When I said to my husband the other day, “How about I bake a busy day cake?” he cheered. He actually lifted his arms over his head and let out a whoop. He loves this cake, and so do I. It’s a cinch to throw together and it’s delicious. It’s like a pound cake in terms of denseness, and it has a subtle vanilla flavor. It may not knock your socks off like a deep rich chocolate cake slathered with a chocolate buttercream would, but it’s a tasty treat and especially handy for when you’re busy but still want to have a yummy homemade dessert.

This recipe comes from my neighbor when I was growing up. I was friends with her son in elementary school and she was, for a time in my life, like a second mother to me. She and her family still live next door to my parents, and when there was a problem with the bouquets on my wedding day – deep purple peonies in what should have been all light pink arrangements – she volunteered every bloom on her pink hydrangea bush to replace the dark peonies. It was a small detail in the wedding, but having Mrs. C’s flowers in the bouquets meant a lot to me. I still get a little misty-eyed when I think about it. This recipe makes me think of her, and smile.

This recipe could stand up to some adjustments, and I want to tinker with it. It’s great as is, but: it calls for vegetable shortening, which is the bane of foodies everywhere. I want to try using all butter and seeing what happens (I suspect it’ll be just fine). I also think this could be livened up with some citrus zest. I made a quick cream cheese glaze, but a lemony glaze or  maybe even a chocolate ganache would also be good.

Busy Day Cake

From Mrs. C

3 1/3 cup flour

2 cups sugar

½ teaspoon salt

5 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup shortening

1 1/3 cups milk

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift first four ingredients. Add remaining, mixing until well blended. A hand mixer is best for getting all of the butter/shortening incorporated. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour (check for doneness after 50 minutes or so).

Let cool and remove from pan.

Cream Cheese Glaze

My approach to making frosting is more along the lines of “throw the basics together and keep adjusting until I like it,” so this recipe isn’t exact. But making frosting or a glaze isn’t an exact science. A little fat + a good amount of sugar + some milk to loosen it up +  a splash of vanilla for flavor is all you need. You can replace the cream cheese with butter, if that’s more your style, and you could use a citrus juice, like lemon, instead of  the milk to make a glaze with a tasty zing.

about 2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened

1-2 Tablespoons milk

about 2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together until well blended. The glaze should be thin enough to drip from your spoon, but not so thin that it will soak into the cake (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing if it happened, actually). Just adjust the powdered sugar and milk to get the consistency you like – and remember, a little milk goes a long way.