Sunday, August 9, 2009

recipe: orange-chocolate-raspberry yogurt cake

The whole thing where the word "cake" doubles as a synonym for "simple" makes me feel like a complete lamer sometimes. 'Cause folks, sometimes cake is hard. There are electric beaters involved, and patience and delicacy are as necessary as those eggs that oh-hell-you-didn't-beat-enough, and after it comes out of the oven people expect you to do something fancy with it. I secretly despise complicated recipes and making things pretty -- my favorite desserts are hearthy, homey things that look a mess and taste ethereal, like the music nibblins of the spheres.

This loaf cake comes together in two bowls, no electric gadgets necessary, and the "decoration" involves stirring and then pouring. And having leftovers means that you don't have to fix breakfast.

Orange-Chocolate-Raspberry [aka Anything] Yogurt Cake
Adapted from smitten kitchen, who adapted it loosely from Ina Garten


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (coarse/kosher/sea salt always preferred)

1 c. plain yogurt (I used nonfat, lowfat might be better)
3/4 c. white sugar
3 eggs (extra-large preferred)
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (~1 orange)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 c. fresh raspberries
1 tbsp additional flour
1 c. chocolate chips

1 orange-worth of fresh-squeezed juice (~1/3 c.)
1 tbsp sugar


Grease and flour a loaf pan (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch if you've got it) -- yes even if it's nonstick. (The way I do this is: Take stick of butter. Rub across bottom and sides of pan to coat lightly. Put down stick of butter. Use fingers to spread the applied butter evenly around the surfaces and into the corners. Wipe off hands. Get a good couple pinches of flour and sprinkle them around the pan, probably working over the sink. Tap & turn the pan to coat the butter evenly with the flour, and then tip extra flour out of the pan. Then: TADA, your loaf will release, well, like buttah.)

Get your oven preheating to 350°F!

Measure your flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. You could also sift them together if you were feeling less lazy than me.

In a second, larger bowl, whisk your yogurt, sugar, eggs, orange zest, vanilla, and oil together until smooth.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in maybe 4 small batches. Once smooth, stir in the chocolate chips.

Toss the raspberries with the extra tablespoon of flour (so they'll bleed less!) and then gently-gently fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for ~50 minutes... this cake will dry out fairly easily, especially if you've used nonfat yogurt, and it won't brown very much, so start checking at ~45 minutes and probably don't let it go longer than 60. A toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle should come out pretty clean when it's done, but if you bake by sight like I do, you're looking for a light golden color, nothing deeper.

Meanwhile, just barely simmer the orange juice and extra tablespoon of sugar in the smallest saucepan you ever did own, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

Let the cake cool off for 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven, and then turn it out onto a cooling rack. If you want to make your cleanup process easier, set the rack on top of a cutting board, baking sheet, or strip of wax paper/tin foil/plastic wrap. Slowly spoon the warm glaze over the top of the cake -- it'll be runny, so a gentle drizzle is about the right speed. (If you're feeling industrious, you can use a toothpick/skewer to poke a few dozen holes in the top of the cake to give the glaze places to go.) You could alternatively reserve the glaze and drizzle it over individual servings of cake just before passing them around.

I think this cake is terrific warm, but it's just as nice once it's cool, and possibly even better once it's been chilled. Which you should always do with baked goods that contain fruit if you want to store them for more than a day.

You could put just about anything into this cake... next time, I'm thinking I'll try chopped strawberries instead of the chocolate chips & raspberries, and lime zest & juice instead of orange. But yes. Just use 1.5 cups of Delicious Stuff, and some kind of citrus zest & juice. And up to an extra 1/4 cup of sugar if your Delicious Stuff is a sorta tart fruit. Tell me what you do and how it came out! And if you take pictures, send them to me and I'll link and/or post them.

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