strawberry yoghurt cake
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Strawberry yoghurt cake baked in a Bundt tin, with smashed strawberry icing, is not just a pretty pink thing. It’s a velvety, fragrant sponge cake, like the lightest strawberry pound cake with those lovely Bundt ridges dripping with fresh strawberry icing.
I grew up in a baking household; with my masterly Grandmother, the producer of brioches for breakfast, apple tarts in autumn and the lightest sponges that ever existed; and my mother, who sometimes tried. In the days before KitchenAids or even handheld devices (and you know I mean the hand mixer here, he he) butter used to be creamed with sugar by hand, using a wooden spoon and a special bowl with rough sides. Granny must have had mighty toned upper arms.
From those days I’d always known the bane of cake baking: curdling. Oh, no, the mix has curdled! wailed my mum (Granny not so often) and I understood that meant a write-off and no pudding. Indeed, the way the curdled batter looked did not inspire confidence in cake at the end of the tunnel.
Curdling is a great phenomenon when you’re making cheese; it’s not so desirable in cake batters. You beat the butter with sugar and it’s fluffy as anything, in goes the first egg and the beautiful smooth mixture turns into failed scrammies. The fat separates from the liquid, forms horrid lumps and the next egg doubles the trouble.
Smarty baker pants claim it’s because of the difference in the temperature of the individual ingredients that causes the curdling – that’s a load of bull. I always use eggs, butter and everything at room temperature and my mixes still curdle away if they want to. Once you’ve added flour, things improve but apparently that is treating symptoms not the cause as a GBBO winner I’d never heard of snootily instructs.
I’d been living in terror of the c-word in the beginning of my baking career but gradually realised that – guess what – curdling doesn’t matter. It can curdle all it likes and the cake will come out good, sometimes maybe better. So I pay no mind to the lumpy split of my batter and wait for the addition of the flour to smooth things out.
This cake is Curdle Central. It’s Split of Splits. It looks so bad for a time you might want to avert your gaze from the bowl. But since even Yossy Arefi warns that the mix may curdle, in her recipe posted in NY Times Cooking which I used, it clearly isn’t the bogeyman I was raised to fear. At least in the cake mix: sauces, frostings and custards are an entirely different story.
strawberry yoghurt cakeServings: 12-16Time: about 2 hours
- 260g (2 cups) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (extra for buttering the tin)
- 225g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (reserve 1 tsp juice for icing)
- 2 large eggs
- 200g (scant cup) full fat plain yoghurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 270g (1¾ cup) fresh strawberries, topped and sliced (plus a couple more for icing)
- For the icing:
- 3-4 strawberries (30g), mashed with a fork
- 125g (1 cup) icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.Thoroughly butter a Bundt tin making sure every nook and cranny is greased – otherwise the cake will stick. Sprinkle it with flour and shake out the excess.
2. Stir the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl, set aside.
3. Beat the butter with the sugar and lemon zest until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes with a mixer at high speed. Add the eggs, one by one, and beat well after each. Add the yoghurt, vanilla and 2 tbsp. lemon juice – the mixture will curdle awfully but that’s all right; add the flour mix next and beat until just combined.
4. Drop a few spoonfuls of the batter into the prepared tin; that’s to stop the strawberries sinking and sticking to the bottom. Stir the sliced strawberries into the rest of the batter trying to distribute evenly. Scrape the batter into the tin, smooth the top and run a long knife through it several times, to get rid of air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
5. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the tin. When the cake is cool, turn it out onto a plate.
6. To make the icing, beat the icing sugar into the mashed strawberries until smooth. If the icing is too thick, add some reserved lemon juice.
7. Pour the icing over the cake, let it run or scoop the overflowing icing with a spoon and pour it back onto the cake. Let it set, slice and serve with extra fresh strawberries.