Another little cake

Yep, it’s true – we’ve had this little blog for a year now! I guess none of us ever said why we started this whole thing, so here’s my perspective: we’re all a little obsessed with food, particularly of the homemade variety.  When we lived in Washington state, we didn’t have a lot of money and – I’ve just realized recently – we had a lot of home-cooked meals out of necessity. While back in the day we made homemade frosting because it was just a bit cheaper than buying it from a store, I now love making homemade frosting because it just seems right. You know what I mean? Why should I buy something when I can make it myself and have it taste exactly how I want? That’s what I want you, all of you, to get out of this blog. You can do it – you are a person capable of reading a recipe, understanding directions, and changing them to fit your specific needs. You’ve gotten this far in life, right? What’s a little cooking compared to, say, learning to drive a car? Or learning high school algebra? Or learning to read a complicated book, or that maybe you shouldn’t drink a few beers on an empty stomach and then have a gin and tonic? Compared to those things, cooking is a piece of cake. (Hah.)

I became especially enamored with food blogs my last year of college – probably mostly out of the necessity to procrastinate – and even briefly considered working in a restaurant after graduating.  Oh yes, I had grand plans for that Russian degree. (…) When that didn’t pan out, I still spent hours every day looking through recipes, sending them to my mom and sister, and bragging to them about the delicious results. Eventually we decided “Hey, why not do this ourselves?” So here we are: a mom and two daughters, cooking up a storm, encouraging you to try cooking too, and growing closer in the process. Not a bad deal.

And so without further ado, here is my cake:

This is my kind of baking: a cake with flexible(ish) measurements, adaptable ingredients, and (so far) a very high success rate. No real stress, only one bowl to clean up, and you get to call it a “French Yogurt Cake,” or, if you’re really trying to be fancy, “Gâteau au Yaourt.”

I adapted my recipe from Molly Wizenberg of the blog Orangette. Her cake is adapted from a French recipe which uses a little 125 ml yogurt cup to measure all the ingredients. So handy, those French cooks are! Since I’m not a handy French woman, I do not currently possess a single serving French yogurt cup. But, take heart: those cups are a little over half a cup, so you can measure your ingredients accordingly. Does not having an exact measurement scare you? I challenge you to not be afraid. Just remember: you can do it. You’ve made it this far, haven’t you?

Yogurt cake with berries
Adapted from this Gâteau au Yaourt à la Fraise, or French-Style Yogurt Cake with Strawberries

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I’ve also used fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt – it was delicious)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (or whatever nut you have on hand – I like walnuts because they’re relatively inexpensive and don’t break my cheap-o “food processor” to grind)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • zest of one lemon (optional)
  • about 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries (I used blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a cake pan, round or square, with butter or cooking spray.

Combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Add the flour, ground walnuts, and baking powder, mixing just to combine. Add the oil, stirring to incorporate. Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, and distribute frozen berries evenly over the batter. If using, scatter the lemon zest on next. Pour the remaining batter over the berries, trying to cover them as well as possible.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the cake feels springy and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If you use frozen berries, the cake may take longer to bake. If you find it browns on the top too quickly, loosely place some foil over the cake to prevent the top from burning.

Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes, then turn it out of the pan to cool completely. Cut into squares or wedges, and serve at room temperature. It’s awfully nice on its own, but I’m thinking a little lemon glaze would be lovely, too. The cake will keep for a few days, covered, at room temperature.


P.S. I made the peach butter barbecue sauce, and it’s pretty decent, but not what I want it to be. I’ll show you what I did soon, but hopefully next year my recipe will be better. In the meantime, did you know that making your own mayonnaise is really easy? Here. Watch this video. Then go make mayo. Then close your eyes, try a bit of the mayonnaise, and imagine you are in Belgium.

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2 thoughts on “Another little cake

  1. Janet says:

    I made this cake and loved it. The recipe is very flexible because I got great results as I experimented with ingredients which I love to do. I used raspberry greek yogurt as well as fresh red and golden yellow raspberries that I had just picked. I also used all demerara (brown) sugar, white whole wheat flour and ground hazelnuts. I ate it with a little raspberry syrup on top and I have to admit that I even ate it for breakfast one or two mornings. Yum. It is a keeper.

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