Years ago I posted a recipe for my basic cake, and it's one of the most popular of all my posts. I've been baking a version of this cake for decades, almost half a century actually, soon after we got our first oven. I got the basic idea from a cookbook. Now all my cookbooks have been given away or trashed, so when I need one of my recipes, I check my blog.
This basic cake has morphed into all sorts of cakes. I've even used it as a base for ice cream cake. There was a time I made a lot of marble cakes, and when the kids were little I'd make it very low and later on pour jello to harden on it as a treat. Another version of it had cut up leftover apples baked into it. When the kids couldn't be relied on to finish their apples, I'd collect the leftovers in the fridge.
In recent years I save mushy bananas in the freezer to be mashed into the cake batter, which also gets a generous dose of chocolate chips. After all these decades I must confess that I eyeball the liquids. The only ingredients I'm really careful about are the relative amounts of flour, sugar, eggs and baking powder. Water and oil are approximated, since I know how the batter should mix. I add enough until I'm satisfied.
I bake about a month's worth of cakes and freeze them. Today six cups of flour made five cakes in loaf/Englishcake pans.
You may have wondered about the color of the cake. It's not white. I use extra fine 70% whole-wheat flour and dark brown sugar.
Here's the basic recipe for a small cake copied straight from that original blog post. You can double, triple etc. Just make sure your bowl is large enough. If you're using whole wheat flour, you may need a bit extra liquid. I add an extra egg every three cups of flour. And nowadays I use canola oil, since we never find soy in the local store. And in my modern oven I have to know the temperature, 160 Centigrade.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 t baking powder
1/6 cup oil (soy)
1/2 cup water
1 t vanilla
mix dry ingredients
add oil and water
pour in pan
bake medium heat
until pops up when gently pressed in center of cake