Torta allo yogurt or torta sette vasetti is a gorgeous, fluffy Italian cake for people who have no kitchen scales. They now also have no excuse not to bake a cake.
Sette vasetti - seven pots
Cake of seven pots - it sounds magic, or Winnie the Pooh. Two days later, there was Pooh, sitting on his branch, dangling his legs, and there beside him, were four pots of honey...
One pot of yoghurt, one pot of oil, two pots of sugar and three pots of flour. Plus eggs and stuff that you don't need to weigh out.
Because this is the recipe for people who don't possess kitchen scales. You measure out all the other ingredients with the empty, clean pot that the yoghurt came in.
French toddler's cake
This cake is famously so easy that its French equivalent, gâteau au yaourt, is commonly known as ‘the toddler cake’. It’s apparently the first cake the French kids are taught to bake, at the age of 3 or thereabouts, when they don't know how to read kitchen scales.
If that's what they do at such tender age, I do hope they get to at least Ecole Elémentaire before they try madeleines or macarons! Otherwise I’m going to have serious confidence issues.
The Italians don’t bother teaching kids to bake. They all have nonnas after all who know and can do better. So I tackled the Italian version without much harm to self-esteem. Torta 7 vasetti, or torta allo yogurt, sounds grown up enough and doesn’t mention toddlers.
Pots to cups
Using a pot - or a cup - as a measure for cake ingredients is a common enough approach in America and some European countries. But how stressful it seems to me! Scooping a potful (or cupful) of flour from a standard bag, or sugar from even a smaller bag, does present a challenge.
How can you manage and succeed to measure it all out without spilling the flour all over the kitchen, making a tremendous mess and worrying senseless that the measurements are not precise: a packed cup? a heaped cup? a scant cup?
Definitely: life with a pair of kitchen scales is easier for an obsessive precision freak like me.
What size pot?
The recipe calls for a 120g (125ml) yoghurt pot which, annoyingly, is not common in the UK. Clearly small pots of natural yoghurt come in smaller size in Italy. As 150g is the usual 'small pot', I use that, and don't completely fill it.
The imprecision bothers me, as explained above, but as the result is always excellent, I hush my inner neurotic.
My yoghurt cake with lush icing
This particular recipe is a mix of several Italian ones, all very similar (I wonder why) like Giallo Zafferano’s for instance. It's the familiar cake batter-making process: eggs with sugar, plus oil, then lightly folded flour.
Most Italian recipes have it plain, but as plain cakes are boring, I like to add some fragrance in the form of rose water and lemon zest to the mix. Try your favourite liqueur (Sambucca, Cointreau or Chambord) if you like instead.
And you can take or leave the icing and serve the cake with cream or more yoghurt, but if you do drizzle it on, you won't regret it. It's the icing on the torta allo yogurt.