Our Most Popular Dessert of 2023 Is Delightfully Retro

A 3-ingredient dessert our readers loved and returned to again and again.

<p>Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm</p>

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

When my sweet tooth kicks in, it hits me hard. I quickly scramble through the kitchen looking for a treat to satisfy it and am often left with nothing by a dusty chocolate bar from the back of the pantry.

That’s why I am always on the hunt for quick dessert recipes. I keep them filed away for when nothing but a chocolate chip cookie or warm, fudgy brownie will do. So when I read about sad cake earlier this year—a recipe our Senior Editor Sara Bir discovered in The Lubbock Women’s Club Cookbook from 1983—I wasn’t just attracted to the intriguing name. What really piqued my interest was the super short ingredient list and the quick and simple instructions.

For these reasons and more, sad cake was Simply Recipes' most popular dessert recipe of 2023.

My Experience With Sad Cake

This retro recipe was originally titled “Sad, Sad Cake” in the community cookbook, and calls for Bisquick, eggs, and brown sugar. To make it, you simply combine the ingredients by hand, pour the batter into a greased pan, and bake until the cake has risen. It then falls and reveals a glossy, crackly top.

Bisquick is a nostalgic ingredient for me. It’s something my parents always kept stocked in our kitchen pantry to make pancakes and biscuits with, so I love that this recipe utilizes it. The baking mix contains flour, shortening, salt, sugar, and baking powder, allowing you to skip reaching for them individually.

Sara tweaked the retro recipe ever so slightly by adding shredded coconut, which she says “added a dimension and oomph that even coconut haters preferred.” While not a coconut hater, I am also not a coconut enthusiast, so I wanted to see if her claim held up. I made her recipe as stated and hoped for the best.

The results were just as readers described: “a sweet, slightly caramel-y cake with bites of coconut (that) was pleasant to eat” and “very easy and so delicious.”

It was a chewy, butterscotch-like treat that wasn’t too far off from a blondie. In fact, reader Julie said her and her family “decided to call them coconut blondies” after baking them and I couldn’t agree more.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sheela Prakash</p>

Simply Recipes / Sheela Prakash

My Tips and Tricks for Making Sad Cake

What I’ve learned after baking this cake a few times is that there is endless room for experimentation. Here’s how I’ve successfully fiddled with the cake:

  • If you happen to be without Bisquick, you can make your own substitute. Combine one cup all-purpose flour, one tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt for every cup of Bisquick called for. Combine the ingredients in a bowl with a fork before using it in the recipe.

  • This recipe yields 24 bars to feed a crowd, but can easily be halved and baked in an 8x8-inch baking pan instead, if you prefer. Start checking the cake at the 25-minute mark.

  • Sara offers several sad cake variations in her original post and my favorite so far has been chopped dark chocolate, which gives a cake a flavor profile similar to Mounds candy bars. I’ve also replaced the sweetened shredded coconut with unsweetened without trouble and folded in dried fruit. Adding 1/2 to one teaspoon (depending on how spiced you like your sweets) of ground cinnamon or cardamom is also nice, as is a splash of vanilla extract.

Get Recipe with Title: 3-Ingredient Sad Cake Is the Retro Dessert That Deserves a Comeback

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.