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Cooking with Joy

Two Quick Takes
On Cake


By Joy Rotondi

Cakes don’t have to be saved for birthday parties or other milestone occasions. Nor do they have to be elaborate or expensive to bring their special touch to a meal. Joy Rotondi provides recipes for two quick, comfort-food cakes.
Included: Recipes for two cakes that take only 15 minutes to prepare.

Cake is comfort food, and in particular, quick and homey cakes satisfy the most. Here are two for your repertoire, one plain white cake and one that tastes like a caramel apple.

Kitchenette Cake is a simple 8-inch-by-8-inch cake that takes fewer then 10 minutes to mix and scrape into a pan. It tastes like your classic white cake, but resembles something made with Bisquick -- dense, a tad crumbly, but still immutably CAKE!

I thought it was an old Betty Crocker recipe, but couldn't find it in my 1958 cookbook reprint. I've been making this since childhood, but it had been a very long while. On a recent winters afternoon, everyone in the house had a yen for cake. So I hunted it down. Eureka! There it was, typed in the distinctive Courier font of my childhood typewriter, deep in my scrapbook of recipes.

I flavor the batter with vanilla and a splash of almond extract. But the flavoring is dependent on what youll serve along side. Thats what the cake is good for -- a foil for its sidekick -- though I have been known to eat it right from the pan.

Here are just a few ideas of how do dress it up.

  • Melt down some marmalade (or preserves) in the microwave. Pick a jar with lots of fruit chunks.
  • Cook up some fresh strawberries or raspberries with sugar, water, and a pinch of salt.
  • A la mode with chocolate sauce. Of course.
  • If youre thinking all-out decadent, make the cake a base for a Tin Roof Sundae -- top with vanilla ice cream, both caramel and hot fudge sauce, chopped salted peanuts, and a tower of whipped cream.

An Internet search for Kitchenette Cake didnt turn up much, though I did learn that it was a modernization in the mid-century of the One-Egg Cake, a specialty of the late 1800s. I was delighted by a reference to it in a listing of recipes from a 1954 church cookbook compiled by the Priscilla Guild of Trinity Lutheran Church of Manilla, Iowa. Twice I saw Kitchenette Cake topped with a lovely old-fashioned Broiled Icing, so Ive included a recipe for that here. Nothing could be easier.

If you can imagine a caramel apple transformed into a moist cake, youve previewed Apple Snacking Cake. My recipe developed from one I picked up at an apple orchard in New Jersey. That recipe was a lot more trouble and included an array of sliced apples on the top. Go for it if youre feeling ambitious.

About the Author

Joy Rotondi

Joy Rotondi recently returned to the classroom and teaches sixth-grade language arts near Boston, Massachusetts. She was raised in an Italian-American family happily obsessed with good food. Her prowess in the kitchen was first noted when she whipped lime Jello to a mousse at age 7. By age 12 she'd advanced to the salmon mousse in aspic featured on the cover of Gourmet.

On Thanksgiving Day 1996, with the help of friend and culinary cohort Cindy Blandino, she launched Foodies.com , a playful site dedicated to serious American cooking.

Foodies.com has been featured on CNN, Better Homes and Gardens , and in The Wall Street Journal, among other places. Her bread and butter for the last 11 years has been designing and maintaining Web sites for the culinary world, including restaurants, culinarians, and food marketers. Rotondi lives on Boston's North Shore with her 12-year-old, a Shetland sheepdog, and four hens.

Visit her Web site Foodies.com.

The name for it derives from everyones behavior once the cake comes out of the oven. It is impossible to resist, and everyone just keeps snacking on it. If youre lucky, however, a corner of the cake will still be around for breakfast. Its delicious with a cup of morning coffee.

Youre now armed with two easy cakes. They dont require cake flour or two round pans or frosting, cake stands, piping, rosettes, or even birthday candles. All you need is 15 minutes to get it in the oven, and a hankering for cake.

Apple Snacking Cake

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Scant 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch-square pan. Prepare apples and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in diced apples. Sift dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients to apple mixture and blend completely. Pour batter into greased pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes or until a rich brown.

Kitchenette Cake

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup soft shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring (your choice)
  • 1 large beaten egg
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch-square pan. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Add the shortening, milk, and flavoring and beat for 2 minutes. Then add the beaten egg and mix. Scrape batter into the greased pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Finish with Broiled Icing, or a topping that fits the finale to a good home-cooked meal.

Broiled Icing
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup coconut
Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the milk. Fold in coconut. Spread on warm cake and broil until golden brown.