Years ago, a FamilyFun reader shared an idea that I loved. I think we’d put out a call for—what? Ideas to make everyday life more fun, maybe? Or 50 great ways to keep weekdays from sucking? I can’t remember. But my favorite entry was this idea for a cake. And my very favorite thing about it was that when I wrote to ask for a photograph, it turned out that it was not a “Yay, It’s Wednesday!” cake, like I had imagined. It was a “Yay, It’s Wednesday Cake!” cake, which was, like, a thousand times even more charming and delightful. Others did not quite share my enthusiasm for the whole thing, and we did not end up running the idea. But it’s brilliant.
Because: Wednesday! I’m not going to stop you from making a mean or ironic “Yay, It’s Monday Cake!” cake. Or a redundantly ecstatic “Yay, it’s Friday Cake!” cake. But Wednesday really seems like a day that can stand to be both mildly celebrated and shored up. Thursday seems like another good candidate, although by Thursday I’m pretty much in full-on celebration mode, so I don’t so much need the cake. And Tuesday feels, well, a little soon. Wednesday, though. Just this afternoon, from upstairs, I heard Birdy walk in the door and cry, “Oh! Yay! It’s a Yay It’s Wednesday Cake cake!” And this was not a person who was overly happy leaving the house this morning. And by not “overly happy,” I mean, I checked my hair for flames after her fire-breathing departure for school. So.
And also? Should you crazily not want to celebrate any weekday in particular? This is just a great, easy cake. No butter to cream. Nothing fussy. Tasty and predictable and quick and small. Plus, not to boast, but the frosting is one of my best-ever recipes: creamy and chocolaty without that butteriness, which I don’t like in frosting, no offense buttercream lovers.
|Plus, now it's almost *Thursday*!|
Almost-Instant Vanilla Cake
If you double this recipe, bake it in a 9- by 13-inch pan, or two cake pans. Or make cupcakes. Just be sure to double the frosting too!
1 cup sugar
½ cup milk or buttermilk (buttermilk will make it more tender and tangy, but milk is fine)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
Heat the oven to 350 and grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or the equivalent. (I use an 11- by 7-inch rectangular dish.)
Beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until they are nice and thick, about a minute. Add the liquid ingredients and beat for a couple of seconds, then add the dry ingredients (it would probably make sense to whisk these together first, but I seem not to) and mix just until combined.
Pour the batter in to the pan and bake until the top is golden, puffed, and firm (20-30 minutes). Let cool before frosting.
Whipped Chocolate Frosting
This is basically whipped ganache, but it’s good at any point in the making. You can skip the whipping and just pour the frosting on, if you prefer. Trader Joe’s shelf-stable heavy cream is great for this, if that’s something you happen to keep around.
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Put the chocolate chips and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer.
2. Put the cream in a small pot over medium-high heat and bring it just to a boil.
3. Carefully pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and let it stand for 10 minutes without stirring.
4. Whisk until it’s smooth and shiny.
5. If it’s still warm, let the ganache cool to room temperature (5 to 10 minutes).
6. Beat it with an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Use right away.
Makes 1 cup