It's been a while since I made an entry into my patented list of "5 foods you can make in your sleep." As the title suggests, these are dishes that don't require time spent in a class at a culinary school beforehand. Today's list concerns cakes.

Yes, cakes are even simpler to bake compared to those several years ago. In fact, one can easily make one with just some ready cake mix combined with an ingredient or two. However, those are not the cakes on this list. No, the cakes I'm talking about here are so simple, they won't even require such methods.

If you are interested in more lists like this, you can check out this one for desserts and this one for dessert sauces. But for now, just read on.


Kicking things off, we have one of the oldest and simplest cakes in the book. A pound cake earned its name with a dumbed downed square mix formula. The flour, eggs, butter, and sugar are weighed and combined in equal parts--all adding up to a pound.

Over the years, the formula has undergone many changes to produce different results. Some recipes add milk for extra moistness. Others add more sugar for extra tenderness. However, the square mix formula remains the simplest of them all.

Cake in a mug

As the name suggests, this is a small oil cake, usually chocolate-based, prepared in a mug.

There are two reasons these cakes are so simple. The first being the typical formula which is similar to a cupcake whereas it calls for flour, sugar, egg, and vegetable oil combined in equal parts much like a pound cake.

The second reason is that it’s prepared in a microwave and can be ready within five minutes. This is because the heated oil in the mix forms bubbles that provide extra leavening.

Italian Sponge cake

Sponge cakes were once considered challenging as they required delicately whipped eggs for their rise and a whole lot (almost three times the weight of the flour). Some types even called for the separation of the eggs for just whipping the whites.

However, Pan di Spagna aka Italian sponge cake is the simplest of the bunch since it requires whole eggs and just twice the amount compared to the flour.

The cake’s formula consists of eggs to sugar to flour ratio at 2:1:1 at best.

No-bake flourless cake

A flourless cake is a no-brainer especially when you’re not baking it. Think of popular types like cheese, chocolate, and mousse cakes for example. To make any of them, only three ingredients are required: The base, sweetener, and the lightener combined and chilled.

For example, A chilled cheesecake formula starts at a 2:1/2:1 ratio of cream cheese to sugar to whipped cream. This works because most bases also provide thickening and flavoring. Hence, no eggs and extracts required.

Icebox cake

This next entry is a bit of a controversial one considering it’s debatable whether it should be classified as a cake.

Nonetheless, an icebox cake is one of the simplest cakes to make given its lazy preparation.

Similar in build to a charlotte and trifle, an icebox cake is made by sandwiching whipped cream and fruit/nuts between layers of wafers--all put together in a square pan and chilled before eating. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.