Baking at the Beach House

The first week back after a vacation is always the hardest. Throughout the week you are left wondering: How did I get back here when I was just laying out, care free, on a vacation cloud?? As I sat down earlier today to read a book, I couldn’t help but notice that books really are better when read sitting on the beach with your toes in the sand and waves crashing all around.

If it’s not obvious already, it is my first week back home after our annual beach week vacation. Every year my mom and I, along with my Grandma, and all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins spend a week at Long Beach Island in New Jersey. Sometimes my brother comes along as well, but my dad isn’t much of a beach person so we leave him home to take care of the dogs. 😉

My Uncle Michael’s birthday always happens to fall within the week of our vacation and it is always celebrated with his favorites: crabs and clams. This year a cake was also on the menu! I wanted to make a chocolate cake, but I knew that baking at the beach house was going to require a little more planning than baking at home. I decided on a bundt cake because, unlike a layer cake, there is no slicing or filling involved and it takes very little effort to make a bundt cake look beautiful. I was also looking for a recipe that didn’t require any beating or creaming of butter and sugar or any whipping of egg whites because I knew our beach house didn’t come equipped with a Kitchen Aid mixer like my kitchen at home. After many google searches and cookbook flipping, I came across this recipe and with a few tweaks I knew it would be the perfect cake to bake at the beach.

The day before we left for the beach I measured out all the dry ingredients I was going to need; separating the ingredients based on how they would need to come together once I was ready to bake the cake. Cocoa powder and instant espresso powder in one bag, sugar in another, and flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in another. I also brought along the vanilla extract in a little container and the extra tablespoon of cocoa powder I would need for coating the pan. The best part is, it all fits nicely inside the bundt pan and the only things left to get when we got to the beach were butter, eggs, and sour cream!

I paired this cake with a tangy chocolate frosting made from sour cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s a great way to use up the sour cream thats left over from making the cake and it tastes great. It has just the right amount of tang to perfectly compliment the rich chocolate cake. If you’re turning your nose up right now thinking: “Sour cream? In my chocolate frosting? You’ve gotta be kidding me” a chocolate ganache or a nice dusting of powdered sugar will certainly suffice. But definitely use up that left over sour cream. If not in your chocolate frosting… maybe a taco?

Fudgey Chocolate Bundt Cake

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour


    For Greasing the Pan:
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbs Cocoa powder
  • For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 16 Tbs unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. To grease the bundt pan, combine the melted butter with the cocoa powder to make a smooth paste. Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of the bundt pan with the paste. Make sure to coat every nook and cranny and go all the way up the sides of the pan.
  2. To Make the Cake:
  3. Place the butter, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, and water into a heat proof bowl or saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly until the butter melts and you have a homogenous, chocolatey mixture. This can be done in the microwave or over a pot with one inch of barely simmering water. Set mixture aside to cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix into the chocolate batter and stir until combined.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes, until a long toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the pan over onto a wire rack and leave to cool for an additional 5 minutes, then lift the pan off the cake and leave the cake on the wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Tangy Chocolate Frosting

  • Servings: makes about 1 1/2 cups
  • Print

Recipe adapted from Food 52


  • ¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Melt chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Once melted let cool to room temperature.
  2. Once chocolate has cooled to room temperature, mix with the sour cream and stir until combined. It is very important that the sour cream and the chocolate are both at room temperature, if not, the mixture will turn lumpy. If unsure as to whether the chocolate and sour cream are ready to be combined, do a little test by stirring about a tablespoon of each in a little bowl. If the test batch turns out smooth, you are ready to make some frosting!

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