Self-catering holiday accommodation - we've all been there... you find yourself on a rainy day wanting to keep the kids happy and decide to bake a cake. But no matter how well-equipped your vacation home is, there are usually a few essential items missing. Cake tins, for example. Easily remedied by baking in a casserole or heat-resistant coffee cups. No mixer? At a push you might get away with a spatula/wooden spoon. But what about scales? Our cabin on the farm near Salzburg which we've now rented two years in a row (with no intentions of breaking with this new-found tradition any time soon!) is exceptionally well equipped and the farmers are always happy to help out, but I had no scales and couldn't well leave the kids alone in the cabin (but frankly, I had no intentions of getting my sorry behind soaking wet in the weather that was raging outside, anyway!) I remembered a recipe torn out of a newspaper which has been hanging on my mother-in-law's pinboard for years and years: this uses a cup of sour cream (typically 250g in Austria, but it works just as well with 200g - the consistency might vary, but why stress when you're on vacation?) and measures all the other ingredients in that same cup - perfect!
So a phone call and one SMS later and I found myself in the kitchen with the boys, letting the older one measure everything out with the emptied sour cream container and he made the whole cake entirely by himself - he even braved the rain to pick up some apples in the garden to put on top. The little one got to lick the spoon... and had to endure his Mum taking pictures of his face covered in chocolate for hours... bless!
This cake is easily put together and depending on what you have at hand, you can use melted or grated chocolate or, as per original recipe, cocoa powder. The end result will differ in that the melted chocolate (picture) will give you a wonderfully moist and gooey consistency, whereas using cocoa will make the cake lighter and fluffier. With grated chocolate, the cake will have more of a speckled look. I have tried them all and they were all delicious in their own way. And as I appreciate that you might not be able to buy a 250g tub of sour cream, you can either use a regular US cup measure or resort to scales - as I have converted the recipe to metric for you as well. No excuse then... just wait for a rainy day and get creative in the kitchen!
Easy no-weigh chocolate cake with apples*
(serves 8 - 12)
1 cup (250 g) sour cream
1 cup (160 g ) flour
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup (140 g) roasted, ground hazelnuts (any nut will do, really)
1 cup (160 g) pure cane/granulated sugar**
3 medium eggs
1 cup (250 g) chocolate***
1 tsp baking powder
Optional: 2 large apples (cored and cut into 1-2 cm pieces)
Pre-heat oven to 175C.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or pot, whatever you can find in your vacation home, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to reach a smooth consistency.
Find a heat-resistant container to bake your cake in. A glass casserole, ramekins, coffee cups or a simple baking tray. Butter the container and pour in the cake dough. Top with the apples or use some chopped nuts (optional).
Bake for 50 minutes.
(I used a simple casserole dish, if you only have a baking tray at hand or find a cake tin, please adjust the cooking time accordingly.)
* The thought behind this cake is that you can bake it without scales. The container for the sour cream is used for measuring all the other ingredients. For the amount of eggs this recipe uses, a 250 g container is optimal, but 200 g will work just as well. If yours is smaller or bigger, re-adjust by upping or lowering the amount of eggs used.
For those among you who can't buy sour cream in cups, you can either use an American cup measure or if you do have scales, I have converted the recipe to metric as well.
** I tend to always reduce the amount of sugar used. My sugar is quite coarse, if you are using caster sugar or confectioner's sugar, don't fill the cup all the way up.
*** You can use melted or grated chocolate or, as per original recipe, cocoa powder. The end result will differ in that the melted chocolate (picture) will give you a wonderfully moist and gooey consistency, so rich that your cake will go a very long way! Using cocoa, on the other hand, will make the cake lighter and fluffier and with grated chocolate, the cake will have more of a speckled look. All will be delicious!