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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 lwaverman@globeandmail.com.

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