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.
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)
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
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