September 12, 2009

Ode to yogurt

With so many blackberries in the freezer left over from the summer picking, one tries to find creative, as well as tasty, ways to use them. Blackberry waffles made from scratch are an excellent choice, but since I've made them already once or twice, I wanted something different, something more dessert-like. Remembering a simple yogurt cake discovered online several months ago, and the variations I've previously made with it, I thought that blackberries might add something a little new to the mix. I've made a lemon version, an almond version, and one with strawberries, and they were all good, although the almond cake turned out the best. The most basic version, with lemon zest, sans almonds, is a standard in French baking, according to the websites where the recipe was found. My attempts at making the basic yogurt cake have not turned out well, strangely enough, with the first having too much yogurt, by mistake, and the second collapsing in the middle, due to faulty baking powder. It happens.

Yogurt comes in handy in so many baked goods recipes, from making moist cakes to tender scones and crisp waffles, and it's a substitute that I've come to prefer over a few other ingredients because of the marked difference it makes. This particular cake made everyone in the house happy, with calls for another one just to "make sure it tastes alright." Everyone always wants seconds, and there wasn't enough cake to go around twice. It's a very moist, very simple, and rather rustic cake. Ground up almonds lend a little crunchiness and blackberries a little extra sweetness. Because I didn't have any parchment paper in stock, and because of the moisture from the berries, the cake did not want to part from the bottom of the pan easily, so I just left it and cut out pieces like you would with a pie. Easy enough.

Yogurt Cake with Blackberries
Adapted from Orangette and Bon App├ętit, February 2005

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole almonds
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup safflower oil (or mild flavored olive oil)
⅔ to 1 cup frozen blackberries (do not thaw)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. Cut out a round of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of pan, and butter and flour the parchment as well.

Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, being careful not to turn them into a paste. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just to combine. Fold in the oil.

Pour about half of the batter, or a little more, into the prepared pan. Distribute frozen blackberries evenly over the batter. Pour the remaining half of batter over the berries, covering them as evenly as possible.

Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or when a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, cake feels springy to the touch, and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. It may take a little longer to bake because of the frozen berries, so if the cake browns too quickly, tent the edges with aluminum foil.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto the rack to cool completely.

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