I have a quick pork chop recipe for you guys today! Pan fried pork chops. Big on flavour and little on time. My favourite kind of recipe to be honest! So, let’s get started. I bought some local chops from the meat shop the other …
I miss baking, and with everything that’s going, I feel the absence of my oven more so than ever. Our country has extended the national shut down until May 3rd and I really am not optimistic that we will get the all clear or even a modified all clear that will see me getting a new stove on May 4th.
So, what to do?
Thanks to the extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to experiment with stove top “baking” and today I’m going to share with you Experiment #2 a.k.a. chocolate cake. Experiment #3 a.k.a a loaf of bread was also a huge success – I may post at a later date.
Some time back, I was in a cast iron phase, where I was just interested in cooking everything via that method. I got my hands on a few skillets locally (ridiculously expensive in stores – including the Lodge ones!) and a dutch oven from a little store that sold odds and ends. I’ve used the dutch oven a few times in the past to make turkey stew, oxtail and meat filling for many a lasagna with wonderful results. However, this is the part where I confess that I can get very laid back at times and I did so often when it came to my cast iron babies.
I neglected them and thought that it was just too much work to clean, ultimately de-rust (yes, I’m that lazy that I let them go this far), and re-season them. Thankfully, I found my way back to them and I’m in love again.
Right, so, since I’ve been really wanting/ needing to bake, I started researching stovetop baking and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is indeed “a thing” and a thing that can be done successfully. Some people used large aluminium pots but I thought I would bring my trusty dutch oven out of the dark pantry and in to the light and see if I could work similar magic as these other folks out there baking cakes and bread on their stoves. After all, it has oven in its name, right?
My investigations lead me to believe that putting salt in the bottom of the pot (some people use sand), and something metallic for your pan to sit on was the best combination. Some people let it go without salt, sand or water and just heated their pot without any medium. Some people believed that loosely covering the pot was best, while others thought it was best to have a nice seal. I went with the nice seal option because, well that was the cover the pot came with and I wasn’t interested in finding one that fit the pot and be loose at the same time. I basically worked with what I had.
So, all that was left to do was to “bake” the cake. I whipped up a cake (without the use of a mixer) and poured it into a greased and floured pan and lowered it into the preheated dutch oven (I pre-heated it on the stove at high heat for about five minutes and then moved it to the back burner for about 50 minutes. Check your cake at 35 then 40 minutes until done.
This recipe (at the end of this post) yielded two 8 inch cakes (that I had to “bake” separately as I didn’t have another large enough pot to act as an oven. But you can totally do both at the same time if you have enough pots, trivets etc). The cake turned out beautifully – moist and tender and most importantly absolutely delicious! Now, for this particular recipe and for this way of making the cake, I recommend letting it rest in the fridge for about one to two hours and it will be perfect.
Here’s my process!
We enjoyed this cake to the very last crumb and I’ll be making more cakes this way until I get a new stove. I hope that you give this a try even if you do have an oven that’s working. If you do, drop me a comment and let me know how it went.
No Oven Needed Chocolate Cake
- Measuring spoons and cups
- 2 cups flour all purpose
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder for baking
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs beatn
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup vegetable oil neutral taste
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Grease and flour two 8 inch round pans.
- Into your large dutch oven, pour some cheap salt and spread out to cover the bottom of the pot. Put your trivet in the pot (or whatever metal instrument you are using to raise the cake pan off of the bottom of the pot).
- Place the dutch oven over high heat and let it "preheat" for about five minutes, covered.
- In one bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients (including the sugar).
- In another large bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet all at once and whisk until well combined. Batter will be very runny.
- Pour into the prepared pans. If you have two large pots to do both cakes at once on the stovetop, then go for it. If not, you can put one in the fridge while the other cooks.
- Carefully lower the pans on to the trivet and close the lid. No need to cover the pan itself with foil.
- Carefully move the entire dutch oven to the back burner and allow it to cook on medium heat for about 50 minutes. Make sure to check for doneness at 35 minutes, then 40 minutes.
- The cake is done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in their tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Frost with your favourite icing recipe.
- Allow to rest in the fridge for an hour or two before slicing.
I love to bake and I love to cook. I find both activities very satisfying, especially when they turn out as expected, or better than. Like so many people around the world right now, we are restricting our outdoor activities and spending the majority of time at home. And like so many, I have been feeling a certain understandable and expected degree of anxiety about… well everything right now.
This is where baking and cooking comes in. I find it therapeutic and at the end of the process, I usually have something delicious to eat. Which reminds me, I need to start making some healthier social distancing snacks for when things turn towards the better! I may be a just a little too baking happy right now!
Today, in the spirit of keeping busy and answering the age old question of “what’s there to eat?” I decided to challenge myself to make some vanilla cupcakes based off of a formula rather than a strict recipe. Kind of like when I made a banana bread in much the same way, I went looking for some tried and true methods and found this helpful site that allowed me to figure it out.
Here’s how mine turned out:
There were a few things I wanted in my recipe that influenced some ingredients that otherwise may not have been included in the basic formula. For example, I love sour cream in cakes. It lends to a tender crumb that makes everything so, so much better. Once there is sour cream or greek yogurt (a good substitute for sour cream) in your cake recipe, you’ll need to add baking soda to the mix. This is because sour cream and the greek yogurt are acidic and the baking soda reacts with them to give a light, yet moist cake.
I also wanted to ensure that the cupcakes were as light as possible and so I used egg whites alone instead of whole eggs. Also, I used melted butter because that too also lends a softer texture to the cupcakes.
Another change I made was to use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. It gave a more vanilla-y taste and the aesthetics of those little black flecks in both the cupcakes and the frosting were quite appealing. (Here’s a pic of the brand I used but please note this is not a sponsored post! It is my first time using the paste instead of the extract or the bean itself and I just wanted to share).
Now, on to the recipe. According to the interwebs, this is the basic formula you should follow for perfect cakes. Now, I have some experience baking and I had to adjust the milk content to get the batter to how I think I should look and feel. I’m sure environmental factors like heat and altitude would possibly cause varying results, but for the most part, I am confident in this formula.
-Sugar must equal to flour (by weight, not volume)
-Eggs plus milk must equal to flour
-Fat must equal to eggs
Some other rules:
For every one cup of flour, use
-1 tsp of baking powder (I kept it at 1 tsp even though I had more flour because of the other leavening agents present in the cupcakes already)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp of baking soda (as we are using sour cream in our recipe)
My numbers didn’t come out exact because, well, real life LOL! But I did try to get as close to what was required as was possible. So without further ado, here’s the recipe.
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- Cupcake tin
- Cupcake papers
- Bamboo skewer for testing
- 1 2/3 cup flour all purpose (200 g approx)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter (113 g approx), melted
- 1 cup sugar granulated (200 g approx)
- 3 large egg whites (110 g approx), room temperature
- 3/4 cup milk almond, cashew or regular cow's, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 4 cups icing sugar extra in case frosting is too thin, sifted for lumps
- 2 sticks butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream extra in case frosting is too thick
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add cupcake liners to cupcake tin.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the dry ingredients i.e.flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate medium sized bowl, mix together the wet ingredients i.e. the melted butter, sugar, egg whites, sour cream, milk and vanilla bean paste.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Be careful not to overmix but do not leave too many, if any, flour lumps.
- Add by 1/4 cupfuls to the cupcake papers.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes, depending on your oven. Skewer should be dry when testing for doneness. I had to go for 23 minutes.
- Remove from cupcake tin and allow to cool completely on cooling rack before piping with frosting.
For the Vanilla Frosting
- Add the room temperature butter to the bowl of your mixer (standing or hand, but I used standing) and beat until it looks paler in colour.
- Add the icing sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste and beat until well combined.
- If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon at a time of heavy cream to thin it out a little. If it is too thin, add some sifted icing sugar to thicken up.
Have an up close look at those beautiful flecks of vanilla bean. I highly recommend at least trying it once if you’ve never before!
And last but not least, take a look at the crumb. The sour cream and melted butter did their jobs well.
Let me know if you’ve ever tried cupcakes from a formula instead of a strict recipe and how it turned out. And for sure I’d love to know if you tried this particular recipe and how it worked for you.
Before I leave you to go rush off to try your hand at these goodies, I want to wish you all calm in the midst of this uncertainty and safety and good health to you and yours.
Let me introduce you to another family favourite of ours. Lemon Pound Cake. Tender, light deliciousness in a bundt pan – what’s not to love?
My early memories of pound cake always involved me adamantly refusing to have any after an especially not-so-tasty slice served by someone or the other at a family gathering. It was greasy and as the name suggests, heavy to eat.
Never again! I swore, that is until I found this gem of a recipe that changed my pound cake aversion. I believe that the secret to making this particular cake so light and fluffy is the buttermilk – I suggest not skipping this ingredient at all. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, simply add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let stand until it curdles.
The recipe also calls for a lemon syrup to top the cake with and, no – it does not overwhelm the cake one bit. It locks in the moisture of the cake and helps it not to dry out. Who wants dry pound cake anyways, right?
The only adjustments I made was to the icing – I used 1 1/3 cups of icing sugar and a little over 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to make the glaze a bit thicker and I didn’t sugar my bundt pan – the recipe calls for quite a bit of sugar and I didn’t think it needed more. We didn’t miss it either – so options for you.
So here we are, my efforts at Once Upon a Thief’s Lemon Pound Cake. Great with a nice hot cup of tea, as a snack and for lunchboxes. Link below for recipe.