Keeping my ingredients simple is one way that I can keep my budget low. That is especially true of baking. I do not utilize expensive ingredients very often and try to rely on pantry staples as keeping your pantry stocked with staples is another way to save big time.
My favorite cake is one that is made with pantry staples. This recipe can be found in slightly different variations, some with ingredients to mix in such as almonds, cherries, or orange zest. But however you make it you are left with a moist yet dense, chocolaty cake that is delicious on its own or with frosting. This is actually the cake I made for the kid's first birthday topped with a cream cheese frosting. My version is not sweet enough for a lot of people but I think the sugar level is just right (and plus it saves money by cutting it down!). Feel free to add a little more sugar in if you like, though.
Pantry Chocolate Cake
1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sucanat
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vinegar (can use white or balsamic)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1. Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined.*
2. Pour into ungreased 8x8 pan.
3. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean or cake just starts to pull away from the edges. DO NOT overcook it as it will come out dry.
* You can also just mix this straight in the pan but I do a much better job of combining the ingredients if I use another bowl.
I included this recipe in the GCC recipe swap.