My mother in law Gabriella is one of the best chefs I have ever met! Being from Tuscany, she mainly practices traditional Tuscan cuisine, which she learnt from her mum, who used to be a cook for an Italian aristocratic family. Gabriella can make delicious, healthy dishes using just a few ingredients – she is like a magician in the kitchen! It’s a shame we live so far apart, me in England and her in Italy, because there is so much she could teach me which I could never find in a cook book.
Years ago she gave me this super-easy yoghurt cake recipe. It’s great for breakfast and it can also be turned into a lovely dessert simply by adding some crema pasticcera (Italian pastry cream).
- 1 150 g pot natural yoghurt (retain pot for measuring sugar, flour, oil as below)
- 2 eggs
- 1 pot caster sugar
- 3 pots self raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 pot vegetable oil
- 1 lemon grated zest
- butter to grease
FOR THE CREMA PASTICCERA
- 400 ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 40 g plain flour
- 100 g sugar
Preheat the oven to 180º and butter a 20 cm round baking tin ( a slightly bigger one for a ring baking tin). Put the yoghurt in a bowl or in the mixer, then wash and dry the yoghurt pot to be used as a measuring cup.
Add the eggs, 1 pot of sugar, 3 pots of flour, 1/2 pot of oil, baking powder, a pinch of salt and the lemon zest. Mix all the ingredients using a mixer. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Warm the milk over low heat with the vanilla extract. Meanwhile, lightly whisk the yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl, whisking gently, and making sure that no lumps form. Whisk in the sugar too, being careful to eliminate any lumps. By this time, the milk on the stove will be about ready to boil. Add the vanilla extract and slowly whisk the warmed milk into the egg mixture. Return the cream to the pot and continue cooking over low heat, stirring gently, until it barely reaches a simmer. Transfer it to a bowl and let it cool; place some plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming as it cools. Then cut the cake horizontally, creating two halves, and spread the cream on one half before adding the other half on top.
This cake is light, delicious and really easy to make for everyone. As I said – perfect for a sweet breakfast, coffee break treat or an elegant dessert. I have made a crema pasticcera to go with it here, but some whipped cream or a nice chocolate spread would work just as well.
To go with the Yoghurt Cake, I suggest one of the many excellent sweet wines produced in Italy and normally used for desserts. I’d like to introduce you here to Passito – an Italian sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes. The name is from the Italian word ‘appassimento’, which means ‘withering’. Drying the grapes causes the sugars to become very dense, creating wines with high alcohol content, a sweeter taste and tannins. Of all the many passito wines, the Malvasia and the Vin Santo are my favourites with desserts. However, my suggestion to go with Rita’s cake is Moscato d’Asti – a sparkling white DOCG wine produced in the North West of Italy, with only 5% alcohol, so very light. The sweetness and bubbles of Moscato balance beautifully the acidity of the yoghurt in the cake. The correct temperature to serve Moscato is between 8 and 12 degrees, and remember to finish the bottle as the sparkling effect will soon disappear. Enjoy!
Un buon vino è come un buon film:
dura un istante e ti lascia in bocca un sapore di gloria;
è nuovo ad ogni sorso e, come avviene con i film,
nasce e rinasce in ogni assaggiatore.
Federico Fellini (1920 – 1993)