Oh, my. I hardly know what to say. When I sent that last post out into the Internet, I knew you’d be kind, but I never could have predicted you’d be that kind, or that the next morning, reading your messages, I’d have tears in my eyes learning about your friends who are young, or with children, or well into their middle age with very controlled symptoms, one still embracing a huge passion for food, or that several days later, I’d be sitting at my computer screen and wondering how in the world to thank you people, who not only encouraged me SO MUCH this week but who do that, regularly, like habit, here.
So here is what I think: Even if I had every one of you that commented on that last post over for dinner, one at a time, a meal just for you, and we sat and talked, and ate, until we were past full, feeling happy, it still wouldn’t be enough to thank you. I could bake you cookies and bring them to your doorstep.
I could hug you, tight, until you could barely breathe. None of it would be enough. So, like I am doing all the time with you, I’m just going to say thank you. Thank you. And bring you something.
This cake, special as it is, still isn’t enough; I know that. But it’s something, and it’s what I have — kind of like that box of bath soap I bought for $3.00 at Walgreens one time when I was a kid, after my mom had given me some money and I knew her birthday was coming, and I wanted to be like the grown-ups and give something. So I sneaked to the counter when she wasn’t looking, and I bought the box with the money she had given me, and when I gave it to her later, she said how nice it was, which in a lot of ways, was her giving to me again.
You guys are like her in that way — you say such kind things, and you tell me your stories, outgiving me again and again, and I here I am, offering my box of bath soap. At least in this case, the bath soap is really, really good bath soap.
It’s like the spa-quality bottles instead of the drugstore box. And, best part is, unlike a lot of recipes, this one could not be simpler to make, almost as easy as my showing up at your door, only with more satisfaction.
Making this took ten minutes — maybe five? You use one bowl and don’t even need an electric mixer. The strawberries, which I halved, can be simply washed and plopped on top of the batter in a round pan, and then you just throw it all in the oven and walk away.
You could even use a different berry like blueberry or raspberry or, go totally crazy and use a peach or a plum or something. It’s called the Easiest Cake Ever (which, yes, is exactly what caught my attention in the first place) and it emerges from the oven looking so pretty and impressive, no one would ever guess the meager work involved.
This is a cake that gets a solid crust. This is a cake where the bits of batter around the berries turn barely pink as they meld with the berry juices in the oven. This is the cake that you will feed someone, saying, oh, it was no big deal, and they’ll ask what in the world is in this and how did you make it and WOW. (True story.)
Anyway, I know it’s just a cake, but it’s offered with a lot of appreciation, a lot of joy, a lot of love. For you, you, you. Thank you again.
Easiest Cake Ever
Adapted from Everybody Loves Sandwiches
First note: I used some frozen unsweetened strawberries to complete the amount required, which might account for why my berries stayed so intact throughout baking. Do you buy unsweetened frozen berries? They’re amazing.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 c strawberries (or any soft fruit, sliced to look pretty)
1 Tablespoon raw sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a cake pan (8- or 9-inch).
In a big bowl, mix up the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil, and stir some more.
Pour this batter, which will be pretty thick, into the buttered/floured cake pan; use a spoon or spatula to smooth out the top. Drop in berries, arranging them as you like, and giving them a gentle pressing into the cake.
Sprinkle raw sugar all over the top. Stick in the oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.