There are only a few little pleasures in life that can compare with whipping up an easy cake from scratch. Little effort, few ingredients, a simple procedure and your house suddenly smells like something sweet is baking in the oven. Even as experienced as I like to consider myself – on a domestic level, of course – and despite the fact that I enjoy the challenge of a complex recipe, I find that getting busy with a simple cake sometimes can be even more rewarding.
The feeling of your hands moving almost automatically, making those easy tasks that a simple cake requires. Cracking the eggs, measuring the flour, mixing it all up with a hand mixer. Sitting on the floor facing the oven and looking at the cake swelling up in its tin, the magic of baking taking place right there in front of your eyes. I will always have the energy to do this, even after the longest and busiest of days. Making simple cakes relaxes me, it’s the only thing I can do when I’m drained of all energy for anything else.
Here’s a simple one that requires very little effort, one of those comfort cakes that are perfect in the morning together with a cup of milk. The procedure is simple and very enjoyable. I warmly suggest to follow it savouring the pleasure of each step, from inhaling the essential oils of the lemon when grating its skin, to feeling the batter getting thicker while mixing in the flour. Take this recipe as an exercise to enjoy baking in its most simple and genuine form.
Lemony yoghurt loaf cake:
- 200 g flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 200 g brown sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 250 g Turkish yoghurt
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 175° C. In one bowl measure the flour and stir in the baking powder. Set aside. In another bowl measure the brown sugar and grate the zest of a lemon over it. With a rubber spatula, stir the zest in until the grated zest gets properly rubbed into the sugar. Add the yoghurt (I used Turkish, which is 10% fat, bur full-fat Greek yoghurt is also great), the eggs and the oil and beat with a hand mixer until combined. I decided to use brown sugar mostly for its colour, so that the batter would take up this wonderful caramel shade. When all the wet ingredients have been combined with the sugar, add half of the flour mixture and mix it in at low speed. Then add the second half and keep mixing until all of it is incorporated and there are no lumps, about a couple of minutes.
Grease a loaf pan with butter and subsequently dust it with flour. Pour the cake batter in the pan and bake it at 175° C for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.This cake is so simple it is virtually foolproof. I’m sure that even a beginner would not fail it. And again, the pleasure of simple things lies in simplicity. The grated lemon zest gives this cake a subtle lemony scent and the brown sugar gives it this warm tone. The cake is moist and fluffy and absorbs milk divinely when dunked in a bowl of milk.It was not supposed to look beautiful, it was supposed to make you feel how beautiful simple baking can be. How beautiful simple baking can taste. To me, simple baking is the best form of therapy.