At the moment:
the kid is sick.
the husband is at the grocery.
I am covered with paint.
(I scraped a little something off my shirt and licked my finger a moment ago, not thinking that it might have been acrylic rather than cake batter. I lucked out.)
THIS is my favorite cake recipe, combining, as it does, ease, pantry ingredients, deliciousness and fanciness.
I found this in a La Madeleine cookbook that my brother gave me years ago. As near as I can tell, this book is not currently available (which is kind of a drag, because it's quite good and I can't find my copy, but it does make me feel better about putting the recipe here.)
Cake Tres Simple
Put some water on to boil, and preheat the oven to 400.
In addition to a cake pan and a couple of bowls, you'll need a large pan to use as a bain marie, some parchment or foil, and a spoon rest.
Put 2 sticks of butter and 9 oz of chocolate in a bowl. (I usually combine a cup of chocolate chips with 3 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate.) Melt this by nuking 30 seconds, stirring with a fork of a minute or so, and repeating until its completely smooth and liquid.
Transfer this to the bowl of your mixer, if you have one. Mix in:
4 eggs (one at a time)
then 1 cup of sugar (a quarter cup at a time)
then 3/4 cup of flour (also a quarter cup at a time.) Scrape down the sides and mix one more time.
To prepare the pan - butter a cake pan, and cut a circle of parchment or foil to fit the bottom of the pan. Dust the pan with cocoa (FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, DO THIS OVER THE SINK. SERIOUSLY.) Transfer the batter into the cake pan - it's thicker than regular batter, you'll have to spread it in the pan.
When the oven is ready, put the larger bain marie pan on a middle rack, pour in about an inch of hot water, then gently place the filled cake pan in it.
Bake for 25 minutes, then start checking. The cake forms sort of a 'crust' on the outside, while the inside stays a little gooey (in a good way.) A knife or toothpick should come out mostly clean. It'll be done somewhere between 30 and 50 minutes.
Ideally, you would let this cool completely in the pan, and let it rest overnight. To serve, unmold it onto a plate, gently peel off the parchment, and dust with powdered sugar.
This is a serious cake.