Do-it-all recipes rank up there with “The Best” or its iterations: ultimate, easiest, fastest. How can a single recipe truly fit your million and one needs? Call me jaded, but I typically eye those dishes with suspicion and move on to humbler-titled recipes.

But sometimes I’m wrong. And the ‘Do-It-All Cake’ in Noma alumnus Nadine Levy Redzepi’s new book, Downtime: Deliciousness at Home, is definitely one of those moments. Levy stripped a vanilla cake to its barest essentials, allowing its buttery, comforting flavor to shine. The already-in-your-pantry ingredient list forms the ideal batter for a host of desserts—dress it up with citrus or berries, flavor it with your favorite alcohol, or drizzle a caramel or chocolate or simple glaze.

What *can't* this cake do?
What *can't* this cake do? Photo by Julia Gartland

“This may be the most valuable recipe in the whole book,” Levy says. “I make it all the time, really. It’s a great way to use most overripe or bruised fruit, or I use the batter to make a very traditional Danish Dream Cake, which is topped with caramelized brown sugar, butter, and coconut.”

Levy learned the recipe from Noma’s former pastry chef Rosio Sanchez, who has since opened her own restaurant in Copenhagen. Her version included lemon oil, but Levy wanted an even more basic batter.

“I remember tasting this cake batter the first time. It was so good—the best cake batter I have ever tried. It wasn’t too sweet, it was so rich with all the cream and vanilla, the salt gave such good balance, and then it left me with an aftertaste of cream and flour. I was transported to childhood memories of when my mom let me lick the bowl.”

Despite its simplicity, this cake tastes anything but basic. When shooting the recipe for this story, our staff inhaled every last crumb in less than 30 minutes. Once you master the format, Levy recommends experimenting with different flours, toppings, or even shapes. Your family and guests will never know that you’re making the same cake over and over again. Sounds like the perfect do-it-all recipe to me.

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Noma-Approved Do-It-All Cake

By Food52

  • 1 3/4 cups (245g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (110g) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt

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