Posts Tagged ‘yogurt’

Strawberry and gooseberry yogurt cake

5 July 2018

Our season of birthdays has come and gone, and it was marked by a few disconcerting cake wishes. Our tradition is to celebrate birthdays, with presents and cake, at breakfast. This brought about some unsettling cake choices.

Crumbles. An apple crumble seemed like a humble birthday cake wish, but in March, it’s acceptable. In June, it is not. I was quite distressed about having to ask our local grocery shop for apples in June. (They did scoff. Or was I imagining it?) But birthday wishes are not open to veto.

Luckily, my other June birthday child was willing to give in to my gentle nudging — or was it open pleading — that I make him THIS cake. This perfect, easy, quintessentially June cake.

It is based on the classic French yogurt cake — easy as pie — about which I’ve spoken before. Yogurt cakes are the first cakes many French children learn to bake because all the measurements are calculated in volume, using a standard yogurt pot as the unit. [Read more about it here.]

I make it often because it is so easy, and also for the perfect light sponge texture. On popular demand, here is its early summer strawberry and gooseberry incarnation, the recipe translated for a country where 100ml yogurt pots are not ubiquitous.

Strawberry and gooseberry yogurt cake

2 pots (200 ml) of plain unsweetened yogurt
2 pots (100ml) melted butter
3 pots (300 ml) light brown sugar plus 2 Tbsps for the berries
3 pots (300 ml) flour plus one Tbsp for the berries
3 pots (300 ml) almond flour
4 eggs
2 tsps baking powder
Zest from 1 lemons
Strawberries and gooseberries about one cup each
Icing sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Line a 10-inch (26cm) baking tin with parchment paper and butter generously.

Stir all the ingredients together except the fruit in a large mixing bowl to obtain a smooth batter.

Wash and trim the berries. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters, depending on their size, and the gooseberries in half. In a medium bowl, toss with 2 Tbsps sugar and one Tbsp sifted flour (this will prevent the fruit from falling to the bottom of the cake while baking).

Gently stir the berries into the batter. Pour into the baking tin, slide into the oven, and bake for 50 min to an hour, until the cake is set and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven. Once completely cool, sprinkle with icing sugar for decoration.

Yogurt

29 September 2010

Making yogurt without a machine is very easy if you accept a slight degree of unpredictability, as yogurt cultures can be temperamental. The tricky part is keeping the yogurt at the right temperature while it sets, and this is where a yogurt maker helps, but it’s by no means indispensable (I don’t own one and I have been making yogurt for years).

Like many people interested in making yogurt at home, I knew it was easy – theoretically. But it wasn’t until I witnessed it that I realized how ridiculously simple it really is. The main steps are very straightforward: heat milk – let cool – stir in a spoonful yogurt  – let set; but of course, the devil is in details.

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Step 1: Scald milk

In a saucepan, heat milk until bubbles begin to form. Remove from heat.

Step 2: Let milk cool to just above body temperature

Yogurt cultures are most active just above body temperature, at 110°F (43°C). A good way to gauge the temperature without a thermometer (I don’t own one, either) is to place your little finger in the milk and count to 10. It should feel warm but not burn. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yogurt cultures. If it is too cold the yogurt will take forever to set or not set at all.

Step 3: Stir in 1 tablespoon “starter” yogurt per quart (liter) milk

Any commercial plain yogurt works, as long as it contains live cultures (specified in the ingredients).

Using more “starter” yogurt will not help, on the contrary. Think of it as overcrowding; too many live cultures make the yogurt thinner and more sour.

Stir well so the starter yogurt dissolves into the milk.

Step 4: Pour milk into container(s)

Any container will do, large or small, jar, bowl, storage container, etc.

Preheat container(s) with hot water to maintain as much heat as possible. Cover with lid, cloth, or parchment paper (this makes a difference; left uncovered the yogurt doesn’t set as well).

Step 5: Let set in a warm place

The temperature should stay as close as possible to 110°F (43°C). This is the tricky part, the one for which the yogurt maker was invented, but there are a number of other ways to maintain heat. I have tried the following methods, they all work, it’s a question of choosing the one most practical for you:

  • Place containers in a cooler bag (space permitting, add a bottle of hot water to maintain heat)
  • Wrap a towel around the containers and place in the warmest place in the house
  • Preheat oven to 200°F (90°C), turn off oven (very important!), and place yogurt containers in the preheated oven. (Don’t forget the yogurt and accidentally turn the oven on for another use. I must admit it has happened to me. More than once…)

Do not disturb the yogurt until it is set – anywhere from 3 to 12 hours. (It happens that the yogurt doesn’t set, in that case the same milk can be reheated to repeat the process.)

Yogurt keeps in the refrigerator for weeks.

Cucumber yogurt salad

6 September 2010

This salad should be made about 1 hour in advance.

***

Cucumbers

Plain yogurt

Garlic cloves

Sea salt

Freshly ground white pepper

Mint

***

Thinly slice the cucumbers, with a mandoline for example. Add a few tablespoons of yogurt, just enough to coat the cucumber slices but not more, as the cucumbers will release some fluid. Cut a few garlic cloves into thick slices. **The garlic is used to infuse the salad but the slices must be taken out before serving, so the slices should be thick and it’s important to remember the number of pieces used.** Season with salt and white pepper.

Let sit in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Remove the slices of garlic. Cut a small handful of mint leaves very thinly and add to the salad. Serve cold.

 


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