Have you heard of French yogurt cake? I first read the recipe in “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman. That recipe was a failure, but I was intrigued by the idea (not so much by the book, but I don’t think you’re here to read my parenting philosophies.) Follow a basic ratio to make a cake simple enough for a child to make on their own. Brilliant, right? But as you may remember, I am not a wiz at baking. Perhaps French children are more talented bakers than I am, because I was less than impressed with my first few attempts at that cake. But with a little bit of tweaking, I can make the simple and delicious French yogurt cake that I was hoping for. You can jazz it up with fruit, lemon zest, even chocolate chips, but I have a secret ingredient: rosewater. Yes, I’m a show off – I made a flowery cake – Yogurt and Rosewater Cake. And it is so simple to make that you (or/ your kids) can make it easily too.
So why rosewater? Because it smells amazing. And because I have a bottle in my pantry. I’m a sucker for unique ingredients found at more exotic grocery stores. I have shelves of random bottles: pomegranate molasses, orange flower water, xioxing vinegar, sorghum. All sorts of things that I will use once and then forget about. But simple treats give you the opportunity to show off exotic ingredients- plus rose water gives this cake that unique flavor that most people can’t identify. Not familiar with rosewater? (No, I’m not talking about the Jon Stewart movie, although I would like to see it.) You can find small bottles of this clear syrup in Middle Eastern grocery stores, even in regular grocery stores around Chicago. Strongly flavored and sweet, it is also delicious in icings, lemonade and even cocktails. And it is usually inexpensive – I usually see it for a couple of dollars, so it isn’t a huge investment.
I wasn’t excited about the recipe found in “Bringing Up Bébé,” but I kept experimenting until I found something that I liked. My second attempt didn’t use baking soda. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE! I wish I had taken pictures, because this was the most unpleasant looking cake I have ever baked. My third attempt included defrosted blueberries and their juice. That cake turned light purple, and that was pretty, but somehow the blueberries became dry and tasteless. Bleh. I’ve had a hard time tracking down whole milk plain yogurt these days, but it turns out that low fat yogurt works OK too. Fruit works in this recipe, but avoid adding any extra liquid from the fruit. Flavored yogurts work well too, but they have a lot of added ingredients (especially sugar) that can throw off the balance. Even a swirl of jam works nicely, if you can’t find rosewater.
A quick note of apology to my coworkers (not that I have been brave enough to share this blog with most of you): I’m sorry that you had to listen to my daily complaints and battles with this recipe. I’m glad that we can laugh about “a**cake,” the charred version, the beautiful golden brown cake that was totally raw in the middle. I’m sorry. I promise to bring cookies.
|Yogurt and Rosewater Cake|| |
- .5 cup plain yogurt
- .5 cup canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1.5 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1.5 teaspoons rosewater
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Mix together eggs, yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl
- Mix flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
- Mix flour mixture into the wet mixture.
- Stir in the oil and rosewater.
- Pour into a well-oiled pan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry.
- Wait at least 20 minutes before removing from pan.