The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Baking a cake, farm style

Dryer door used as an opening to a chicken tractor nest box.Baking a cake on the farm is always an adventure.  As the culmination of Mark appreciation week, I decided on a rich chocolate cake that called for seven eggs...only to look in the fridge and see a mere four eggs!  So I put on my boots and coat and headed outside in search of three more.

Usually, our nine hens give us more eggs than we can eat, but this abnormal cold spell has frozen the chicken tractors in place and put our hens in a bad mood.  Some days this month, we've only gotten one egg between them.  Would we get lucky today?

I opened the nest box door in the Plymouth Rock's tractor --- one egg.  The young Golden Comets are always good for at least an egg, so I wasn't concerned there --- sure enough, one egg.  But the last tractor has Golden Comets who are finishing up their fourth year of life and are starting to slow down in their laying.  I opened the dryer door and peeked in the last nest box...and breathed a sigh of relief.  One last egg!

Mark's birthday cakeBack inside, I melted and beat and mixed.  It was the first day this year that had reached above freezing (even if only by a degree) and the cats were feeling their oats.  Every time the sun came out from behind a cloud, both cats begged to be let out.  Five minutes later, the clouds closed and two chilly cats wanted in.  My routine was a bit like this --- turn on the microwave, let in a cat, stir in the butter, let out a cat, measure the flour, let in a cat.  I think I didn't miss any ingredients (or cats.)

Finally, the cake was ready to hit the oven...except that I couldn't find the second round cake pan.  After a few minutes of looking around the kitchen with a furrowed brow, I realized that I hadn't baked a double layer cake since we stopped watering the bees in a marble-filled cake pan.  Out came the marbles, in went the batter.  Finally, the cake was in the oven and I could relax.  Happy birthday week, Mark!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Since I found out about my food allergies I have been desperately looking for a good cake recipe from scratch. I have tried several times and the cake always ends up dry and bland. I asked my parents and grandparents and they could not remeber the last time they had made a cake not using a mix. So do you have your recipe posted? and do you have any clues for the newbie. Anyhow that cake looks beautiful and I bow down to the master cook. :)
Comment by rebecca Tue Jan 12 18:39:14 2010

I can't recommend that cake recipe to a beginner --- it was delicious, but unfortunately pretty hard! I had some issues with it not coming out the pan too, which I covered up with excess frosting. :-)

Instead, I'd recommend this basic chocolate cake recipe for beginners. It's fluffy and tasty and very, very easy.

Comment by anna Tue Jan 12 19:48:58 2010

I have a recipe for a cake that doesn't have any eggs in it, which is actually our preferred chocoate cake, if you're interested!

Our chickens are being stubborn about the eggs lately too... we hardly have enough to fill our regular customer orders, and definately not enough to eat!

Comment by Bethany Wed Jan 13 10:50:33 2010
I'd love to have your eggless cake recipe, although we haven't got to quite that level yet. :-) Hopefully with the warm temperatures ahead, production will pick back up!
Comment by anna Wed Jan 13 16:08:33 2010

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