One-bowl Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting


Simplicity is underrated.

Fancy, complicated, multiple-component, dirty-the-mixer-and-every-bowl-in-the-kitchen desserts can be incredibly satisfying projects to take on, and they are certainly wonderful for impressing friends and family, but sometimes all I want is a nice simple cake without the sink full of dishes.

That’s where this recipe comes in. A sweet, uncomplicated little vanilla cake with fudgy chocolate frosting that only requires one bowl and one spoon. You don’t even need to break out the mixer for this, and you probably already have the ingredients on hand.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 F and grease an 8″ cake pan.
Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs one at a time.
Beat in the vanilla.
Sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture, then sprinkle the salt and baking powder over the flour.
Gently mix until combined.
Stir in the milk.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake is baking, wash the bowl so you can use it to make the frosting.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
whole milk

Beat the butter, powdered sugar and cocoa powder together, then add milk about a half-teaspoon at a time until the frosting has a spreadable consistency.



15 Responses to “One-bowl Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting”

  1. 1 Branny August 11, 2009 at 3:57 am

    This looks like a pantry-staple-recipe that can be used to please my whining omnivore (and I say that in the best way) when he craves sweets!

  2. 2 Michelle August 11, 2009 at 5:22 am

    I love recipes like this, and you’re right I have everything on hand!

  3. 3 Colleen August 11, 2009 at 6:39 am

    MMmm that looks delicious! I love simple!

  4. 4 Kerstin August 11, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Yum! This looks like a perfect recipe to turn to when you don’t want to over think things. I love how the frosting makes it look like a donut too.

  5. 5 Vera August 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    I love everything one-bowl! The cake looks yummy!

  6. 6 BluePencil August 12, 2009 at 6:56 am

    This is definitely in the spirit of your great-grandmother Houchen, who said, “I can bake cake all day long and only dirty one bowl.”

  7. 7 ashley August 12, 2009 at 8:12 am

    i love recipes like this that you can whip up quickly. its perfect for a midnight cake craving! 🙂

  8. 9 Rebel August 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Yum! This is one of my favorite types of cake. You’re right, simplicity is underrated sometimes.

  9. 10 Live May 2, 2010 at 11:56 am

    This was so easy to make (indeed, I did have all the ingredients in the house)! And the frosting was yummy.

  10. 11 Anindita May 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Love this cake! So easy to make and doesn’t need a trip to the grocery…sometimes the simplest things in life are the best!
    Btw I also love your blog…i am a vegetarian and love the fact that i can experiment with world cuisines from your recipes!

  11. 12 pearse February 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    does the frosting stay shiny like in the picture? also what is the texture of the cake? is it dense?

    • 13 Cate February 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      The frosting didn’t stay that shiny. I also made it with different powdered sugar (it was slightly more coarse because I was living in Korea and couldn’t find normal frosting).
      The cake is pretty light – not dense like a pound cake.

  12. 14 Gen July 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

    The cake looks great and so easy with all ingredients on hand – I have been looking for a recipe for vanilla cake with chocolate icing! I don’t have a mixer so this will be perfect. I look forward to trying it.

  1. 1 Quick and Deeeeelish Cupcakes « Honey Muffin Trackback on August 12, 2009 at 9:55 am

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