How a Single Layer Cake Makes Everything Just a Little Nicer

Do you eat dessert at home? Most people I know don't, saving what they consider an extravagance for special occasions and when they dine out. But I recently discovered that having a simple cake on hand is a really nice way to introduce a little sweet at the end of a meal without going overboard. My secrets is to bake a single layer cake and to not frost it. What? No frosting? I know, I know, but stay with me here!

Desserts are indeed an extravagance for many of us, especially in the cleanse-mania month of January when people seek to shed a few of their holiday pounds. But I'm also a big fan of not going overboard with deprivation and feel that everyday meals should be just as celebrated as special occasions. So my middle-way solution is to bake a single layer cake and dust it with powdered sugar.

For me and my small household, a 9" cake lasts an entire week. After dinner or even occasionally after lunch, I cut a simple wedge of cake and serve it on a pretty plate. Suddenly a humdrum mid-week meal becomes a little more special. It always makes me smile. Also, having a little cake in the house means you can have someone over for afternoon tea, which is a practice I highly recommend.

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Some cakes are made for this, like polenta cakes or the delicious Breton cake I had when visiting Anne Zimmerman (pictured above.) But you can also just use your favorite layer cake recipe, either cutting the recipe in half or making two layers and freezing one (wrap it in plastic and again in foil to protect the layer from freezer burn.)

Keep your cake fresh by wrapping it in plastic wrap or keeping it in a cake tin or tupperware. If it starts to dry out, try serving it with a little jam spread over the top. Or melt the jam in a saucepan and pour it over.

Don't get me wrong: frosting is very, very nice and I would not want to live in a world without it. But a frosted cake as an everyday thing is a little over the top, in my book. With a small wedge of unfrosted cake, we can still indulge. This is definitely a solution to the having your cake and eating it too problem!

These cake recipes from The Kitchn's archives would make great single layer cakes. Just cut the recipe in half and bake in a 8 or 9" pan. Or again, make two layers but freeze one for later. And skip the frosting!

Carrot Sheet Cake
Dark Chocolate Cake
Yogurt Cake
Blueberry Banana Cake
Forelle Pear Cake

Related: Quick Tip: Freeze Pre-Baked Cakes

(Images: Dana Velden)