Simple Pleasures.

Simple Pleasures.
Irish soda bread on its way up North with Noah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Easiest Cake You'll Ever Make

Here are four reasons some people don't bake cakes: They don't have time. They don't have the ingredients. They stink at baking. It's an assault on their diet.

Here's a cake that puts all of those excuses on ice. Some people call it the New York Times plum torte, because, for a long stretch, the paper published the recipe each and every September due to reader demand. My family calls it Cousin Sandy's Cake because, well, our cousin Sandy turned us onto it eons ago.

I call it the easiest cake you'll ever make is. It has only a handful of simple ingredients, which just about anyone other than maybe a fraternity bro tends to have on hand. You can use frozen fruit if you have nothing suitable in the fridge. It doesn't require an electric mixer. Heck, there's even "one" of every batter ingredient, except for the 2 eggs. So you soon won't even need to look at the recipe when you make it.

And what a treat you'll have: A crunchy cookie-like crust guards a moist, buttery interior studded with succulent fruit. What's not to love about that? With a tap of confectioner's sugar on top, it looks downright gawjus. A blob of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and you're practically Martha Stewart.

Now, just in case you're wondering why this cake won't assault your diet: It's nice and small and so utterly delicious, there won't' be a crumb left after you serve it. That means you won't spend the next week picking at it every time you walk into the kitchen. So go. Make this cake. Get happy. It's Spring!

The Easiest Cake You'll Ever Make

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspon baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

5 to 7 sliced plums, depending on size (sliced about 1/2-inch thick)
2 to 3 sliced, peeled apples (1/2-inch thick)
or my favorite….
a cup or so of fresh or frozen, rinsed blueberries (frozen cherries are good to mix in, too)

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease an 8-inch spring form cake pan. If you don't have one of those, grease an 8-inch cake pan and line bottom with a circle of parchment paper. You can use a bigger pan if you want, but the cake will be thinner and less cake-y.

Cream butter with the sugar. Add flour, baking powder, eggs, and vanilla. Dump into into pan and pat it out evenly with a damp hand.

Cover top decoratively with fruit of choice. You want enough on the cake so that the top is evenly covered with little areas of batter showing through. The fruit will sink in as cake bakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar (if you have turbinado sugar, use it. It gives the top a nice crunch). 

Bake one hour or until batter around fruit is set and the cake is lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven. Let cool for 15 minutes. Release side of spring pan. Or if using a regular pan, run a knife around edge of cake to release it from side of pan and then turn cake out and flip again so the top is showing. 

Sieve some confectioners sugar on top. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if you feel like it.

Note: Don't overdo it on the fruit or the cake will be goopy. If you keep a bag of frozen blueberries in your freezer, you will be able to make this any time, on a dime. I haven't experimented with other fruits, but feel free. I'd stay away from anything that's too watery, soft or acidic, such as strawberries and citrus.

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