When I happened upon the inspiration for this cake (Gourmet Traveler Magazine, Yoghurt & Almond Cake with Orange-Caramel Peaches & Vanilla Yoghurt), I puzzled over the ingredient proportions and procedure. Was there enough fat to produce a moist cake? Was there enough flour to produce a cake that could carry its own weight? Was the egg proportion too high?
In general, the cake process seemed similar to a Classic Genoise, but a quick check on that technique reminded me that with a genoise, whole, warmed eggs are whipped, and clarified butter is used rather than oil.
In this cake, the egg yolks are not warmed and they are whipped separately from the egg whites. So then the cake begins to resemble a Classic Spongecake. But a Spongecake does not contain fat, yogurt, and added liquid.
Bottom line: I have no idea what basic category to assign to this cake. It’s part spongecake, part oil-based cake, part tea cake (the yogurt and almond meal).
I do know one thing definite about this cake now that I have tested it three times: It will not hold the weight of added fruit. Don’t even think about adding fresh blueberries, rhubarb, cranberries, or raspberries to the batter before baking—no matter how delicious that would be with the almond meal in the batter. You will get a soggy mess at the bottom of the cake. I also tried adding the cake batter on top of a blueberry compote and baking them together. This works reasonably well, if you want to try it. However, my preference is to serve the cake plain with fresh fruit, fruit compote, or fruit sauce alongside.
This cake, although a bit of work to make, is definitely worth the effort. It’s scrumptious on its own, with a delicate, moist texture that will suit even the most special occasion. But with the high proportion of eggs, low proportion of fat, and added yogurt and almonds, I can just as easily talk myself into having it for breakfast. Add fruit and hey, it’s lunch too.
Heavenly Almond Yogurt Cake
This is a beautifully flavored and textured cake that combines four of my favorite cake types: spongecake, olive oil cake, yogurt cake, and nut meal cake. It is finished with only a dusting of powdered sugar. It actually needs no accompaniment, but fresh fruit in one of its many guises is a perfect pairing. It’s great with lightly sweetened fresh strawberries, Crema, Strawberry Caramel Sauce, and Fresh Basil Sauce.
NOTE Something magical happens when olive oil and lime juice are combined. It’s subtle, but you will notice this delicious flavor pairing in the baked cake.
1 cup King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup almond meal (available at Trader Joe’s)
¾ cup Greek yogurt, cool room temperature
½ cup light olive oil (or half extra virgin olive oil and half vegetable oil)
finely grated zest of 2 large lime
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
4 large egg whites, cool room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
4 large egg yolks, cool room temperature
½ cup sugar
sliced almonds, optional
powdered sugar in a shaker
sweetened fresh fruit, fruit compote, or fruit syrup, optional
- Have all ingredients at cool room temperature. Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°.
- Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt or cake pan, or twelve, 6-8-ounce capacity ramekins; tap out excess flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the almond meal to fully distribute. Reserve.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lime zest, and lime juice. Reserve.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, scrape the egg whites out of the workbowl and into another bowl. Reserve.
- Reattach the workbowl and whisk to the mixer (no need to clean). Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the yogurt-oil mixture and mix to incorporate.
- Add the flour mixture and pulse briefly, just to combine. Remove the workbowl from the mixer.
- By hand, using a large flexible spatula, gently fold whipped egg whites into the cake batter.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan or ramekins and spread batter so the outside edge is about 1" higher than the inside edge.
- For ramekins, if desired, press almond slices lightly onto the top of the batter in a flower pattern.
- Bake until cake springs back when touched and pulls away from sides of pan, 55-60 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely in pan, 1-2 hours. Turn cake out onto a wire rack set over waxed paper.
Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.