Now that spring is in full throttle, not to be denied or made to go back under that sleepy winter blanket, it is hard to look back at the coziness (and cold) of winter and feel any sort of warm glow inside. I am chomping at the bit for fresh baby vegetables from the garden and the bbq! Still, a few weeks ago things were not quite so far along and our almond tree, which now looks like this
looked like this
(As you can see in the first shot, it's raining today, which I why I did not go looking for wild leeks and did not make the pesto recipe that I am looking forward to sharing with you. But hey, all the more to look forward to, right?)
And in the fever of wanting, wanting, wanting spring and warmer weather I remembered that I still had a bag of cherries sitting in the back of my freezer that I halved, pitted and flash froze last summer. I knew I had to act fast. It would not do to have those cherries still around when the real competition came back on stage - fresh beats frozen any old day and I had saved those cherries so that I could have a burst of summer flavor in the depths of winter. So I thought and rummaged and came up with a plan. A sweet and simple plan, perfect to accompany a cup of tea on a raining spring day (like this one).
I structured my plan around the recipe for french-style yoghurt cake that was posted on Orangette way back and that I find myself turning to time and again for its simplicity and also because when I make it I can actually just use the yoghurt container, which makes me feel quirky and old-fashioned in a good way. Of course, you need to buy your yoghurt in a plastic container or jar that holds about 1/2 a cup but it's worth any possible extra effort involved because aside from feeling quirky and trendily old-fashioned, you'll also have the feeling that you really know what you're doing, you know, no measuring cups!
Of course the cherries gave the cake that little something extra. And in the process of measuring
I realized that frozen cherries are incredibly delicious. I might even have to freeze up a bunch this summer and make some sort of slushy treat instead of waiting again until winter has come and gone to enjoy the bounty.
I only made a few minor adjustments to the Orangette recipe. I added the cherries, of course, and a pinch or two of salt (I like my sweets a little salty). I also reduced the amount of sugar slightly and used vegetable oil instead of canola oil. And I left out the glaze because I didn't want anything interfering with the cherries. But feel free to add it, if you want. You will find the recipe for it in the original post.
I have a habit of making cakes in miniature pans like the one above. There are only two of us and, although it may be hard to believe, there really is only so much cake two people can eat. With the smaller cake pans I can put one out to eat right away and freeze the others for later on in the week or to bring along on a spontaneous visit to a friend.
So here's the recipe. Enjoy!
Yoghurt cake with summer cherries (for winter!)
Slightly adapted from the recipe posted on Orangette
(again 1 jar equals about 1/2 cup)
1 jar plain yogurt, whole milk (I know, I know, but whole milk yogurt is soooo much better, especially when you bake)
1 3/4 jars sugar
3 large eggs
3 jars unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 jar vegetable oil
2 tsp grated lemon zest (you could substitute the lemon zest for orange zest if you want a cherry-orange cake. With toasted almond slivers or pecans on top....)
About 15 to 20 halved and pitted cherries, frozen, depending on how cherry you want it. (That will give you 30-40 cherry halves).
Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit (180º Celsius)
In a large bowl combine the yogurt, eggs and sugar and stir until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder and lemon zest, if using. Combine. Now comes the odd part. Add the oil. It won't stir in right away and will look like a gloppy mess but keep stirring and it will blend in eventually. Pour about half the batter into a buttered 9-inch round cake pan or divide half of the batter between 4 4-inch cake pans. Place half of the frozen cherry halves cut-side down on the batter. Don't worry, they will sink a bit. Add the rest of the batter, dividing in among the pans if you are using more than one. Put the pan or pans in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the cake has just started to set. Carefully plop the remaining cherries, cut side down, on top of the cake in a pretty pattern of your choice. Slide the cake back into the oven and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean. I've found that the cakes take a little longer to bake because of the fruit.
Let the cakes cool on a rack. I find it best to remove them from the pan after about 15 minutes and then let them continue to cool completely. They tend to slide out easier when they are still warm.