, milk, butter and other staples were rationed.

“I've made it numerous times, especially when our kids were young and money was in short supply,” she wrote in an email to Too Many Cooks.

Here’s the recipe:

Hard Time Cake

3 cups water, divided

1 cup oil

1 cup raisins

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa (heaping)

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cups nuts (optional)

Boil 2 cups water, oil and raisins in a saucepan on the stove for 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup water, sugar and cocoa. Then add the mixture to the cooled raisin mixture. Sift, then add, the following ingredients to the batter: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Mix in vanilla, and add nuts, if desired.

Bake the batter in a 9-by-13-inch pan for 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Note: The cake is very moist and requires no frosting. But chocolate frosting pairs well with it as does a generous sprinkling of chocolate chips on top before putting it in the oven.


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We never really believed that old cliché anyway. We're collaborating to share our cooking inspirations, favorite recipes, restaurant finds and other musings from the local food world and beyond.

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Adriana Janovich writes for and edits the Wednesday food section.

Carolyn Lamberson Features Editor for The Spokesman-Review. She's a foodie who has no time to cook. Still, a girl can dream ...

Ruth Reynolds is a copy editor at the SR. "I would bake and cook more than I do if I didn't have to keep cleaning off my kitchen counters. My favorite kitchen appliance is my rice cooker. No. My immersion blender."

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