I am a go-getter by nature. Maybe it is the Virgo in me, but laziness has never been a problem of mine. I love days when I wake up energized and am able to handily complete everything on my ambitious agenda, ending the evening with a long list of accomplishments. In my ideal world everyday would be like this, full of productivity and excitement. Unfortunately, however, no matter how hyper-organized I am, this is not the case. Some mornings I wake up exhausted with dark circles under my eyes from being up during the night with my daughter. At these moments my priorities flip from plowing through another lengthy to-do list, to parring down my daily schedule and conserving my energy. Thus, when it comes to planning our meals on these occasions, I head straight for my go-to binder that is chock-full of recipes for emergency meals and simple baked goods.
Last week my daughter woke me up at 5am, for the day. You can imagine my delight at hearing her call my name ("Momma, Momma") from her crib so early. Desperate for more shut eye I tried everything I could to soothe her back to sleep, but she wasn't interested. The sun was rising, the birds were chirping and she was ready to embrace the morning. Reluctantly, I made breakfast and set about our daily routine, albeit two hours earlier than usual. Finally, after my third cup of tea, the fog in my head slowly began to clear and my thoughts turned to the cake I needed to make for a dinner party that evening. I hadn't decided exactly what to bake yet, but it was clear I had to choose a recipe that was delicious yet practical. I simply didn't have the energy or patience to make anything involving multiple layers or decorative frosting.
After a quick perusal of my recipe file I plucked out one of my standby cake recipes, Great-Grandmother Pauline's Lazy Daisy Cake. This is one of my favorite cakes for many reasons, it is a cinch to make when my energy level is sapped, and it is absolutely delicious. Also, I think the rhyming title is fun to say out loud. Preparing this cake requires little more than basic stirring with a wooden spoon and bowl. On this particular day, after my daughter went down for her nap, I assembled the simple batter in less than six minutes and popped it in the oven. When the baking was complete I immediately added the topping, put it under the broiler for a short 30 seconds, and the cake was done. That evening everyone cleaned their plates while praising it's moist, tender crumb, intense vanilla flavor and sweet crunchy topping. Several people remarked that it must have taken me over an hour to make. I graciously accepted their compliments, without letting on that I had secret. The cake had taken so little time to prepare that, when it was finished baking, I had taken a nap, too.
Naptime's Lazy Daisy Cake
adapted from Great-Grandmother Pauline's recipe
1/2 c. whole milk
1 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
Topping (also known as 'German Frosting')
5 T. dark brown sugar
3 T. butter
3 T. cream
3/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375. Butter and flour 9-inch round cake pan.
2. Heat milk, butter and vanilla in a sauce pan until butter is melted. Remove from heat.
3. In large, heatproof bowl, add combine sugar, flour, eggs, baking soda and salt.
4. Slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring constantly so as to temper the eggs.
5. Mix batter until fully combined with no lumps.
6. Pour into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
7. In a separate bowl combine butter, cream and brown sugar until fully combined. Add walnuts and mix until nuts are fully coated.
8. When cake is finished baking immediately put on walnut topping and spread it around until it completely covers the cake.
9. Switch the oven to broil and move the oven rack to the top.
10. Place cake on top rack and broil for 30 seconds or until nuts get dark.
11. Cool and serve.
Naptime Recipe Props: The vanilla flavor of this cake is not overly sweet and contrasts nicely with the crunchy walnut topping. I like to serve it with ice-cream, but it would be good with fruit on the side. This recipe could also possibly make a nice layer cake, you could make two of the cakes and use the walnut frosting between the layers and on top.
Naptime Stopwatch: Making the batter took 6 minutes, the baking took 22, and the topping took 30 seconds. So, from start to finish, this cake takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. You can't beat that time frame.
Naptime Reviews: This sweet vanilla cake is always a hit with my family or crowds. You will hardly ever find a person who can't resist eating their entire serving.