Sunday, 24 June 2012

Chalet girl cake

A few years back when I was a little younger, I spent a couple of months working as a chalet assistant in Courchevel, in the French Alps. I turned up in this little ski town, found myself a job as quickly as I could (replacing a girl who was being sent home with a broken arm), and got set in learning to ski.

My day involved rolling out of my bunk bed at 6.30am, racing to beat my revoltingly stinky room-mate to the bathroom, and slipping my way down the hill to the chalet by 7am to start breakfast, picking up fresh baguettes from the front door. During breakfast service I would whip up afternoon tea - my favourite part of the job, and a job that I quickly wrestled away from the head chalet girl - usually making a yoghurt cake.

One of my chalet afternoon tea creations

After breakfast, I would clean the rooms and straighten up the beds, whizzing around the chalet as quickly as I could. I would usually get out by around 11am, and then had the rest of the day to ski some of the 120 runs in the resort. One of the best things about living in a ski resort is that you get the pick of the weather and snow - if there is fresh powder and glorious sunshine, you can ski from 11am to 5.30pm, but if the biting wind has blown all hints of snow away and left solid ice, you can stay inside le bubble bar, drink hot chocolate and make use of the free wifi, while your guests struggle their way up the mountain to get the most out of their measly week in the Alps.

Courchevel ski resort on a beautiful sunny day

Courchevel chalets
Back at the chalet by 6pm, our fantastic chef would dish out slow roasted New Zealand lamb with red wine gravy and duck-fat potatoes, or salmon and leek filo parcels. I would help prep some of the food, set the tables, serve, and wash dishes, getting out of there by 10.30pm, to unwind with stolen chalet wine.

Chalet girl cake recipe
Everyone who has worked in a chalet will probably know how to make this cake, it is virtually fool-proof, and can take about 10 minutes to throw together and bung in the oven if you're quick. Honestly - this took me exactly 15 minutes start to finish, and that included stopping to take photos!

1 pottle of natural yoghurt
1 pottle plain oil (I used sunflower)
2 pottles castor sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 pottles self-raising flour
Whatever flavour you want - today I have used 150g Green & Black's cooking chocolate, chopped, and about a pottle of frozen raspberries, plus 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a cake tin with baking paper. A chalet girl trick that I learnt in the French Alps was to scrunch the baking paper up and run under the tap - which softens the paper - and then line the unbuttered tin. Saves fiddling around with butter and scissors etc.

Empty the pottle of yoghurt into a large bowl, and then use the pottle to measure the remaining ingredients.

Add the oil, sugar and eggs to the yoghurt and mix.

Add 3 pottles of the flour and whatever flavour you are using, mix through. Check the consistency and add the extra 1/2 pottle flour if you need it (which you usually will if you have things like juicy raspberries - I added it for this cake).

Place in the oven and bake for around an hour. Test by gently touching the top of the cake and seeing if it springs back easily, and inserting a knife in the centre and seeing if it comes back clean (well, clean of cake - not necessarily of melted chocolate and raspberry juice!).

Dust with icing sugar. This cake lasts surprisingly well - great for weekday morning tea.

Try these flavours:

- Plain old chocolate - add cocoa powder to taste, and whip up some chocolate icing for the top (mix together some cocoa, icing sugar and hot water or cream if you have it).

- Coffee and walnut - add instant coffee dissolved in hot water to taste, and some chopped walnuts. Ice with coffee icing (just add some instant coffee to icing sugar and mix with a little hot water or fresh cream).

- Lemon - add grated zest of 2 lemons, then cook up the juice from the lemons with some castor sugar, and put this on the top of the cake when you take it out of the oven.

- Banana - mash up a couple of bananas for the cake, and ice with chocolate icing.

- Black doris plum (my favourite!) - add a tin of black doris plums (stones removed) to the cake. Unfortunately you can't buy black doris plums in London, I think this is strictly a New Zealand thing.


  1. This is fabulous - exactly what a chalet girl wants, simple and delicious! Oh the memories....xx

    1. I remember this being a bit of a revelation for me - that making cake could be so easy!

  2. Yum, yum, yum... I want to eat cake all the time at the moment! You'll have to come up and show the boys how to do this.

    1. You have good excuse to eat loads of cake I reckon. I think the boys could master this recipe, it's super easy even for inexperienced bakers =)

  3. I never made this cake but after reading its good reviews, I will surely make it in this weekend.
    I saw another site for such beautiful caskes :

    Awesome Birthday Cakes
    Beautiful Anniversary Cakes


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