I love cookbooks. My collection is still short, but I have my favorites. One of them, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours, is definitely on the top the list. The recipes are very well explained, you have several tips for substitutions, beautiful pictures, lovely stories, serving suggestions, storing instructions. And other pretty basic stuff, such as the oven temperature, cooking time, number of servings and order of the ingedients – things a lot of authors/ editors forget.
Everybody can be in this kitchen: the recipe always works, looks just like the picture, for everyone willing to do it. Cause, you know, there’s lots of books and magazines behaving like that mean neighbor , giving you the recipe but “forgetting” an ingredient or two…
In this particular book, there’s this yogurt cake we bake every single week. The original recipe makes a lemon cake, but it’s so versatile I’ve turned it into coconut, vanilla, almond, orange, lime, apple and snickerdoodle. It’s so easy you don’t even need a mixer. In the book recipe, the cake is topped with a lemon marmalade glaze, which I don’t particularly like, so I use a sugar glaze (like in the picture). I’m posting the mother recipe and my inventions follow…
French Yogurt Cake ( 8 servings)
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cannola oil
For the glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice, strained
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you’re using them, baking powder and salt.
Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and, with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisking vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold, and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.
Make the glaze: Stir together sugar and juice in a small bowl until glaze is smooth. Coat the cake, letting the glaze run on the sides. Let set 15 minutes.
Coconut: Replace 1/2 cup flour with the same amount of desiccated grated coconut. Omit the lemon zest. Replace the vanilla with coconut extract, if you want.
Almond: Replace 1/2 cup flour with the same amount of ground almonds. Omit the lemon zest. Replace the vanilla with almond extract.
Orange: Switch the lemon zest for orange zest. If you make the glaze, replace the lemon juice with orange juice.
Snickerdoodle: Omit the lemon zest and mix 2 tsp ground cinnamon with the dry ingredients. Instead of the glaze, brush the warm cake with melted butter and sprinkle some cinnamon sugar. In this version, I also added a finely chopped apple in the batter, for an apple spice cake.