There was a time when I didn’t think much of sweets (Waahhhtttt??). When I didn’t go to bed thinking of blueberry pancakes for breakfast, or when I didn’t fantasize for chewy chocolate chip cookies.
There were days when I didn’t take solace in the alluring scent of browned butter, the familiar rattle of shutting the oven door after testing if my peanut butter cupcakes were ready, or when I secretly looked forward to licking the end of a whisk enrobed in batter (Raw eggs? Food safety? What’s that?!).
Those were days before I lived alone. When I was madly obsessed with my first boyfriend, when I was terrified of never being accepted to any university, when I sought comfort in my best friends when I couldn't get it from my parents, and when I didn't care what I ate. I didn't think about each bite, nor did I judge the aesthetics of what lay on my plate. Most importantly, I couldn't cook or bake anything from scratch.
Today, 5 years later, I finished writing my dietetics registration exam. After 6 hours of hunched over 200 questions that were not only tricky but a little conniving, I was finally done. I walked out and took in a breath of frosty air. Despite my frazzled brain, all I wanted to do was to take a nap and bake a cake. Particularly yogurt cake. Sweets always make me feel better.
If this cake was in high school and got voted for a superlative, this cake would win three categories: most popular, best dressed AND best sense of humour. I’ve made it over a dozen times, in the same spring form pan my cousin bought me for my birthday. By itself, it's a plain yet surprisingly moist cake. You can't taste the yogurt at all, instead, the dairy gives it tenderness and fluff. Make it by plain, or dress it up.
It’s versatile; allowing several variations so you can easily adapt it to your friends’ palates. Plus, it calls for simple ingredients that you most probably already have in the pantry. And finally, it’s a cinch. You can do this with your eyes closed (but try not to the first time, it took me some practice).
This time, I used lime zest and poppy seeds. Grating the lime zest was my favourite part. I love how the fruit releases its citrusy juices, a shower of green sprinkled into the bowl. The poppy seeds spruce up the cake with a subtle kick of pop.
I recently made it for a potluck and insisted my friends take a slice home to their boyfriends/husbands (just so they could rave about it later a few days later).
Bake it now. It’s a stress reliever. It’s a pain killer. Cake is a great antidote to exam induced headaches and frustrations.
Yogurt cake (or Gâteau au Yaourt)
This recipe is from one of my favourite food blogs, Chocolate and Zucchini. Clotilde published a book complete with mouth watering recipes, a roommate of mine bought it for me and it remains one of my most beloved cookbooks. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve made this over dozen times. It's really that good.
Over time, I've learned that making a simple syrup to glaze over the cake adds a nice touch and sparks up the citrus flavor of the cake (if citrus is your weapon of choice). The trick is to pour the syrup over the cake when it's done yet still warm. Mix 2 tablespoons of icing sugar with any leftover lime juice, until smooth. Poke several holes into the cake and brush glaze over cake completely. The juice actually finds a home into the holes, when the cake is cooled, you will be tickled with kicks of lime in each bite.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt (I abide by Astro’s Balkan 6% M.F. yogurt)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- a good pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon light rum
- Additions (optional): zest of 1 whole lime/lemon/orange/grapefruit, 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds, 1 cup of chocolate chips, walnuts/slivered almonds, shredded coconut, fresh berries--Go wild! Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries!
1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F), line the bottom of a round 25-cm (10-inch) cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
2. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, and rum.
3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and blend together -- don't overwork the dough.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
6. Let stand for ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.