I found this recipe in a 1942 Fannie Farmer cookbook for junior cooks… which probably explains why it is such an easy and foolproof recipe to make. This delicious, wonderfully light cake makes up quickly, and although it requires only two eggs, it tastes very much like a sponge cake.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (see note below)
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare an 8-inch square cake pan. (I line the cake pan with aluminum foil and then butter and flour the aluminum foil… this method makes it very easy to remove the cake.)

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of wax paper.

Heat the milk and add the butter to it.

Beat the eggs until thick. (I use a small electric hand mixer.) Add the sugar a little at a time, continuing to beat the mixture until it is smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla.

Stir in the flour mixture. Add the hot milk and stir just enough to blend all the ingredients thoroughly.

Bake about 25 minutes until the cake shrinks slightly from the edge and the center feels springy and shows no mark when you touch it lightly with your fingertip.

The recipe says to frost the cake, sprinkle it with powdered sugar, or spread it with jam or jelly. We’re not fond of frosting here, so we eat it plain or with ice cream.

Note: It is very important that the milk is HOT… not boiling, but heated almost to that point. If cold, room temperature, or even warm milk is used in this recipe, the texture of this cake will be heavy and dense. And no, the hot milk will not cook the eggs because you will be adding it to the batter in a thin stream as you continue to stir.

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Ohh thank you for posting this recipe. It looks wonderful and the fact it has so little butter appeals. I have plenty of eggs…lol.


Don’t you just love discovering old recipes that still can turn your head in the 21st Century?! Thanks for sharing. Will definitely give this a solar try.


Gosh that cake looks good. Can I have some?


Thanks for writing about the importance of the hot milk. My mother used to make a lightning cake. I don’t have the recipe in front of me but I think it is very similar to this one. The cake she made was always so light and looks like yours. I have made her recipe several times and the cake turned out really bad. I realize now it was my fault because I didn’t heat the milk. I think I even used milk straight from the refrigerator because I didn’t realize that the temperature would make that big of a difference. I’m 68 years old and a good cook but this lightning cake has always been a thorn in my side. Now I know why I couldn’t make it like my mother’s. I guess you’re never too old to learn something, right?


I made this cake last night and it was WONDERFUL. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and also for sharing your life with us. This blog is great.


Sounds so good! going to make half of my cupcakes vanilla and the other half chocolate. Can’t wait to try it!


This is the recipe I’ve been looking for.. I once had access to a Fannie Farmer cookbook when I was younger and learning to cook. I found the F F cookbook recipes simple and easy to follow. That was many years ago. I also, like you, intend to serve cake unfrosted, just fresh peaches and frozen vanilla yogurt. YUM


This was the first cake I taught myself to bake when I was a young girl. It’s a very good cake but I had lost the recipe for it. What a wonderful thing to find it on Easter Sunday. :)

Amber Gaede

Thanks for posting the recipe. My mother used to make this cake, and I have been looking for the recipe for years!!!!! I just made it with cup-for-cup gluten free flour (celiac disease). I hope it turns out!


I have been looking for this recipe for years!! I used to make it when I was little and loved the flavor. I can’t wait to try it again. It was from the Fannie farmer jr. cookbook. I can’t find that either. Thank you.


This recipe is the same one my mom baked for our family in the 1940’s and continued to bake until she passed in 1999 ! It is listed in Fannie Farmer’s Baking Book printed in 1984 under the name “Lazy Daisy Cake “. To this day I still bake it with the traditional broiled coconut icing on it ! It always gets rave remarks when I serve it and I’m now 87 ! Icing recipe is..1/2 stick butter, 1/2 c. brown sugar,1/4 c milk or cream,1/2 c. coconut. combine first 3 ingredients in small pot and heat until all is melted. take off burner and add coconut stir well and pour over hot cake.
turn on broiler and bake cake for a minute or until bubbly and lightly toasted..WATCH CAREFULLY —BURNS EASILY ..ENJOY !!