Spring Break is upon us. You know, that week you look forward to for months, then dread three hours into it because the kids are BORED.
One of my favorite things to do with my little chicklets when they’re begging me for entertainment (as if I, the frazzled lady emptying the dishwasher just seconds after walking in the door from a full day of work, am the Family Social Director) is bake a little something. The kids stay busy, learn a little something, and – best of all – I get cake.
I whip out an old-school cookbook of the dessert variety and let them choose their recipes. Then I veto their decisions and point out the recipes I want them to make (because “there’s no way a chocolate pudding soufflé is going to end well, Emma”).
I’ve made (and eaten) my fair share of boxed cakes, but my personal preference is a cake from scratch. If you think about it, the boxed mix replaces only a few ingredients that you most likely have on-hand (flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla), but adds in so much more unpronounceable and unappetizing stuff. Let’s save the partially hydrogenated soybean oil for our Oreo intake.
Besides, a cake from scratch has mega bragging rights. (“Emma, you made this all by yourself? From a box? No!? I’m impressed!”)
Let the kids do all the work while you supervise over a glass of wine. It’s healthy for them to learn how to read a recipe and measure out ingredients. Step in only when they try to leave out the sugar completely, or think adding blue food coloring is a good idea.
You might also need to taste-test along the way. That butter could be bad. Safety first!
Do you know what goes good with cake batter? A spoon.
This Good Housekeeping Yellow Cake recipe is so simple and delicious. It eschews all bells and whistles for genuine great flavor. I could have eaten this cake without frosting (and if you know me, you know that’s a bold statement). But Emma decided store-bought chocolate frosting was the perfect finishing touch (I’ve never claimed to be the perfect mother).
This cake is best eaten immediately. All of it. Don’t wait for the rest of the family to get home; the cake will be ruined by then.
Not one to be left out, my youngest chicklet, Sophia, decided she wanted to make ice cream to go with Emma’s half-devoured cake. Who am I to deny a child?
This cinnamon ice cream is so easy to make, and so easy to eat. It takes more time to pull the ice cream maker out of the back of the pantry than it does to throw the ingredients together. (Don’t have an ice cream maker? Get one! This is the one I use. Amazon Prime will have it at your house before Spring Break is even over.)
In goes cream & sugar, and out comes this frozen, cinnamon-speckled goodness.
All that’s left is for your kids to do the clean-up while you have your second helping of cake & ice cream (life lessons, you know).
Simple Yellow Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened (you can substitute margarine or vegetable shortening, but don’t)
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs (best if at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until smooth, frequently scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; spread evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Run thin knife around edges to loosen layers from sides of pans. Invert layers onto racks to cool completely before frosting.
Cinnamon Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup half & half
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract)
- pinch of salt
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Pour into ice cream maker and prepare according to ice cream maker’s directions (mine was ready in 20 minutes). Pour ice cream into freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-3 hours to harden (or don’t, and just eat it as soft serve, whatever).