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As much as I was itching to, it took a while for me to be able to bake again.  While we did ship some particularly loved or difficult-to-replace equipment, there was so much that was too heavy or bulky that it wasn’t worth it, and a lot of demands were further up the priority chain than finding a restaurant supply store so I could fill in the gaps.

As soon as I got home from stocking up on baking sheets, cake pans, cooling racks and pie pans, I immediately had to throw together something to fill the house with the aroma of vanilla, butter and sugar.  The pantry is still pretty spartan, a state I may even try to maintain deliberately to combat the pack-rat tendencies that necessitated all the tossing just a few weeks ago.  In looking at the basics I did have and considering what could be quickly made from them, I fell back on Chlotilde’s nearly-instantaneous yogurt cake.

Since we had a nearly-full container of it, I substituted sour cream for the yogurt, and while I was at it, I threw in a few small bars of chocolate from the vestiges of the strategic chocolate reserve.

What, you thought the reserve had gone the way of the rest of the pantry dregs?  Ah, no, my little chickadees.  That is not the way we roll chez Disdain.  What was left was swept into a cooler with the biscotti, some honeycrisp apples and a couple of other snacks and stashed behind the driver’s seat for the trip.  Not only is chocolate never, ever, ever to be thrown out, but we had to be prepared if, god forbid, we got stuck in South Dakota or something.  And we did!  Circumstances were not nearly dire enough to necessitate draining the supply, but still!  They could have been!

Anyway, less than an hour after scraping the batter into my brand-new pan and popping it into the oven, I was cutting into a fragrant, buttery, chocolate-flecked symbol of home. Made with sour cream, the cake lacks the whisper of sourness yogurt imparts and offers nothing but elegant, melting richness.  It undoubtedly destroyed what little health value might have been residual in the original cake, but I think I like the end product made with sour cream even better.

Whether you have an empty new house or last-minute guests, this is instant grace.

Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Chunks
(Adapted significantly from Chlotilde’s Yogurt Cake)
Serves 6-8

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line the bottom of a 9- or 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil, greasing the sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture, stirring until it just comes together.  Gently fold in the chocolate.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and springy, and a tester comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool.


A 10-inch pan is ideal since it will produce a less domed top, but 9-inch is what I have.

I see no reason you couldn’t use light sour cream if you wanted to make this just a wee bit less decadent.  Conversely, you could bump up the proportion of chocolate, but I actually think this relatively spare amount was just right.