100 Techniques

Technique #72: Make Almost No-Bowl Cakes With a Food Processor

Easy, quick, and most importantly… deliciously satisfying.

Published Aug. 21, 2023.

This is Technique #72 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master

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We love snacking cakes (also delightfully known as everyday cakes), the kind you crave with midafternoon tea or coffee. Though by definition they should be supereasy, it isn't always the case. To fix that, we pulled out the food processor.

A pound cake should be the ultimate easy cake. After all, it’s basically eggs, butter, sugar, and flour, mixed together and baked in a loaf pan.

But if it’s so easy, why do pound cakes so often turn out spongy, rubbery, heavy, and dry rather than fine- crumbed, rich, moist, and buttery?

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Do Away With Finicky Methods

The particular problem with pound cake is that because of the high number of eggs, most recipes use a finicky mixing and creaming method in which all the ingredients need to be at precisely the right temperature and the batter needs to be mixed for a precise amount of time; otherwise, instead of emulsifying properly, the batter turns into a curdled, broken mess—and there's no way to save it.

Melt the Butter

Looking for a simpler, foolproof way to make this everyday cake, we found a less fussy approach to mixing the batter: Rather than using softened butter, which is typically called for, we used hot melted butter, a method often used for quick breads. Melting the butter eliminated all of the issues associated with creaming.


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Use a Food Processor

The fast-moving blade of the processor, in conjunction with the hot butter, emulsified the liquid ingredients quickly and consistently before they ever had a chance to curdle.

We call our technique “almost no-bowl” because we transferred the liquidy mixture to a bowl and sifted in the cake flour by hand and folded it in with a whisk, to be extra-sure no pockets of flour would mar our cake.

You could, however, blend in the flour using the food processor, if you wish.

Because of the emulsion, the food processor is particularly well suited to mixing pound cake batter. But it’s great for other snacking cakes that don’t require such a precise emulsion; for example, carrot cake typically requires lots of chopping or shredding by hand.

We devised a recipe that uses the food processor to do it all: chop the carrots and nuts, mix the batter, and even make the frosting—everything but bake the cake!

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Step-by-Step: How To Make Almost No-Bowl Cakes With a Food Processor

You may not think of turning to your food processor to make the perfect everyday cake, but this technique saves both time and fuss in the kitchen. Using melted butter (rather than waiting for cold butter to come to room temp) and allowing the food processor to chop any mix-ins like nuts are small but clever swaps to make your life easier.

Follow our recipe for Easy Pound Cake, then read below for our step-by-step guide below to get this technique right.

Step 1A: [For Batter] Process Ingredients 

Process sugar, eggs, and any spices or extracts in food processor until mixture is combined.

Step 2A: Add Butter 

With processor running, add hot melted butter in steady stream and process until emulsified.

Step 3A: Sift and Whisk 

Transfer to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture in 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition until few streaks of flour remain. Continue to whisk batter gently until almost no lumps remain (do not overmix).

Step 1B: [For Shredded or Chopped Ingredients] Shred in Food Processor

Process items like carrots with shredding disk before making batter.

Step 2B: Chop in Food Processor 

Process items like nuts with chopping blade before making batter.

Step 1C: [For Frosting] Add Ingredients and Process

Process wet ingredients in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sugar and process until incorporated and frosting is creamy and glossy.

Recipes That Use This Technique

It’s not a technique that requires that much practice—after all, it’s going to simplify your afternoon snacking routine. But armed with the right recipe, you can perfect the everyday cake without any extra time or fuss in the kitchen. Try a few of our favorite recipes below that employ this technique.


Easy Pound Cake

When it comes to flavor and texture, dessert doesn’t get more straightforward than pound cake. But the classic recipe is notoriously fussy to make. Our version isn’t.
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Lemon Pound Cake

Unfortunately, many recipes for this classic recipe turn out heavy, leaden, dry cakes. We wanted a moist, tender, lemony pound cake. For potent lemon flavor, add lemon zest to the cake batter, brush the just-baked cake with lemon syrup, and then spread the cooled cake with lemon glaze.
Get the Recipe

Almond Pound Cake

Don't be fooled by its short ingredient list—pound cake is far from simple. More often than not, it bakes up heavy, squat, and dense.
Get the Recipe

Easy Ginger Pound Cake

When it comes to flavor and texture, dessert doesn’t get more straightforward than pound cake. But the classic recipe is notoriously fussy to make. Our version isn’t.
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Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Was there way to avoid dense, soggy carrot cake and produce a streamlined recipe at the same time?
Get the Recipe

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