You can have your cake...

We are on the brink: the relaxed demeanour that guides most of us through the summer is about to end.

Soon, we will be back in the hustle and bustle of school and schedules. We need to have rewards when life is this busy. Easily attainable rewards...

Never fear, dear reader; I’m here for you this week with a simple treat.

This recipe is so easy one can use the expression, “it’s a piece of cake," or even “it takes the cake."

Actually, you can take the cake because that’s what you’re going to bake — in 20 minutes, on the stove.

“What?" you say.

“How can that be possible?” 

I can confidently tell you that after a summer of testing I can provide you with a recipe that will bring you back to the carefree days of Easy-Bake ovens, with a result that tastes as good as we imagined back in those days.

(I never thought the actual product was that great, except as a vehicle to carry icing to my mouth.)

But first let me tell you some interesting food history that will allow you to properly revere this dessert:

  • Did you know that cakes have been used to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries since the times of ancient Greece? They made cakes to honour not only humans but their gods. One of the most famous was Artemis, the goddess of the moon. A sweet round cake with honey was baked in her honour once a month. 
  • It was in 13th century Germany that the modern birthday cake became a custom, at first during a festival for children. Candles were put on top symbolizing “the light of life," one for each year of the child’s life.
  • The expression of a task being “a cakewalk” or “a piece of cake," or easy, comes from social parties in 19th century America, when African-American slaves or freedmen would walk in pairs around a cake in competition. The pair deemed the most graceful would win the cake as a prize. (Hence the related idiom, “to take the cake.")

The round cake I’m sharing this week is indeed an easy one. The kids will love being a part of this wonder of science. If you like, you can go ahead and walk around it when it’s finished.

I am going to post my adaptation of the recipe I found, but I highly recommend you do justice to the folks who came up with my inspiration – Milk Street Magazine.

Every issue I have bought has offered a recipe I wanted to try (and felt I could easily do well). I have also learned new culinary tidbits in every issue.

I adapted the recipe slightly; the published version uses espresso powder and water instead of my cinnamon and milk (Hubby doesn’t like coffee, so I needed to get creative).

I have made it while camping twice – once we even did a double layer version with dulce de leche filling and caramel sauce and toasted coconut on top.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup packed golden sugar
  • ½ cup milk or buttermilk, or brewed coffee if you like the mocha flavour
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 6 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil (both work fine)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Prepare your equipment:

  • Take an 18-inch length of aluminum foil and squish it lengthwise into a circle. It should be about 1-1/2 inches high.
  • Place the foil circle in a Dutch oven that has a lid. Fill the Dutch oven with water to about ¾ of the circle.
  • Grease a 9 inch layer cake pan. Cut a parchment circle to fit in the bottom of the pan, then grease the parchment.

Prepare the batter:

  • In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon)
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until lighter in colour.
  • Add in the milk, yogurt and cooled butter.
  • Whisk in the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
  • Pour the batter into the layer pan (it will be close to full, don’t worry). Place the pan on the foil circle in the Dutch oven. Place the lid on.
  • Bring the water to boil in the Dutch oven, then bring the heat down so the water is just simmering.
  • Set your timer for 20 minutes.

The cake should be springy when fully cooked, with a toothpick inserted in the centre coming out clean (this was 23 minutes as listed in the original when I did it).

Once it is cooked, turn off the heat and remove the Dutch oven lid.

Let the cake cool in the Dutch oven for a few minutes – so you can lift it out safely. Pull it out and let it cool a bit more on a wire rack.

Run a knife around the edges, flip the pan while holding the cake from its top, and tap the warm cake on the bottom. It should plop out.

Feel free to decorate the cake and serve it as you like. It’s delicious with ice cream, with jam in the middle, with icing sugar sprinkled on top… or just eat it warm.

Any way you slice it, this cake will make you feel better about how busy things have gotten in your life again. You may even want to bake it monthly and keep feeling better.

Why not have your cake and eat it too?

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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