Good Neighbor Cake

What’s in a name? Does a good neighbor bring you a cake? Or do you bring someone a cake to be a good neighbor? Either way, this cake is simple and scrummy. It’s a family recipe, from my mother’s aunt Fern. As previously stated I’m not that great of a baker, but you can’t ignore your family heritage! This is my go-to cake for a birthday or special occasion. I especially love the dark chocolate flavor, and the cake stays nice and moist for up to a few days, if it lasts that long! As a final note, this is just a half recipe, if you want to use a rectangular 9×13 cake pan (3.5 liter for my metric friends) just double the ingredients.


  • 1 cup (155 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or other light vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water


Pre-heat oven to 177ºC/350ºF and grease and flour a square cake pan. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. I use a whisk to make sure everything’s thoroughly mixed. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, and vanilla extract until you achieve a smooth mixture. Pour the egg mixture and boiling water into the dry ingredients and stir together just enough until the mixture is uniform. Pour into the cake pan and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve cake dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar) or with whipped cream. Or ice cream. Or eat it furtively in the kitchen when no one is looking. Ahem.

Vegan variation: Increase baking powder to 1/2 tsp  in the dry ingredients and substitute the egg for one very ripe banana. Whisk (or even better, use a hand blender) together the banana, oil and vanilla until you achieve a smooth mixture, almost like an emulsion. Proceed as instructed above.

Servings: Nine squares. 204 calories per square.



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