The best cake I have ever had is my grandmother's plain cake. We called it plain because that's what it was and how it tasted, with its simple off-white crumb and a top that was a tad sweeter, wetter, a thin layer of velvet that always stuck to the wax paper when it was lifted off. Its real name, I learned many years later, is 1-2-3-4 cake, so called because of its main ingredients: a cup of milk, 2 of sugar and 3 of flour, 4 eggs and a few other teapoons of this and tablespoons of that. There was, is, always plain cake at grandma's house, fresh ones and frozen ones on standby, waiting for a quick dusting of cinnamon, sugar and brown sugar for a quick morning coffee cake, or tart lemon icing, the kind that hardens into a crisp paper-thin crust; others ready for great swaths of rich chocolate frosting, the kind inevitably swiped by greedy fingers. But my favorite way to eat it is unadorned, unaccompanied by anything more than a glass of milk. Plain.
When I saw Clotilde's recipe for yogurt cake, I knew right away it was in the same vein. I was looking for something simple and comforting to take to a friend's house for dinner. When I read that this recipe comes from her boyfriend's grandmother, I knew I had to make it. And since that first cake on Saturday night (which I served with local Straus organic vanilla ice cream and orange blossom honey) I have made two more. One is in the freezer, wrapped in wax paper and aluminum foil, just like at my grandmother's house, and another sits on the counter, already cut into for breakfast. Of course, I ate it plain.
Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake) first pubished on Chocolate and Zucchini
A cake so simple it's the first one taught to les enfants francais, with a not-too-sweet crumb and a crunchy top. A cake that pairs well with raspberries and creme fraiche, with vanilla ice cream and honey, with a cup of tea and milk.
1 cup of whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt
2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 TBSP baking powder
1 TBSP light rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a round ten-inch cake pan. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, and flour. Add in the oil, baking powder, rum and vanilla and mix again. The batter may not quite absorb all the liquid, but that's okay -- don't overwork it. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.