This is like the little black dress of cakes, although I think that technically it’s more a quick bread than a cake. It’s a French basic, typically taught by grandmothers to their grandkids. All measurements are done by volume, using a half-cup yogurt tub that is standard here. It’s a nice change after you’ve cleaned up your bake and put the scales away.
Here’s the basic recipe:
- 4 tubs flour*
- 2 tsp baking powder
- .5 tsp salt
- 2 tubs full-fat yogurt**
- 1.5 – 2 tubs blond cane sugar (depends on taste and add-ins)***
- .5 tub oil
- 3 eggs
- Preheat oven to 180°C
- Dump one container of yogurt into a large mixing bowl, rinse and dry the tub.
- In a medium mixing bowl, measure out your dry ingredients, whisk them together and put aside.
- Back to the wet.
Add your second tub** of yogurt, then the sugar and give things a good stir.
- Then measure in your oil and your eggs, whisking between each addition
- Now would be a good time to stop and oil your baking vessels. This recipe makes a batch that fills the 20cm loaf pan in the photo, plus a dozen very tall small cupcakes. Set everybody up on a sheet pan
- Dump any add-ins to the bowl of dry ingredients and give them a toss to coat them in flour; this seems to help prevent everything from sinking to the bottom.
- Tip the dry ingredients into the wet by thirds, mixing gently and making sure there are no bits of dry flour — but don’t work it so much that you get gluten development.
- Fill your baking vessels 3/4 – 7/8 full and bake. Bake time will depend on your add-ins, but I set the timer for 30 minutes, by which time the cupcakes are usually done. You want them to pass the clean-skewer test. Usually, if the kitchen starts smelling like dessert, it’s time to check.
- Let cool on a rack and enjoy!
* While the “original” recipe calls for AP flour, I use just about anything I have at hand, which usually means bread flour and anything that needs to be used up. I systematically swap out one tub of flour for almond meal or grated (unsweetened) coconut. And here, one tub of flour was swapped out for a tub of cocoa powder.
** 130g of starter (even discard, if it’s not too old and funky) can be swapped in for the second tub of yogurt. I’ve never tried this with a flavored yogurt, but if using grated coconut, a coconut-flavored yogurt could be fun.
*** You’re limited only by your imagination: dried, candied, fresh or frozen fruit (no need to thaw if frozen, but extend your bake time); any kinds of nuts, chocolate or butterscotch chips, cocoa nibs, citrus zest, candied ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg… I’ve even chopped up a tired-looking apple and tossed it in.
A sprinkling of sugar just before baking will give a nice, shiny crust with just the slightest crunch to it. Otherwise, top with flaked almonds or walnut halves or whatever.
Please do report back with your variation!
Keep on baking!