Is it safe to claim the title of Queen of Lemon Cakes yet? I think my love of lemony cakes has been well established and I hope I’ve turned a few of you onto to the magic that is citrus-y baked goods in the process.
I saw this recipe in the May issue of Bon Appétit as I was flying back from Michigan one sleepy morning. Of course I knew I’d have to make it. There have been cakes with butter, cakes with cream, but not yet a lemon cake made with thick Greek yoghurt and oil. I had to try it and happily it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s a gorgeous cake, specked with lemon zest and packed full of flavour.
French Yoghurt Cake
from Bon Appétit, May, 2012
- Oil, to grease pan
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher/coarse salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease pan with vegetable oil. Dust with flour; tap out excess.
- Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Using your fingers, rub the lemon zest into the sugar in a large bowl until sugar is moist and fragrant. Add yoghurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula just to blend. Don’t over mix.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50–55 minutes.
- Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack and let it cool completely. Best bit: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
I’m one of those slightly irritating people that gets pretty darn excited around this time of year because all of a sudden my beloved citrus is fading and – oh! look! asparagus! rhubarb! spring! Yep, that’s me. Mostly I keep this excitement inside because really, I don’t want to annoy everyone, but seeing all these things pop up means only one thing: soon I can wear sandals, bare my legs, sit in the sun, go swimming, and make summer pies. And that, friends, is happiness to me.
Rhubarb feels really English to me – Rhubarb and Custard anyone?! – although living in the States my inkling is to put it in a pie before I make rhubarb and custard or a crumble. The first thing I did with this bunch – my very first of the season – was simply to stew it into a compote with a mix of spices, sugar, and lemon juice. Oh and some strawberries! Which smelled too good not to buy even though I’m well aware it’s not strawberry season yet. Look, nobody’s perfect.
The oh-so sweet compote went beautifully on these buckwheat/wholewheat flour waffles which aren’t too sweet. A dollop of crème fraîche adds a lovely tang. Clearly, bacon is a must on the side. Brits, I know it’s hard to wrap your head around bacon with a sweet breakfast but I urge you to give it a try. If you like sweet-salty combos otherwise (think chocolate sea salt cookies or salted caramel) then you’ll love it. Really, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather have with waffles or pancakes than bacon.
Oh and lastly, any leftover compote can be refrigerated for several days and gores wonderfully with yoghurt and granola in a parfait.
Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb Strawberry Compote
adapted from my buckwheat pancakes and rhubarb compote
For the waffles
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup wholewheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk or milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- canola oil, to grease waffle maker
For the compote
- 8oz medium rhubarb stalks leaves removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 8oz strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Make the compote: In a medium saucepan, mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, about 8 minutes. Transfer the rhubarb to a small bowl and let cool or cover and refrigerate until thick, at least 1 hour. (Can be made up to a day in advance.)
- Melt two tablespoons unsalted butter in a small pan and set aside to cool slightly.
- Combine buckwheat flour, wholewheat flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl and whisk together.
- In a separate, larger bowl combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, and melted butter. Whisk til the mixture is smooth and completely blended.
- Grease waffle iron with canola oil using a pastry brush and heat. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and use a spatula to mix until just combined. Pour some the mixture into heated waffle maker. Cook to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately with compote and crème fraîche. Makes 2 or 3 large waffles.
If you’ve been reading my blog a while you might know that Austin, Texas has a special place in my heart. It’s where I experienced America for the very first time as a student; it’s where I met Dan; and it’s where Dan and I got married.
Beyond the sentimental value, Austin is pretty easy to love. It has everything I didn’t expect from Texas when I first arrived: green grass, hills, lakes, springs, waterfalls, and damn good live music everywhere you turned. My life as a student there was spent staring in awe at the everyday blue skies, getting used to always having a reddy-brown glow, and eating waaaay too much of everything. I fell in love hard.
Of all the food delights that I came to know and love, breakfast tacos are up there as a perennial fave. We used to go to this place called Juan in a Million (geddit?) where the Don Juan taco came stuffed beyond all reasonable measure with potato, egg, bacon, and cheese in a deliciously hot tortilla. It set you back all of $3 and required loose fitting clothes and a can-do attitude.
These tacos don’t really require a recipe; simply gather some or all of the ingredients listed below, roll ‘em up, and dig in! They’re pretty spectacular for brunch with friends alongside a greyhound and some salty chips and hot salsa.
The other mega-spectacular thing I’m sharing with you today is these black beans. I’ve (unsurprisingly) found a lot of inspiration from The Homesick Texan cookbook, and these beans are no exception: they’re smoky and tender, with a lovely kick.
- 4 flour tortillas (or 8 soft corn tortillas, since they’re about half the size of the flour ones)
- 8 eggs
- Dash half-and-half, cream, or milk
- Salt and pepper
- Canola oil
- 12 rashers streaky bacon (or swap this for sausage patties or chorizo)
- Austin-style black beans, recipe below (or swap re-fried beans)
- 1 large handful grated cheese (pepper jack is great)
- Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl with a dash of half-and-half, cream, or milk and a pinch of salt.
- Heat a pan or iron skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. When oil is warm, pour in eggs and scramble for about three minutes or until done to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Warm your tortillas on a clean, dry skillet. When tortilla starts to puff (about 20 seconds) turn it over and cook for another 20 seconds.
- Serve tortillas with all the fixings for people to make themselves including: black or refried beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, grated cheese, and either a slice of bacon or sausage patty.
- Fold in the bottom of the tortilla, and then roll from left to right until self-contained. Gobble, with a greyhound in hand. Serves four.
Austin-Style Black Beans
adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
- 1 lb dried black beans
- 1 tablespoon of lard, bacon grease, or canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Rinse and sort through the beans, removing any stones. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and then cook for 15 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander in the sink.
- Return the empty pot to the stove and warm the vegetable oil (or lard/bacon fat) over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots while occasionally stirring and cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are lighter, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic to the pot and cook for a minute more.
- Return the drained beans to the pot, along with the chipotle chiles and 1/4 cup of cilantro. Cover beans with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.
- After 1 1/2 hours, add the remaining cilantro, cumin, tomato paste, and lime juice. Taste and add salt. Cook for 30 more minutes or until beans are tender. When done, smash a few against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the broth. Stir the pot and serve.