Monday, February 20, 2012

Bettina bakes all the things: yogurt cake

In my last job, I took on the role of office birthday baker. It was a nice opportunity for me, who lived alone, to try new recipes and not worry about eating entire cakes or batches of cookies on my own. Sometimes though, when a birthday was in the middle of the week, or when I had to work late the night before, it was helpful to have a recipe I could rely on to come together quickly, easily, and deliciously.

For those times, that recipe was a yogurt poundcake. One bowl, no electric mixers, and one pan.

This is still a favorite in my recipe arsenal, and it's super adaptable. I start with this recipe from Epicurious and change it based on what I'm feeling or have on hand. Last week, I decided to whip up a cake when my sister came over for dinner, and this orange version got rave reviews (I wasn't allowed to have any of the leftovers!). This cake is moist, dense, almost custardy in the middle, but gets the same nice brown edges as a more sinful poundcake.

See that beautiful custardy cross-section?

The biggest differences between the recipe below and the original is 1) after making it so many times, you really don't need to put the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and 2) since I used flavored yogurt, I reduced the sugar; you might want to increase the sugar to 3/4 or 1 cup if using plain yogurt.

I really think the possibilities are near endless with this recipe. Switch out the yogurt flavors or the zest, add extracts, and fruit chunks or chocolate chips or nuts, dust with powdered sugar instead of a glaze, spread with jam, or drizzle with melted chocolate. Double the recipe to make a bundt. I've even used mashed ripe bananas in place of the oil, which cuts a significant amount of fat. What flavor combinations do you think would be best?

Orange Scented Yogurt Cake
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c light vanilla yogurt
1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs
finely grated peel of 3 oranges (about 3-4 Tbsp)
1/2 c vegetable oil

For glaze
1c powdered sugar
juice of 1 orange (or less, as needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter or spray a loaf pan or 8-inch round pan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, and mix in yogurt, sugar, and orange zest, whisking until thoroughly blended. Sift in dry ingredients, and carefully whisk together. Using a spatula, fold in the oil gradually until blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan, and knife or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Cool the cake on a rack for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides if needed, and invert onto rack (if using a loaf pan, turn it back upright, for the round it's up to you), and cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix orange juice 1 tablespoon at a time into powdered sugar until smooth and at desired thickness, and drizzle or spread over the top of the cake.

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  1. Dude this looks sooooo good. I think I'mma make it for handbell rehearsal!

  2. Thanks Kristen! Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Yumyum! I'm going to make this for my flatmate's bday on Thursday!! Two questions: what sort of pan do you recommend? I have a springform or a loaf pan at my disposal.. I'm thinking the springform, but don't know if big+wide = shorter cooking time?

    Also, the orange zest... do you always add that, or just depending on the yogurt flavor?

    Thanks :)))

    1. Hi Andy! Either pan would work, but you are correct that if you use the springform, it will likely have a shorter baking time. How many inches across is your springform pan?

      I would say the additional flavoring would depend on the yogurt flavor, but this cake is so versatile you can flavor it in many ways! Did you have a yogurt flavor in mind already? If orange doesn't go well with it, you can consider lemon or lime or grapefruit zest, or a different extract besides vanilla, etc. Or nothing extra really--I've made this as a vanilla cake and it's been great like that as well!

      I would love to hear how it turns out!

  4. Oh, it's gonna be an adventure alright! Vanilla extract seems to be a non-standard ingredient here (they have vanilla sugar or vanilla "aroma" which is a weird oil concentrate, instead). So baking from US recipes always is a bit tricky. The pan is around 9.5'' across (centimeter standards..)

    In any case, trying it out today and will let you know! Not settled on the flavor yet, but they have diverse yogurts here (poppy seed marzipan, anyone?) so we'll see :)

    1. Hmm, for that size, I would start checking after 40 minutes, maybe even sooner if it starts to smell strongly. Also, I haven't tried it yet, but since you mentioned it (kind of), I think this would make a great lemon poppyseed cake, which you could make without the extract (put the juice of half a lemon plus plenty of zest in the batter, and the juice from the other half [mixed with some water or milk to reduce the pucker] for the glaze).

      Also, I am a fan of marzipan anything!