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High Country Baking: A chocolate cake for those short on ingredients

Vera Dawson
High Country Baking
This chocolate cake is made without eggs or butter.
Courtesy Vera Dawson

Finding  it a challenge to keep a well-stocked kitchen? You’re not alone, but don’t let that stop you from baking. Just choose recipes that require fewer ingredients and provide substitutions, like this one for a chocolate cake made without eggs or butter.

It comes together quickly and easily — just combine the dry ingredients, then the wet ones and blend. The results are a pleasing single-layer cake with a light texture and mildly sweet chocolate taste. The strength of the flavor depends on your cocoa powder; I like the richness of Hershey’s Special Dark, but it’ll work with whatever you have on hand.

You can use bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour — if you use the latter, reduce the amount by two teaspoons. The halved recipe can be baked in a 7-inch round pan if you prefer a smaller cake. To make one with two layers, double the ingredients.

I frosted the cake in the photo with a simple chocolate ganache and decorated it with a rim of toffee bits. I often accompany it with raspberry or strawberry sauce and fresh berries. Ice cream or frozen yogurt with a caramel or chocolate sauce also work well with this cake.

Some swear the cake is better the day after it’s made. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

No eggs, no butter chocolate cake

Bake in a 9-inch round cake pan with a depth of at least 2 inches

Cake ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spoon and level
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine
  • Just under 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup sour cream, plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons any mild vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
Chocolate ganache ingredients (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Toffee bits (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Generously grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment and grease the paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt and whisk to mix thoroughly. In another bowl or a 4-cup measure, whisk the sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk), vegetable oil and vanilla until blended. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and whisk or beat with an electric mixer until combined. Don’t overmix.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean and the cake just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (25-30 minutes). Small cracks may form on the top, which will dome slightly. Don’t overbake or the cake will be dry.

4. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, pressing it toward the pan sides. Invert the pan onto the rack, gently remove it and carefully lift off the paper liner. Leave the cake inverted (the bottom is now the top) and let it cool completely. Once it is cooled, frost it (optional) and store it at room temperature for a day, refrigerate it for several days or freeze it for a month.

5. If you’re using the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a microwave-safe bowl in a microwave oven until it’s steaming and close to boiling. Remove it from the oven, add the chopped chocolate, make sure all of it is submerged in the cream and let the mixture rest for several minutes until the chocolate melts. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, smooth and shiny. Set it aside until it’s tepid and thickened slightly. Pour it over the cake’s top and spread it with an offset metal spatula. Decorate with toffee bits, if desired.

This cake recipe is a variation of one published in Gourmet Magazine and is adjusted for altitudes of 7,800 feet and above.

Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

Vera Dawson

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