I’ve had a really hard time writing the last couple weeks. I feel like I have nothing to say or any worthwhile advice on cooking. It’s hard to come up with a new recipe that will inspire people to cook when you don’t feel like cooking yourself.

I know I’m not alone, because my Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with bland recipes. 

Vanilla cake, bread, plain doughnuts, cinnamon rolls with vanilla frosting, vanilla cheesecake, rice crispy bars, chicken and rice and pasta with bland cream sauce. I even called my brother for help and asked him what he was cooking for dinner. He was making creamed tuna on toast! What happened to all the green salads, vegetables, and chocolate? Go look for yourself—it’s weird.

Before I got laid off, a coworker said, “It’s like waking up and every day is Friday the 13th on the Twilight Zone.” Yes, it is. Come out of it we must. There is nothing wrong with baking and cooking bland or comforting foods. I love them, too. At some point we will be back to craving vegetables and chocolate, but until then vanilla cake and with vanilla sauce it is. 

Dairy Cake with Vanilla Dream Sauce

Serves 12

2 1/2 cups cake flour 

2 Tbsp. buttermilk powder

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 large eggs 

1 3/4 cup sugar 

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups half and half or whipping cream 

Preheat oven to 325º. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, buttermilk powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer for about a minute until nice and frothy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick. Add the vanilla. Alternate adding 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter and then 1/2 of the half and half until combined, stirring after each addition. 

 Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

While the cake is baking, prepare the sauce.

Vanilla Dream Sauce

3⁄4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 egg yolks

3 Tbsp. butter 

2 cups whole milk

2 tsp. vanilla 

In a saucepan, mix the sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Slowly add the milk while stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over medium heat and stir constantly, until thick and smooth; about 7-9 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add egg yolks while whisking quickly. Return to heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Cool slightly and serve warm spooned over Dairy Cake. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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