Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Foolproof Cake

A while ago I found my fridge to be holding an excess of vanilla yogurt, all of which was set to expire soon.  I don't even particularly like vanilla yogurt, so how was I to get rid of 3 containers in a week?

I searched the internet for yogurt recipes, and came across this one for yogurt cake.  Although the recipe makes a lemon cake in a bundt pan, I also had an excess of apples so I modified it a bit to be an apple cake, hoping it would work.  And I REALLY modified it - I read the "one container of yogurt" to be one large 750 g container of yogurt when really it should have been just a cup, I halved the fat, added applesauce and a bunch of chopped apples and cinnamon, and probably halved the sugar as well.

But wouldn't you know, it worked great!  It was a moist, super delicious apple-flavoured cake that wasn't ridiculously unhealthy.

A few months later, I liberally used this recipe again to make a pumpkin cake, adding a bunch of pumpkin puree, spices, and plain yogurt this time.  Once again it worked like a charm - my grandma even phoned me to tell me that she doesn't like cake but she really liked this one!

After these two successes, I was starting to feel like this recipe might be completely foolproof, and an opportunity for the perfect test of its resilience presented itself over the holidays. 

I'd made a ton of cranberry sauce using this recipe for Brahm's family's big Christmas dinner and had about a cup and a half or so left over, so I decided to make a cranberry sauce cake.  I used some black cherry yogurt, and started measuring ingredients based on how I thought the recipe should work, not what the recipe actually said.  As I was dumping the last bit of flour into the bowl, I realized I'd been using a 2/3 cup rather than a 1/2 cup measure the whole time to measure almost everything!  I added an extra 1/2 tsp of baking soda and hoped it would work out.

And miraculously, it did!  I baked it a bit too long by accident but other than some crunchy edges, it tasted amazing!  Even using a recipe I completely modified and measured wrong, it still worked great.

So now I am feeling extremely cocky about my cake-baking abilities and kind of want to keep making these delicious cakes, but having a house full of cake is maybe not the best health decision, even though as cakes go my modified recipe is not near as bad as it could be.  If you want to make a super easy, modifiable cake, try the following (or use the original recipe and just throw things together as you feel like, I'm sure it will work):

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cups yogurt
1-2 cups fruit puree or jam or whatever
Any spices to taste (cinnamon etc.)

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs.  Add the other wet ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients then add them to the rest.  Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes (I always use an 8x8 pan).  You could make an easy glaze with icing sugar and milk to put on top but it's not needed.

Depending on how sweet your yogurt or fruit puree is, you might even want to do less than 1 cup of sugar.  I wouldn't do less than 1/2 cup of butter and I'd keep the 3 eggs, but pretty much everything else can probably be modified to whatever you have around.  The batter will probably be slightly more like a muffin batter than a runny cake batter.

Hooray for foolproof baking!

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