One Egg Cake

One egg cake

When I was a kid, maybe 9, I had a cupcake company. (I know, I was way ahead of myself.) I took out a $20 loan from my mom, bought ingredients and labeled them, and made the One Egg Cake out of The Joy of Cooking, and turned the batter into cupcakes to sell to neighbours on our street. After my loan was paid back, I think I made $7. (Most of the profits were eaten up.)

One egg cakes 3

I still have a soft spot (OK, many) for homemade cupcakes with straight-up buttercream frosting, applied in no particularly fancy order, just spread on with a knife. I think of the one-egg cake often, but have never revisited it – until late this afternoon, when I really really just needed some cake. And a short distraction from the computer. I stood and stared at the mixer beating butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk – this is as basic a formula as they get – then poured the batter into tins, slid them into the oven and returned to the computer. No matter how gloomy a day you’re having, it’s brightened by the smell of vanilla cake baking in the middle of the afternoon.

One egg cakes 2

Honestly, you don’t even need the frosting – these little cakes are so buttery and plain, I love them as is, without anything at all. They could carry berries for a cakey kind of muffin, and I’m sure you could easily make them chocolate, but the joy in these is that they are perfectly plain, even spread with the most basic of frostings. I didn’t include a recipe here because I never use one; my usual method is to dump about 1/3 cup of soft butter into the mixing bowl, beat in a cup or two of icing sugar and a splash of milk or cream (and in this case, a healthy pour of good vanilla), and beat, adding a little more sugar or cream, until it’s the consistency I want. I don’t know why I have never been able to bring myself to measure my frosting ingredients.

Unbaked one egg cakesBaked one egg cakes

Of course this cake also makes layers – two, if you bake it divided between two 8 or 9-inch round pans. I’ve reduced the salt (from 1 tsp to 1/4 – plenty) and changed the technique from my current (1975) version of Joy, which calls for beating the butter and milk into the dry ingredients, to use a more common method of making cake batter (also the method I recall using as a child; it could have been a different version of the book) – beating the butter-sugar-egg, then alternating dry ingredients with milk.

One Egg Cake


March 20, 2017


1/3 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk


1Preheat the oven to 350?F.

2In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and light; beat in the egg and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, beating just until blended after each. Pour the batter into paper-lined muffin tins or two greased 8 or 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 20 minutes (cupcakes) to 25 minutes (cakes), or until the cakes are golden and springy to the touch. Cool completely before frosting.

4Makes about 1 dozen cupcakes or 2 layer cakes.


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39 comments on “One Egg Cake

  1. Jennifer
    March 21, 2017 at 3:43 am

    Now I know what I’m doing with my afternoon. I almost never make cupcakes because I feel obliged to do something pretty with them. But cupcakes on a random Tuesday afternoon are special all by themselves.

    • Julie
      March 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm


    • Valerie Blanchette
      August 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      And today on a random Thursday! SMELLS GREAT in the oven…

  2. Cathy Norrie
    March 21, 2017 at 7:43 am

    This is my hubby’s favourite cake flavour. Nothing fancy dancy just great flavour mixed a bit with childhood memories. Thanks for posting this for us, Julie.

    P.S. Last week was the Julie VanR week for dinners – every night it was something from your blog and everything turned out delicious (as usual when my cooking is inspired by you!!).

    • Julie
      March 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Aw, you totally just made my day!! So glad to hear it! and yeah, I love straight vanilla cake with vanilla frosting too…

  3. esme
    March 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Love this! Love how you make baking cupcakes something you just get up from your computer and do – like it’s easy and fun not complicated and painful. I am going to try these tonight. Thanks SO much, Julie.

    • Julie
      March 21, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks Esme 🙂

  4. Jake
    March 22, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Sprinkles? My third grade self would like sprinkles. Nabob lime cordial, egg salad sandwich triangles, and cupcakes with sprinkles – party perfection. A long time ago.

    Nice Tuesday cupcakes!

    • Julie
      March 22, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      yes! I did sprinkle some for W. 🙂

      • Sam
        September 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

        Hi I have the batter ready and I would like to make this correctly, so how long do I cook these cupcakes?

  5. Darby
    March 29, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I made these but failed to oil my pan enough and they all got stuck. After I dug them out, I made the most amazing tiramisu with the scraps:) Love your blog!

  6. Kristi
    March 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I made these with my son. They stuck to the edges of the pan quite badly. I think maybe I put you much batter in each cup? I made 12, plus 4 minis, but maybe should have made 16. Don’t fill these more than halfway! However, in spite of the mess, they taste pretty good :). I just wish I knew for sure what to do differently next time to get the nice golden domed tops!

    • Jennifer
      March 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Kristi, when I made these they overflowed the cups. (I knew when I put the batter in I was putting in too much, but I did it anyway. It’s my own fault.) I was thinking next time I make them I’ll make 18 instead.

    • Julie
      April 2, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Hmm.. did you grease the pan or line them with paper liners? And were they flat instead of domed? perhaps your baking powder is old and no longer has punch?

  7. Jen
    April 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

    I’ve been wanting a “go-to” cup cake recipe for years but just can’t seem to find the one. After making these cupcakes last night I finally have that recipe. Thank-you!! They were incredible!

  8. rwcbfk
    April 5, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Can you tell me how long you would bake these if I used mini muffin tins?

    • Julie
      April 6, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      I would go about 15 minutes!

  9. Jenni
    May 19, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Any guess at how much shredded coconut I could add to the batter to make these coconut cupcakes? I would add it to the icing on top as well 🙂

    • Julie
      May 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      I’d add about half a cup to the batter? Perhaps use coconut milk – and coconut extract for sure for the best flavour.

  10. Candy
    July 23, 2017 at 7:09 am

    So much better than other one-egg recipes I have tried. This made a perfect base for a quasi-trifle of cake, plain yogurt, and defrosted Trader Joe’s berry medley.

  11. Haydee
    September 1, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I just made these cupcakes and they are delish. So simple, not many ingredients or complicated methods, just plain good cake. Perfect for those afternoons when my daughter, out the blue says: “Ma let´s bake something…” She added sprinkles to the batter to make them funfetti style. Also made a cake with this recipe and she mixed pink food coloring to a bit of the batter and then gave it a marblelized effect. You can do pretty much anything with it. Thanks Julie.

    • Julie
      September 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Yes, that’s the idea! So glad to hear they hit the mark with you guys!

  12. Stephanie Gallacher
    October 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    This recipe turned out really bad for me. I followed the instructions exactly and it’s very runny. I’ve never experienced this with a cake before. But this is my first 1 egg recipe. Any suggestions are welcome

    • Julie
      October 31, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Hmmm…interesting! The finished cake was runny? did it not bake properly?

  13. Mimi
    November 29, 2017 at 3:32 am

    This was a really good recipe. A little too sweet for me, so I reduced the amount of sugar. Also, 25 minutes was not enough for the cake to fully cook. A crust had formed on top but a fork poked through came out covered in liquid batter. I reduced the temp to 150C and baked for another 20 minutes.
    After that it turned out perfect.

    Thank & Cheers : )

    • Julie
      November 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Great to hear! Yes, ovens can sure vary…

  14. Nora bury
    February 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I want to make this but have no milk. Can I substitute anything else for the milk

  15. Sheree
    July 29, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    I just finished baking these easy and delicious cupcakes. The recipe made 16 cupcakes for me and I wound up baking them for 35 minutes 25 was too short. I also substituted almond milk which may have increased cook time. The amount of sugar does cause a crunchy top but that’s not a bad thing. They do not need icing as they are quite sweet and satisfying on their own.

  16. Din
    September 3, 2018 at 10:30 am

    can you add coco powder to the dry ingredients?

    • Julie
      September 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Sure thing! Sub 1/3 cup of the flour for cocoa?

  17. Rebeccah hough
    September 21, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I think you should delete the anonymous comment 2 comments above me. I’m not bothere by language but it was quite a shock to suddenly run up on after reading nice comments. Recipe looks good definitely will try. Thanks!

    • Julie
      September 25, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      So sorry.. I try to catch them, but sometimes they sneak through…

  18. DRE
    July 30, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Hi! What were to happen if I substituted for brown sugar? I’m fresh out of white sugar and would love to try these.

    • Julie
      July 31, 2019 at 11:37 am

      It would be more caramelly and delicious!

  19. beth kenneweg
    February 6, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Wow, I just made this recipe today! Delicious! I halved the amount of sugar and topped them with a pinch of confectioners sugar. Made them for my husbands birthday- so simple! Thanks, Julie!

  20. Denise
    April 17, 2020 at 2:20 am

    One egg cake in loaf pan temp should be at 375 not 350. Baking way to long

  21. Cathy Norrie
    April 17, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Denise… each oven is different so what works for you may not work for others. Julie suggested the temp and time and each of us must adjust according to our particular oven. Please keep that in mind.

    • Julie
      April 19, 2020 at 10:13 am

      Thanks Cathy! Yes, ovens vary so much.. it’s more accurate to know what to look for as indicators of doneness…

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