Made-in-the-pan cakes have been bailing me out of kitchen emergencies more often than efficiency might require.

Such cakes couldn't be easier to put together -- just mix the batter, bake the cake, serve it at the table and store it for later, all in the same pan. Should unexpected company send you rushing to the kitchen to bake a quick dessert, you're likely to find all the ingredients for a made-in-the-pan cake on the shelf. There's no need to grease the pan or sift the flour, sugar, spices, and cocoa -- and with only a measuring spoon, cup and fork to wash, cleanup is insignificant.

Children find these recipes just challenging enough to delight in the dramatic results. Since the simple skills required guarantee success every time, kids can bake these cakes without supervision. Baking a one-pan cake is something even very young children can do with the babysitter. Set out the ingredients before you leave and enjoy the results when you return -- if you can find a crumb or two remaining.

The method of preparation hardly varies from recipe to recipe. An 8- or 9-inch-square cake pan -- preferably stainless steel, although glass will work, too -- acts as mixing bowl and baking pan. Dry ingredients are dumped into the pan and blended with a fork, eliminating the need for sifting. Liquid ingredients such as oil, vinegar and vanilla are stirred in, also with a fork -- no electric beaters necessary -- before water is poured over the top. The oil in the recipes makes the cakes light and keeps them from sticking to the pan.

The cakes are baked in a moderate oven for 30 to 45 minutes, and are ready to serve after a few minutes' cooling time. To hide the pan, drop it in a basket or surround it with shiny leaves or similar garnish.

Some made-in-the-pan cakes produce their own toppings while they bake, as does fudge pudding cake with nuts, which is a sweet and chocolatey complete dessert by itself. With others the topping is spread on when they are cool. Fruity cheesecake tastes terrific topped with blueberry, blackberry or cherry pie filling.

Spice cake, gingerbread, carrot cake, applesauce cake and chocolate cake can be topped with a favorite frosting or glaze, sprinkled with powdered sugar, decorated with nuts, or, if you're really rushed, served as is.

No one will guess -- or object -- that you made it in the pan. DEANNA'S CHOCOLATE FUDGE PUDDING CAKE (6 servings) 1 cup flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa 1/2 cup milk 2 tablespoons melted shortening, or oil 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 cup brown sugar 1 3/4 cups hot water

Using a fork, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and 2 tablespoons cocoa in a 9-inch square pan. Stir in milk and shortening. Blend in nuts. Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa and sprinkle over batter. Pour water over all. Bake in a 350-degree oven until cake around edges of pan is firm but not burned, between 30 and 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of lightly whipped cream. ROSS' SPICE CAKE (8 servings) 1 1/4 cups flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup brown sugar, packed 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon allspice 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/3 cup oil 1 tablespoon vinegar 1 cup water 1/2 cup golden raisins

Using a fork, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt, ginger and nutmeg in a 9-inch-square pan. Blend in oil, vinegar and water. Stir in raisins. Bake in a 350-degree oven until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack. JUDY'S CHOCOLATE CAKE (8 servings) 1 1/4 cups flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 3 tablespoons cocoa 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/3 cup oil 1 tablespoon vinegar 1 cup cold water Chocolate glaze or confectioners' sugar for topping

Using a fork, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, cinnamon and salt in an 8- or 9-inch-square pan. Add vanilla, oil, vinegar, and water, and mix until well blended. Bake in a 350-degree oven until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack. Top with a chocolate glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. LEMON CAKE (8 servings) 1 1/2 cups flour 1 cup sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 cup milk 1/3 cup oil 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel 3 tablespoons lemon juice 2/3 cup sugar

Using a fork, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a 9-inch-square pan. Stir in eggs, milk, oil and lemon peel. Bake in a 350-degree oven until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Combine lemon juice and sugar and pour over top of cake. Bake 5 minutes more. If any syrup collects around edges of cake, spoon it over the top. Cool on a rack. FRUITY CHEESECAKE (8 servings) 16 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 cup sour cream 21-ounce can blueberry, blackberry, or cherry pie filling

Using a fork, mash cream cheese in an 8- or 9-inch-square pan. Add salt, flour and sugar, and mix well. Add vanilla, lemon juice and sour cream and blend well. Smooth top and scrape down sides. Bake in a 350-degree oven until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool on a rack. When cool, spread pie filling evenly over top. Chill before serving. JOAN'S GRANDMOTHER'S CAKE (8 servings) 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cocoa 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 tablespoon vinegar 5 tablespoons shortening, melted, or oil 1 cup cold water 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate bits

Using a fork, combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa and baking soda in an 8-inch-square pan. Stir in vanilla, vinegar and the shortening or oil. Pour water over all. Stir well. Sprinkle with chocolate bits. Bake in a 350-degree oven until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.