In Which Food Poisoning Leads to The Easiest Cake Ever

Saturday was shaping up to be a busy day around here—we had a birthday party to attend in the afternoon and a wedding that night, plus Stephen needed a haircut and we had errands to run in the morning, so I had a brainstorm: For breakfast, let’s go to that diner across the street from the barber! Yeah, I knew we hardly ever went there because every time we do we’re reminded how truly mediocre/borderline terrible the food is, but it’s across the street from the barber! Stephen could run over and get his hair cut while we waited for the food to arrive! And there’d be no kitchen to clean after we ate! Thank you, I am a genius.

Eh, not so much.

I ordered a veggie frittata and it didn’t taste half bad. Not great, but not half bad. I didn’t feel compelled to keep eating it, though, which is kinda strange for me—lately I’ve been Hoovering everything in sight. At the halfway point I realized I was already feeling uncomfortably full, so I abandoned the effort and felt quite proud of myself. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)

Cut to a few hours later. I was driving us over to the birthday party when I realized I’d never even thought about lunch, never mind my usual mid-morning snack. I was still feeling, let’s say, strange in the belly area. But I shrugged it off and was secretly pleased at all the calories I’d saved. Soon enough, though, that strange feeling began to mutate into something more sinister—by the time we reached our friends’ house I was already thinking about heading home. Let’s just say I didn’t make it that far before things turned nasty.

My friends, I don’t remember the last time I puked so much, and so forcefully. I was Regan MacNeil for a while there. I did not attend that night’s wedding (sorry, M&J!).

Luckily, by Sunday morning the hurling was over and I was merely feeling woozy. I actually felt strong enough to hang out with Harry solo for a while. And of course, being my child, he asked if we could bake a cake. Empathy is, apparently, nonexistent when you’re three—no matter how many times we’d explained to him how badly I needed to rest the day before, the little sweetheart had begged for my attention [read: burst into my room and thrown a tantrum] again and again. So a combination of guilt and resignation led me to say Sure, we can bake a cake!

A quick Google of “easiest cake ever” led to multiple blog posts about the same recipe—all of which agreed that it was, in fact, the easiest cake recipe known to man. As far as I can tell, the original is from Not Derby Pie and several others have since put their own spin on it. I must agree: It is the easiest cake ever, calling for just a handful of ingredients, one bowl, and a mixing spoon. I’ve tweaked it a teeny bit, adding a hit of almond extract, and the results are shockingly good.

I’ve got one piece of advice: If your three-year-old helper suggests adding a few M&Ms to the topping, go ahead and let him—you wouldn’t want to squelch a budding chef’s creativity, would you? Just don’t eat that part. Coming across a super-sweet chocolatey candy in the midst of this relatively sophisticated, moist, fruity cake is nearly as gross as eight hours of puking.

OK, it’s not really that gross. But it sure ain’t pleasant.

The Easiest Cake Ever
Adapted from Not Derby Pie
serves 8-12

1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract
zest of 1 lemon
3 cups of fruit, any variety [I used frozen peaches and blueberries]

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9” round baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine everything but the fruit, then pour it into the prepared baking pan. Arrange the fruit on top—if you feel like getting fancy go ahead and be precise about it, but you could also just dump it in. [If you want to get really fancy, you could arrange the fruit on the bottom of the pan first, then pour the batter on top. After it’s baked and cooled, turn it out of the pan onto a plate and you’ve got something downright pretty. I did not do this.]

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. [The original recipe says 1 hour, but mine would’ve been burned to a crisp by then.] Cool in the baking pan.