My friend Michele, the inimitable and unnaturally clever Brooklyn food writer, posted a recipe for this cake on her Facebook page many months ago, saying, “In all my years of cooking, I have never made a better cake than this.” Well. One does not ignore such an endorsement.
As it turns out, Jill has been sentimentally attached to the idea of French Yogurt Cake since reading about it in Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bebe. Druckerman talks about how this cake is traditionally the first that French children learn to make with their parents; Jill & I both loved the idea of that. I make homemade yogurt regularly, so it’s always around the house, and I’ve always got a hankering for something sweet–but not too sweet–to go with a cup of tea.
So we made our first—but certainly not our last—of these cakes this past weekend, when the Houston weather first dipped down into temperatures that could reasonably be considered “fall-ish,” and I brewed a pot of chai to go alongside. It was lovely, lovely, lovely, and though Shiv wasn’t quite up to helping with the making of the cake yet, he was all too happy to help eat it.
• The best interviews are more like conversations, and I had a really wonderful one with Bel Poblandor for Trop magazine: How to Carry Grief | An Interview with Nishta Mehra
• I’m thrilled to be headed home to Memphis tomorrow, Thursday, September 26 for a reading & signing at St. Mary’s Episcopal School! You can find all the details here.
• A dear friend sent me a link to this blog post yesterday; this blog is new to both of us and, as my friend put it, “For a moment I thought she had hijacked my brain.” A highly recommended read, and not just for mamas/parents.
• A public service announcement: if you’ve never had the pleasure of an almond butter and Bosc pear sandwich for breakfast (on hearty, toasted bread, please), please remedy ASAP.
FRENCH YOGURT CAKE
recipe from Epicurious, via Michele Humes
The beauty of this cake is in this simplicity: best not to mess with it. If you like your desserts very sweet, this may not be the cake for you.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 T finely grated lemon or orange zest
¾ cup whole milk Greek yogurt (I used my homemade yogurt, straining it ahead of time to thicken)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp. vanilla or citrus extract (I used the latter)
pan: standard loaf pan
Coat the loaf pan with a nonstick vegetable oil spray like Pam, then dust with flour. Tap out any excess flour & set aside.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, & salt) in a medium bowl. In a separate, larger bowl, rub the citrus zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist & fragrant; you can also do this on a cutting board using a bench scraper a la Joy the Baker. Add the yogurt, oil, eggs, & extract to the sugar, whisking to blend.
Fold the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until the cake is golden brown on top, 45-55 minutes. Cool the cake in the loaf pan first, for about 15 minutes, before inverting onto a rack and cooling completely. Cake can be made ahead & stored at room temperature, well wrapped or in an airtight container. Serve with chai or coffee.
If you know how to make a frittata, you’ll never go hungry.
They are incredibly simple and quick to make, and you can serve one for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Best of all, the only ingredient necessary for a frittata is half-a-dozen eggs; the rest can be whatever you happen to have hanging around in your fridge or pantry.
With a frittata you can serve a crowd, or you can just serve your family of three and save the leftovers for a easily re-heatable morning protein hit. This is why we tend to make one about once a week in my house, usually on weekends as part of a leisurely brunch, along with some toasted English muffins, jam, & good butter.
Frittatas are so easy to make that I almost feel silly posting a “recipe” for one—think of this more as a set of guidelines or a procedure. In addition to the combination pictured here, our family also recommends the following ingredient mixes, though honestly, you really should just feel free to throw in whatever you want.
• mushroom, sausage, bell pepper, feta
• greens, onion, sliced potato, gruyere
• bacon, asparagus, cheddar
• zucchini, tomato, basil & flat-leaf parsley
Unlike a quiche, where you want egg and crust to shine and therefore use a light hand when making a filling, I like to think of a frittata as lots of vegetables bound together with some egg: cheap, filling, and healthy.
KALE, CHEVRE, & TOMATO FRITTATA
1 small-to-medium bunch lacinato kale, stems removed & roughly chopped
(~3-4 cups, depending on how much kale you want in your frittata)
3 green onions, sliced into rounds
1-2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
generous handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
generous handful chevre
(Shiv is obsessed with the local good stuff from Blue Heron Farm, which we pick up at the market weekly; I used the garlic-peppercorn here)
6-8 farm eggs, whisked with ~1/4 cup milk
(farm eggs tend to vary in size, so 6 large will do, but sometimes I need an extra one or two to fill the pan)
salt & pepper
fresh herbs, if you like
Heat a generous swirl of olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, over medium-low heat. Add the green onions & garlic and sauté until fragrant. Turn the heat up to medium and add the kale in batches, covering with a lid to encourage the kale to wilt. Continue to stir and cook until all of the kale has been cooked through.
Add the tomatoes and stir, allowing them to heat through for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper and stir again. Drizzle in a bit more olive oil, or toss in a pat of butter if you like.
Pour in the egg mixture, scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to lift up the vegetables and allow the egg to coat the bottom. Cook over medium-low heat until the bottom and sides have set, and the top is beginning to, about 4-5 minutes.
Sprinkle cheese on top of the frittata and transfer the skillet to the oven, set to “broil.” Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the top of the frittata is lightly browned. Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into wedges.