Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Health Food

I've had a pretty stressful last couple of weeks. Somehow I've persisted with this meditative eating thing, though I've gotta tell you, I'd really like a glass of wine right now...

I'm half inclined to keep going indefinitely (wine notwithstanding) but the thing I won't do tomorrow is yoga. Fourteen days straight is enough. I'm taking a couple of days off because I'm tired.

At work today, my friend brought in a few small pieces of her homemade French yogurt cake and generously handed me the ziploc in which they rested appealingly. After I bit into the third slice she said (quizzically but nicely): Oh, so you want the whole bag? Seriously, people, it was so delicious, I actually didn't feel so bad. The experience overrode any potential shame! FY cake is healthy, real food - if on the treat end of the spectrum. My friend does not enjoy gluten so she bakes with substitute flour (in this case a rice blend). I can't say I've been motivated to bake with rice flour but, given the success I've had with pie crust - and that I inhaled J's cake - I'm changing my stance.

I was so enamoured of J's cake (in loaf format) that I went to buy eggs, an organic orange (for zest) and Greek yogurt (I generally eat French-style). Turns out I had the perfect amount of brown rice flour remaining (from my crust-making over the weekend). BTW, just cuz they market it for crust doesn't mean you can't use it elsewhere...

Stupidly, I forgot that I have palm sugar and coconut sugar in the cupboard (I could have healthied it up, marginally more) but I always cut the amount of sugar in a cake recipe by 25% (except in pound cake).

Here's how you make it: Measure out 3/4 cup full fat plain yogurt, 1/2 cup oil, sea salt, 3/4 (or 1) cup of some sort of granular sugar, @1 tbsp orange zest, vanilla, 1.5 cups gluten-free flour (rice flour base), 2 eggs

Mix the dry stuff in a measuring cup. Add the sugar and zest and infuse the sugar by spoon-stirring them together in a medium bowl for a minute or so. There's alchemy in this. Add all of the wet ingredients to the sugar. Stir to incorporate. Inhale the heady scent of orange sugar. It energizes and calms simultaneously. Then add the cup with the dry ingredients. Just use a fork to work them in till the batter blends smoothly. Pour into a prepared loaf pan (prevent sticking using your fave prep method - mine's butter).

Did I mention it takes 15 minutes to make (including clean up) and then you pop it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 F.

I swear to God, my entire house smells like the south of France in July - the muted scent of an orange-grove. What could be better? The rice flour creates a ridiculously moist, leavened cake with good, sticky crumb. I don't know how this flour would work if the recipe weren't so rich in fat, but in an oily cake, it's fantastic. Once again - I actually prefer rice to wheat flour. I have never liked its texture but now I know that there are lighter alternatives.

So here it is (but now it's gone)...

What? It's a freakin' loaf and I live with a 15 yo. And we both have PMS.

The bottom was a perfect sandy shade of tan - the platonic ideal for white cake! I added more salt than was called for. I love unexpected, crunchy zaps as I wade through the sweetness that surrounds them.

And I don't care how insane it makes me sound, this cake was soul-restoring. Each bite forged a synaptic connection with a gentle time and place. The taste and texture veritably transported one.

That, my friends, is the meaning of health food.

PS: I think you could easily make this in a spring form pan but I'd double the recipe or make it in a smaller pan (and cook for less long).


  1. This sounds amazingly lovely!
    Thanks for the recipe.

  2. "...this cake was soul-restoring. Each bite forged a synaptic connection with a gentle time and place. The taste and texture veritably transported one.

    That, my friends, is the meaning of health food."


    1. Happy to know I'm not alone in this perspective!

  3. Better ingredients, fewer chemicals...I take home baking over store bought any day! Yum!

  4. I'm trying this tomorrow. I have some yoghurt in the fridge that wasn't nice...(plain, always eat plain Greek yoghurt but the texture was weird) and I remember a yoghurt cake my friend use to make 20 years ago, so I was going to look one up.. thanks for doing the hard work for me, you know testing the recipe! Can't wait.

  5. Try to pour it in a flat pie pan. The dough should be no more than 1 inch and add spread raspberries on top. Bake. It is so simple and delicious.

  6. Sometime I wish you were on Facebook so I could llke, like, like your posts. You nearly made me laugh at loud, in a gallery cafe in Madrid. That is one successful cake. 😋