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
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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.
This Post Has 12 Comments
This cake looks really good and quite impressive given how you were feeling too. Can't wait to try it!
The first thing I said when I saw the pic is, you talked to my mother-in-law! She makes this same cake – or a very similar-looking facsimile thereof, sans the "fancy" almond extract or lemon zest – all summer long. Jonah cries when there's no more left.
Oh, man! I'm so sorry to hear about the tummy troubles. There is a pretty good "busy-day cake" recipe in my old checkerboard Better Homes and Gardens cookbook someone gave me when I got married.
oh no! I'm so sorry about the food poisoning. I once got it from a vegetable pasta dish. Miserable. The cake looks great and it's nice to have an "easiest recipe ever" tucked away for use!
I am sorry about that tummy problem of yours. It caused so much to you. About the cake, it looks good and I was quite impressed about it. Easiest cake ever, that is.
Aww man, sorry for the poisening, haha i love the cake though!
Oof, sorry about the food poisoning. But the cake was awesome–I made it with two containers of frozen peaches I stored away after buying 5 pounds of peaches in season, too many to eat fresh. I did have to bake it for longer; an hour was fine. And there's no way it served 8-12–my five-person gathering inhaled it.
(longtime reader, first-time commenter)
Just realized I never stopped by to thank you all for commiserating on my ailment! Your good thoughts are much appreciated.
And Lark, thanks for finally commenting! I'm pretty sure I managed to get 8 pieces out of my cake, but that's because I was the only one eating it (!!!) and I didn't want to go overboard. 2 pieces/day x 4 days seemed perfectly reasonable 😉
Oh god, that sounds awful, just awful. I have a friend who almost died of food poisoning. But I'm glad the cake turned out so well (and your 3-year-old got to contribute a secret ingredient to it!)
Debbie, I'm sorry to hear you were sick! Yuck. But that cake is worth it. It's beautiful and I love how simple and easy it is. Definitely bookmarking this post! It reminds me of a summer fruit cake that a friend sent to me – I think it was in O magazine this past summer.
Wow– I wish I came up with stuff like that right after being sick. I'm not sure I would have even gotten out of bed, and the cake would have definitely come from a bakery. But this looks both beautiful and delicious. Hard to believe that it's easy, too.
I'm with Alisabow, I'm impressed that you were up and making cake so soon after your run-in with food poisoning. I'm hoping that the haircut was a good one!