Editor’s note: the high altitudes cause the cookies to spill over the pan, the cakes to fall and few baked goods turn out like at sea level. This section presents recipes and tips for successful mountain baking .
March 2020 – last time we had friends for dinner. Since then, I only cook for two people, my husband and I. So I narrowed down a lot of recipes and looked for smaller recipes when I could find them. This chocolate cupcake is a good example. This makes a 6 inch one layer cake that makes four servings, six if I cut it into small slices. With a dense texture that plays well on a velvety whipped ganache filling, it’s quite good and a perfect size for us. We get a delicious dessert for two or three meals, and we don’t have to worry about leftovers.
The cake assembles quickly and is easy to prepare. Just be sure not to over mix the batter once you’ve mixed the wet and dry ingredients together and remove the cake from the oven the minute it’s ready. At high altitudes, a little extra baking time can make a cake’s texture dry and unappealing.
Don’t feel like whipping the ganache? No problem, just give it five to 10 minutes to thicken after making it, then spread it on top of the cake and refrigerate until the ganache has firmed. Although you won’t be able to piper it, it will be just as delicious.
Chocolate cake for four servings
Adjusted for altitudes of 7,800 feet and above; Make in a 6 inch shiny metal cake pan with 2 inch sides
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
- ¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon of mild vegetable oil
- ½ cup superfine granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sour cream or buttermilk
Whipped chocolate ganache
- 4 (four) ounces of high quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ (one-half) cup heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Grease the mold with cooking spray containing flour, line the bottom with a circle with baking paper and grease the paper. Set the pan aside.
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda espresso powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, egg, vanilla and sour cream / buttermilk to combine well, then add mixture to dry ingredients. Whisk or stir gently (try to avoid air bubbles) only until a smooth paste forms. Do not over mix or the cake may be hard.
- Scrape the dough into the prepared mold and level it. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is set, the sides begin to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 26-30 minutes. Overcooking will result in a dry cake, so watch carefully. Move the cake to a wire rack and let it cool completely in the pan. It can be frozen, tightly packaged, at this point.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache as it needs to cool before using. Place finely chopped chocolate in a 2-cup measuring cup or bowl. Pour the heavy cream into a microwave-safe container and heat in a microwave oven at medium heat until very hot, just before boiling. Take it out of the oven, pour it over the chocolate, immersing everything in the liquid and let stand 3-4 minutes so that the chocolate begins to melt. Stir gently (do not air bubbles) until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Reserve the ganache to thicken and cool completely, at least 2h30. Set up your electric mixer with a whisk if you have one and whisk on medium-high speed for 4-5 minutes, until the mixture lightens in color and maintains peaks as you lift the whisk / mixer.
- If your cake is domed, gently shave the top off with a sharp knife until it is even, then turn it over, so that the bottom is now the top, which is the flattest and smoothest surface. for freezing. Poach the ganache decoratively mounted all over the top of the cake. Leave the cake for several hours or, if possible, a day for the flavors to blend before serving. Store it in the refrigerator, well covered, for 3 days. Serve it at room temperature.
This recipe is a variation of the one posted on the Sally’s Baking Addiction website. Vera Dawson, Ph.D., is an altitude baking instructor and author of three high altitude cookbooks (available from The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She has lived in the Rockies since 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes to work at our elevation ever since. Contact her at [email protected].