12 May 2013

brown sugar plain cake

Spotty cloth from Frangipani Fabrics.
Every now and then I need a plain cake. A plain cake is a very good thing: a palate cleanser after rich chocolate cake or panettone pudding, for example. A good plain cake is never boring: buttery and simple, it can be enjoyed with a cup of green tea for a quiet moment at the end of a long day, or served up with fruit — zingy stewed rhubarb, soft summer berries, spicy roasted plums — and a good blob of thickened cream.

My go-to plain cake is a Women’s Weekly one made with greek yoghurt; sometimes I make it as a batch of cupcakes and freeze them immediately so I have a ready stash for when I’m craving simplicity.

I’d been itching to make a plain cake anyway and was about to add greek yoghurt to my grocery list when I remembered Paula’s brown sugar version at Vintage Kitchen Notes. It delivered just what I was after, a calming cake with barely a trace of sweetness – while some may say that’s a flaw, a lack, I love this kind of subtlety every now and then. Making it in a loaf tin also reinforced the notion that you could easily cut off slice after slice – elegantly thin for that contemplative cup of tea; a more substantial chunk to support any accompanying fruit or ice cream, perhaps. It may be plain but it’s very versatile.
Brown sugar plain cake
Adapted from Vintage Kitchen Notes. Please visit Paula – her pictures are so much prettier than mine, and her temptations are many.
  • Preheat oven to 180 and prep a medium sized loaf tin.
  • Cream 75 gms soft butter with ½ cup light brown sugar and ¼ cup white sugar.
  • Add 2 eggs and ½ tspn vanilla (I used the paste, but there actually wasn’t enough to make the specks really noticeable).
  • Then sift and stir in 1 and ¾ cups plain flour, 2 tspns baking powder (this is less than Paula specified but worked for me) and a scant ¼ tspn of salt, then 2/3 cups of sour cream. My batter was quite stiff.
  • Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until done.


  1. I´m so happy you liked the cake e! I find it´s one of my favorites too, and being rather low in sugar is one of the reasons. And doesn´t brown sugar make everything better? Love it with raspberries. I have some frozen from the summer to get me through the winter. Thanks for your sweet words!

    1. hello paula! it's so fitting that you're the first to comment! i have saved so many of your recipes so it's wonderful to finally make one. i hope others go thru and discover your tempting blog.
      and yes, my berries were rescued from the freezer too! thank you paula :-)

  2. Simple and perfect e, happy Sunday to you :)

    1. thank you jane, i hope you had a lovely sunday too :-)

  3. I'm definitely into plain cakes! One of my most favourite cakes can be made with just 3 to 4 ingredients.

    1. wow, leaf! 3 or 4 ingredients? let me guess - a kind of flour, eggs, butter? and maybe flavour like vanilla or lemon zest? or just sugar? i went back and counted the ingredients in paula's recipe (8 or so) so you have me intrigued!


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