One Egg Cake

One egg cake

When I was a kid, maybe 9, I had a cupcake company. (I know, I was way ahead of myself.) I took out a $20 loan from my mom, bought ingredients and labeled them, and made the One Egg Cake out of The Joy of Cooking, and turned the batter into cupcakes to sell to neighbours on our street. After my loan was paid back, I think I made $7. (Most of the profits were eaten up.)

One egg cakes 3

I still have a soft spot (OK, many) for homemade cupcakes with straight-up buttercream frosting, applied in no particularly fancy order, just spread on with a knife. I think of the one-egg cake often, but have never revisited it – until late this afternoon, when I really really just needed some cake. And a short distraction from the computer. I stood and stared at the mixer beating butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk – this is as basic a formula as they get – then poured the batter into tins, slid them into the oven and returned to the computer. No matter how gloomy a day you’re having, it’s brightened by the smell of vanilla cake baking in the middle of the afternoon.

One egg cakes 2

Honestly, you don’t even need the frosting – these little cakes are so buttery and plain, I love them as is, without anything at all. They could carry berries for a cakey kind of muffin, and I’m sure you could easily make them chocolate, but the joy in these is that they are perfectly plain, even spread with the most basic of frostings. I didn’t include a recipe here because I never use one; my usual method is to dump about 1/3 cup of soft butter into the mixing bowl, beat in a cup or two of icing sugar and a splash of milk or cream (and in this case, a healthy pour of good vanilla), and beat, adding a little more sugar or cream, until it’s the consistency I want. I don’t know why I have never been able to bring myself to measure my frosting ingredients.

Unbaked one egg cakesBaked one egg cakes

Of course this cake also makes layers – two, if you bake it divided between two 8 or 9-inch round pans. I’ve reduced the salt (from 1 tsp to 1/4 – plenty) and changed the technique from my current (1975) version of Joy, which calls for beating the butter and milk into the dry ingredients, to use a more common method of making cake batter (also the method I recall using as a child; it could have been a different version of the book) – beating the butter-sugar-egg, then alternating dry ingredients with milk.

One egg cake
One egg cake

One Egg Cake

Recipe link


March 20, 2017


1/3 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk


1Preheat the oven to 350?F.


3In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and light; beat in the egg and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.


5Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, beating just until blended after each. Pour the batter into paper-lined muffin tins or two greased 8 or 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 20 minutes (cupcakes) to 25 minutes (cakes), or until the cakes are golden and springy to the touch. Cool completely before frosting.


7Makes about 1 dozen cupcakes or 2 layer cakes.


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8 comments on “One Egg Cake

  1. Jennifer
    March 21, 2017 at 3:43 am

    Now I know what I’m doing with my afternoon. I almost never make cupcakes because I feel obliged to do something pretty with them. But cupcakes on a random Tuesday afternoon are special all by themselves.

  2. Cathy Norrie
    March 21, 2017 at 7:43 am

    This is my hubby’s favourite cake flavour. Nothing fancy dancy just great flavour mixed a bit with childhood memories. Thanks for posting this for us, Julie.

    P.S. Last week was the Julie VanR week for dinners – every night it was something from your blog and everything turned out delicious (as usual when my cooking is inspired by you!!).

    • Julie
      March 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Aw, you totally just made my day!! So glad to hear it! and yeah, I love straight vanilla cake with vanilla frosting too…

  3. esme
    March 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Love this! Love how you make baking cupcakes something you just get up from your computer and do – like it’s easy and fun not complicated and painful. I am going to try these tonight. Thanks SO much, Julie.

  4. Jake
    March 22, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Sprinkles? My third grade self would like sprinkles. Nabob lime cordial, egg salad sandwich triangles, and cupcakes with sprinkles – party perfection. A long time ago.

    Nice Tuesday cupcakes!

    • Julie
      March 22, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      yes! I did sprinkle some for W. :)

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