Monday, April 25, 2011

Olive oil yogurt cake

To top off our dinner last week, I made an incredibly simple delicious cake from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life. You might recognize Molly from her fantastic blog Orangette, or her regular pieces in Bon Appétit. Her writing has so much heart, I alternately sobbed and laughed my way through her book, and am eagerly looking forward to her second.

One chapter at the end focuses on a cake that would become her wedding cake - not the cake pictured above, but a densely chocolate concoction that Molly likens to soft fudge and calls "The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake." In discussing this cake and its powers of persuasion, she wrote what is in my heart at every weekly dinner:

"Underneath everything else, all the plans and goals and hopes, that's why we get up in the morning, why we believe, why we try, why we bake chocolate cakes. That's the best we can ever hope to do: to win hearts and minds, to love and be loved."

That's a chocolate cake sized statement that I'm pairing with far lighter fare, but it goes together nonetheless. 

Here is the recipe for Molly's French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon. It comes together in about 10 minutes after a trip to the grocery at 9:45 p.m. and tastes delicious again the day after a dinner party served up for breakfast with a cup of coffee. 

French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. grated lemon zest (I used all the zest from one medium-sized lemon)
1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt (not low fat or nonfat)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil*

*Molly's original suggestion is for vegetable oil, but in her notes the mention of a richer fruitier cake created by subbing in olive oil was too much to resist. I'm sure the original would be delicious as well.
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º F Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add lemon zest and whisk to mix thoroughly.
  4. In a large bowl combine the yogurt, sugar and eggs stirring to mix well.
  5. Add the flour mixture and stir to just combine.
  6. Add oil and stir well - it will look messy at first but should come together into a smooth pale yellow batter. 
  7. Pour into pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn out cake onto a dish and then invert back onto the rack and allow to cool completely.

Molly tops her cake with a syrup of lemon juice and powdered sugar that soaks into the cake and then a glossy coating of icing also made of lemon juice and powdered sugar. We opted instead for lightly sweetened whipped cream, a dusting of powdered sugar and a compote of a few blood oranges we had rolling around the fridge.