Do you do much baking or cooking at other people’s homes? For the most part, I do not, but I do at my mom’s house and at my in-laws’.Probably because these are the 2 locations I am most likely to be hanging out at for a while and pitching in with the cooking, baking and meal planning.
Anyway, it is always a bit of a catch 22 because on the one hand I really enjoy cooking and baking and meal planning—witness this blog as my proof. And I love doing these things for and with my family in particular.
But boy do I hate cooking in other people’s kitchens.
It’s funny, isn’t it, because anyone who reads this blog knows I hate my current kitchen. It is cramped and cluttered and the oven is flat out horrible. My mom’s is spacious and the counters are empty. But my kitchen’s flaws are all flaws I have gotten used to working around.I know where everything is; I have everything I need (even if it is stored in the laundry room due to lack of space).
So I have been home at my parents’ house for the last week, and on our last night there my brother said he was going to come over and grill steaks for us (cooking is pretty much a family activity).My mom made twice baked potatoes, my sister, who was headed out of town to go to her boyfriend’s, raided her fridge for us for local salad items, and I said I would make dessert.
To me, steak means chocolate.No Ifs, Ands or Buts.It took me a while to settle on something that would make nearly everyone happy (my brother does not like dessert much so I don’t worry about him—I think all of his dessert genes must have went to me), but finally I fixed on an old standby, a recipe I found on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board, but which originated (according to the poster) with Cook’s Illustrated: Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake.
This cake has always been the pinnacle of chocolate bundt cakes for me—except when I have made it at my parents’ house!Both times now I have over-baked it there.I just cannot seem to appropriately multi-task with my kids and adjust for their oven when I am used to my weenie one.*sigh* And to add insult to injury I had to actually eye ball the chocolate!My mom had bulk chocolate and no scale.So, for me, the experience was a tad stressful.
But don’t let my ineptitude with her oven stop you from making this cake (and my mom would swear it was fine anyway—it is just that I have had it at my house and know it could be much better).It is rich, moist and chocolatey—putting any kind of glaze or icing on it would be a sin.Just a sprinkling of powdered sugar and either some vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream on the side, and you are good to go.
Speaking of the powdered sugar–that would be another thing that is different at my mom’s house (her sifter has pretty wide holes, which I am not used to), so as result the “dusting” is closer to a snow storm of powdered sugar. C’est la vie.
1 tablespoon butter , melted
1 tablespoon cocoa
¾ cup natural cocoa (2 1/4 oz)
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 t instant espresso powder
¾ cup water (boiling)
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 ¾ cups unbleached AP flour (8 ¾ oz)
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
12 T unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar (14 ounces)
1 T vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
*Personally I find Baker’s Joy easier and I don’t taste the difference.However, this method does work because my mom was out of Baker’s Joy and so I did it this way: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of standard 12-cup Bundt pan (as usual I used a 10 cup pan and made additional small cakes). (If mixture becomes too thick to brush on, microwave it for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and softened.) Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl to combine.
In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions. Reduce to medium-low speed (batter may appear separated); add about one third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan.
Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.Be certain to check on cake earlier, especially if using a smaller pan.I have found this cake to be sensitive to over-baking. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto cooling rack; cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, transfer to serving platter, and cut into wedges; serve with whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream).