Skip to main content
lucy waverman

I was always a cook, not a baker. Yes, I could bake, but the time and precision required, and all the equipment to clean up, not to mention the extra calories, guaranteed that I would not.

This held true until I discovered one-bowl cakes. Many years ago, British food writer Claudia Roden wrote a cookbook about Middle Eastern food that included several recipes for one-bowl cakes. Her Orange and Almond Cake would have gone viral if social media had been around. Instead, it was picked up by food writers and became a sensation.

Her method is perfect for today’s time-starved cook. Put everything in one bowl, mix it together and bake. Less time, fewer bowls, effortless washing up, but a delicious end result.

A theory behind these cakes is that when you coat flour with fat, the gluten development is minimized making a more tender cake. Then you beat it well to develop a little gluten to give a bit of structure. In other cases, you add a bit more baking powder. The cakes are denser than traditional ones, but they are moist, flavourful and easy. Just remember not to overbake. I usually finish mine with a glaze.

Most of these cakes use self-rising flour, easily available at the supermarket. Self-rising flour has baking powder and salt already added. If you do not have it, add 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt to each cup of all-purpose flour.

Lately, there have been a lot of recipes for orange and lemon cakes that feature whole fruit and the one-bowl method. What I learned from these cakes is that using a food processor makes the whole process a snap. Here are two one-bowl cakes to try.

Classic lemon cake

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the base of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease pan.

Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cup self-rising flour, 1/4 cup milk, grated zest of 1 lemon, and 2 eggs in a large bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, until well combined, about 3 minutes. Spoon into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from cake pan.

Combine ½ cup granulated sugar with ¼ cup lemon juice in a small pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Make holes with a thin skewer all over the cake. Pour over warm glaze. Cool.

Whole fruit cake

The original idea is on the web from many authors. I have changed the ingredients and method to make what I think is a better final product.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the base of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease pan. In food processor, combine 3 small (or 2 medium) mandarin oranges, or 1 regular large orange cut up, and 1/2 a lemon. Add ¼ cup sugar. Puree until mostly smooth. Add 2 eggs, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup softened butter, and process until well combined. Stir in 1½ cups self-rising flour and pulse until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. In small pan, melt ¼ cup orange marmalade with 2 tablespoons water. Spread over cooled cake.

Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining? Send your questions to

Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.