This is a Pennsylvania Dutch treat which just happens to be vegan. My sister called a week before Thanksgiving to see if I had the recipe. I sent it to her so she could make one for Thanksgiving with my brother and his family and some of his wife's family. To the best of my knowledge, everyone there would be leaning strongly to the carnivorous side. I suggested to my sister that when she unveiled the cake, she should let everyone know it's vegan, (explain vegan if necessary,) and say she got the recipe from her Left Coast, nuts-n-flakes, Birkenstock-wearing sister. After the stunned silence was broken, she could add that I got the recipe from our aunt who actually lives in central Pennsylvania, near PA Dutch country.
Warning: it is tactful to tell people beforehand that the cake is not chocolate. It looks like chocolate, and sometimes people spit because the molasses flavor is so different from what they expected. It's messy. On the other hand, the cake itself is the easiest cake recipe on the planet. I love it!
Recipe was expanded for my sister's benefit, although she still missed the reserving crumbs for the topping step. She doesn't cook much.
Shoo Fly Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In bowl #1 (medium or large) mix
2-1/2 cups of boiling water,
1 cup of molasses, and
1 Tablespoon of baking SODA.
This will froth up when the soda hits the molasses, so be sure there is room in the bowl.
In bowl #2 (large bowl) mix
4 cups of flour,
1 lb dark brown sugar,
½ teaspoon salt, and
¾ cup cooking oil.
Use your hands to mix this up until crumbly. Reserve one cup of crumbs in a (smaller) bowl for topping (I probably reserve more than a cup because I grab a couple of large handfuls).
Mix together the contents of bowl #1 and bowl #2 so the final mix is fairly smooth. Pour the batter into an ungreased (why I really love this recipe!) 13x9 in^2 (sheet cake) pan. Top with the reserved crumbs. Bake for ~45 minutes at 350F.