What constitutes a yoghurt cake? Is it any cake which uses yoghurt? Or is there specific criteria we need to follow? I have heard of so many people who make yoghourt cake and they are all so different. There are literally hundreds of different recipes once you start looking.
For me, I am focussing on the famed yoghurt cake which is popular in France and made by little children using small yoghurt pots. It appeals to me for so many reasons. I love how it is a recipe really designed with kids in mind. The measurements and instructions are simple and easy to follow. It encourages independence and nurtures self-confidence. Most of all, something which is so lacking these days, it helps foster patience!! Children learn things take time, and even when they are done, they still need to wait. What I mean here, is the time it takes to make the cake, then waiting for it to bake, allowing it to cool and then waiting for the right time of day to have a slice. All of which can take hours, depending on how you drag it out.
I first encountered the recipe for this cake when a dear friend bought me a copy of French Children Don’t Throw Food, by Pamela Druckerman. I was having my third child at the time and she must have sensed the impending chaos which would follow. She knew my love for food and cookery and having children of her own, albeit older, she also knew what was coming my way. Foodie Hell = when a foodie is forced to make food for offspring who do not share the same appreciation for food and usually refuse to eat it.
I started making this recipe with the kids shortly there after. I really wanted to get the kids involved in cookery and I really struggle with my need to have everything just so, which can inhibit their exposure and experience of cooking with me. So for this recipe, we decamp from the kitchen counter over to the kitchen table for them. We set it all up and make this their workspace. I stay on the other side of the table and ‘coach’ them through each step. Usually only getting involved to crack the eggs and give a final stir before pouring out the batter in the prepared tin. The rest, including the mess, is for them. I let them lick the bowl and spoons and even help hoover the sprinkling of flour and sugar which always makes it way onto the floor.
Then they wait, usually in front of the oven, for it to finish baking. By the time it is taken out and needs to cool, they have usually lost interest. Just enough to go away and keep reappearing occasionally to ask if it is ready to eat yet. Again, and again.
I usually wait until afternoon between lunch and dinner for them to have a slice – usually we time it for this so they are not tormented all day. And then it is proudly displayed on the counter on a cake tier for the week, where it is sliced up for them to enjoy each day. I must admit I also really like them learning that just because there is cake around, they don’t need to eat it all in one go. Clearly I am making up for a lack of control from my side! But in truth, I feel if there is an appreciation for understanding this is a treat, then this could only serve them well in future.
Makes one cake, suitable for a 1Lb loaf tin, 23cm/9 inch round or a bundt tin
Adapted from the recipe published by Pamela Druckerman
As the recipe is proportional, you can use any small container (I often use the little Tommy Tippee pots from our weaning days) or if you happen to be in France you can save your little pots just for this. I also use two containers, one for dry and one for wet ingredients, but whatever works for you and your little one(s).
- 2 tubs (175g / 6 ozs each) Plain Whole Milk Yoghurt (I have also used non-dairy versions for this and even flavoured yoghurt)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla Essence, paste or powder (optional)
- 2 tubs Caster Sugar (or one if you prefer it less sweet)
- 1 scant tub Vegetable Oil
- 4 tubs Plain Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Tubs of Berries, frozen or fresh (or see alternatives listed below)
Set the oven to 190C / 375 F.
Assemble all the ingredients needed for the recipe on a surface suitable for your little one(s) to work on. You will also need two bowls for the ingredients.
Next, prepare the tin. You can use baking liners if you have them or make a mixture of 2 tsp of oil plus 2 tsp of plain flour and mix to a paste, then using a pastry brush apply to the inside of the tin. Turn it upside down over a paper towel to drip away any excess as you prepare the cake mixture.
Combine all the wet ingredients into one bowl; the yoghurt, eggs, vanilla (if using), oil plus the sugar.
In another bowl, measure out the dry ingredients; the flour, sugar and baking powder, and give it a stir to mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet bowl and stir to combine. Add in the berries, or alternatives, and gently stir through.
Pour the mixture into a prepared tin and place into the oven for 35 minutes. (Your chosen tin might require a little longer so use this as a guide.)
- 1 tub of Chocolate Chips or Cacao Nibs
- The zest of 1 lemon. Save the juice to combine with 1 tub of confectioners sugar to make a glaze to pour over the top of the cooled cake
- Replace 1 tub of flour with 1 tub of Ground Almonds
- 1 tsp of cinnamon with 1 pealed, cored and sliced apple
- 1 peach, stoned and sliced into small pieces