PUBLISHED: 5:41 PM on Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Bake it easy with simple dump cakes
For either baking novices or seasoned pros, a dump cake is a no-brainer. You simply dump the ingredients into a bowl and beat them, then pour the batter into a pan and bake it. Although a dump cake is easy to make, it's just as good as a more fancy cake. Perhaps that's why dump cakes, including pound cakes, have been popular for hundreds of years.

The secret to the cake is in properly beating the ingredients, so follow these tips. Let the butter soften and take the eggs out of the fridge to warm a bit. For an airy batter, beat the softened butter and sugar really well until the creamed mixture looks pale and wispy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until all the streaks are gone. Any curdling you might see will disappear as you beat. Turn off the mixer occasionally and scrape the batter at the sides of the bowl into the path of the beaters so everything gets thoroughly mixed.

Switch to low speed when you add the dry ingredients to keep the flour mixture from flying into the air. Since overbeating the flour can toughen a cake, beat only until the batter has no streaks. Stir in the chips by hand so the mixer does not break them.

Be sure the cake is done before you take it out of the oven. You can use either a cake tester, a thin metal wire with a knob on top, or a wooden pick. Gently push the tester into the middle of the cake and pull it out. If you see liquid batter on the tester, keep baking. If the tester comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. A silky-textured pound cake is rich and moist all by itself, so you don't need to frost it. Just slice and enjoy!

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