Yoghurt Cake

There is something extremely comforting about a simple loaf cake.  Especially one that you can make with just a bowl and whisk, and can be popped into the oven in under 10 minutes. It is also the simplest and quickest loaf cake in my collection.

I found this recipe in my grandmother's roladex of cards.  It was well worn and in someone else's handwriting, so I actually have no idea where it originated.  All the ingredients are measured in a yoghurt pot* - empty the yoghurt pot into your mixing bowl and then refill the pot once with oil, twice with sugar, twice with flour etc. Brilliant.

I have, however, since stumbled across many versions of this recipe whose ingredients are all measured in a small yoghurt pot.  And most of them virtually identical in their proportions.  Apparently every family in the West seems to have a version of this delicate, moreish cake, that is as good for breakfast as it is for tea. Clearly people, I am not alone.

I prefer to make this cake with olive oil instead of a flavourless oil as stipulated by our family recipe card.  Not only for my conscience.  Olive oil just tastes much better.  When I tested the recipe, the olive oil version was still good (and even better according to some) on day 3, while the sunflower oil loaf was dry. I make this very quickly in a bowl with a whisk. But I have made it in my mixer wondering if it would improve the outcome, and it made precious little difference. So, feel free to make it either way.

I have also altered the method of the original recipe, and I add the oil at the very end, as Dori Greenspan suggests.  I have adopted her method here as I think it gives a wonderful shiny crust to the cake.  It is important that you do not rush this last stage - the oil must be mixed well and fully incorporated into the batter or the cake can sink in the middle.

Finally, I finish mine with a dusting of icing sugar, therefore still making it breakfast friendly. Or you can drizzle it with a simple lemon and icing sugar glaze.  And remember, it tastes infinitely better the next day.

*To alleviate any confusion about the size of the yoghurt pot, I have given the ingredients in grams and cups.

Yoghurt Cake

Dori Greenspan and Nigella Lawson's recipes in Baked and Nigellissima respectively helped me to amend and improve my original version.

Makes 1 loaf cake (feel free to double the recipe and make it in a tube pan for a more festive feel, or alternatively make 2 loaves and keep one in the freezer)

2 eggs

220g (1 cup) sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp vanilla extract

150g (1/2 cup) plain yoghurt (not greek yoghurt)

180g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C (350F), making sure your shelf is in the bottom third of the oven

Grease and line a 11 x 22cm (4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch) loaf tin

Whisk eggs, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla until pale

Mix in yoghurt

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk together

Add dry ingredients to yoghurt and egg mixture and whisk until just combined

Pour in oil and stir with a wooden spoon / silicone spatula until the oil is completely incorporated.  Do not rush this stage

Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin and bake in bottom third of the oven for 45-50 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean)

Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a rack to cool completely

Dust with icing sugar and serve