Lemon Riviera Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze – A Fresh Start to the New Year

After the excesses of Christmas and the New Year (ok, mostly Christmas food), I needed a guilt-free way to assuage my baking need. So I pulled out one of my favorites – Dorie Greenspan’s French Lemon Yoghurt Cake.

By the way, Dorie Greenspan is one of my favourite cookbook authors… I do have many favourites and do use recipes by many other famous cooks / chefs, but Dorie holds a special place in my heart. I always find her recipes incredibly well-written, and I love her style, which is homely, French-inspired with a slight American twang. I can honestly say that this is the only book that I have wanted (and tried) to bake through, from cover to cover. I can totally understand why there are blogs dedicated to baking through every recipe in Dorie’s books!

She also leaves lots of room for playing around in her recipes, which are wonderful… did I mention I love her recipe-writing? Ok yes, I do suffer from a (more than) small amount of culinary idolism when it comes to Dorie Greenspan. So I guess this post is a sort-of-rave about Dorie! Plus she just looks like a nice person… like a pixie : )

Ok, enough idolizing and on to the loaf cake. This lemon yoghurt cake is one of the easier recipes in Dorie’s book – you literally just combine the wet and dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. No mixer required at all. It’s healthy too – there’s no butter since I use olive oil as Dorie suggests, so it’s practically guilt-free! What more can one ask for? ; )

I love baking this cake during the weekend for the week ahead. It’s the perfect cake to take to work or school for tea time hunger pangs.

As Dorie’s recipe is pretty perfect, I can bake it straight from the book without any modifications. However I do like to use olive oil as mentioned because I like to believe it’s healthier, and I sometimes change up the flavor combinations with lemon and rosemary, lemon and lavender, or orange and rosemary depending on my mood.

The lemon glaze takes it up a notch, and I’ve topped the cake with preserved lemon slices. But you can just bake the loaf straight up as and it will still be scrumptious.

All in all, it’s a wonderful loaf cake!

20130120-081005.jpgWho says the best things in life can’t be guilt-free?

20130120-081032.jpgLemon preserves – tangy and tantalizing

The recipe is provided below. Enjoy!

Lemon Riviera Loaf Cake
Recipe courtesy of “Dorie Greenspan: Baking from my Home to Yours”

Ingredients
128g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g / 1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained, for glazing the top (optional)
1 teaspoon water, for glazing the top (optional)

Method
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you’re using them, baking powder and salt and keep near by as well.
3. Put the sugar, zest and minced rosemary in a medium bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the zest and rosemary into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic.
4. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, stir in the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.
5. Srape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
6. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it will be golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.
7. Transfer the pan to a rack, cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.
8. To make the glaze:

  • Put the marmalade in a small pot or a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of water and heat (on the range or in the microwave oven) until the jelly is hot and liquefied.
  • Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.
  • A Cake Promise Fulfilled & The First Turkey of the Year

    Ahhh… Chenny made good on her promise! A year ago she promised Kit she would bake a cake for her birthday, and boy did she deliver!

    Kit’s birthday Sunday started off very pleasantly, with family brunch at Cafe Brunetti in Singapore. It was our first time eating there, and we’re so glad that we did! Their gelato ice cream is one of the best we’ve tried in Singapore. Their gelato comes in fantastic flavours, like Cherry Mania and Orange Custard; flavours that make us envious and wish that that we had thought of it ourselves. Of course we ate ‘proper’ food as well, but naturally the gelato was the highlight for us : )

    After brunch, we took a stroll to work off the calories. We ended up in the Tanglin supermarket, where Mum got very excited when she spotted more turkeys for sale.

    Would just like to mention that roasting turkeys is (one of) Mum’s specialities, and even though we were still 3 weeks from Christmas, she decided to heck it and roast a turkey for Kit’s birthday too. It was an underhanded tactic to entice Kit to eat meat (Kit is a pescatarian but makes an exception only on Christmas when she gives in to her carnivorous side and indulges in Mum’s Christmas turkey). Mums have their ways!

    So the dinner menu was roast turkey, lemon chestnut dressing (sounds a bit odd but it actually tastes pretty awesome), seafood gumbo, black organic wild jasmine rice with pistachios and cranberries, and a salad of brussel sprouts, chicory leaves and Parmesan shavings. Yum!! No leftovers at all! : D

    Yumm....Yumm….

    As for the cake, Mum suggested using a prize-winning sponge cake recipe from her beloved Australian Women’s Weekly. We were a little dubious at first as the recipe only uses 2 tablespoons of flour, but then realized how intriguing it was so off we went : )

    We decided to layer the cake with strawberries and blueberries, swathed with whipped cream. Pleased to report that it turned out wonderful, even on the first bake! And not too sinful too, as the cake doesn’t have any butter or oil in it. An even better reason to have multiple slices! : )

    Berries galore!

    More beautiful berries!!

    So here’s the recipe, adapted slightly from Natalie Dick’s Prize-Winning Sponge Cake (published in the Australian Women’s Weekly).

    Victorian Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream & Mixed Berries

    Ingredients

    2 heaped teaspoons of plain flour
    1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1 level teaspoon cream of tartar
    Cornflour (to fill above ingredients up to 1 cup)
    4 eggs, at room temperature
    3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

    Filling and Topping

    300ml whipping cream or heavy cream
    1 tablespoon icing sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
    1 punnet (approx 450g) of fresh strawberries
    1 punnet (approx 250g) of fresh blueberries

    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Grease (use canola oil spray) two 20cm round cake tins, ensuring you grease the sides of tin well so sponge rises neatly.
    2. Put plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar in a 1 cup (250ml) measuring cup. Fill the remainder of the cup with cornflour.
    3. Beat eggs and sugar on a high speed for 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds to combine.
    4. While eggs are beating, sift flour mixture three times onto greaseproof paper.
    5. Turn mixer to lowest speed and gently add flour mixture and beat for 1 minute until smooth. Divide mixture between two well-greased 20cm round cake tins. Place in oven on centre shelf and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until sponge springs back when touched or sponge is coming away from side of tin.
    6. Take sponges out of oven. Place baking paper on wire cake racks to cover. Turn sponges out from tins onto the wire racks. Allow sponges to cool completely.

    Assembly
    1. Remove the green tops of half of the strawberries and slice them lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. The remaining strawberries (keep the nicer-looking ones) are for decorating the top, and slice those into halves.
    2. Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla essence until you have a smooth whipped cream.
    3. Place one sponge cake on a serving plate. This is the base. Spoon half of the whipped cream on to the base sponge cake and smooth to the edges using an offset spatula, leaving about 1.5cm for the cream to spread to the edges once the 2nd layer is on.
    4. Top the whipped cream with the slices strawberries and half of the blueberries.
    5. Place the second sponge on top of the berries, and spoon on the remaining whipped cream to the edges using an offset spatula.
    6. Decorate the top with the remaining strawberries & blueberries, or as desired.

    Hunnybeekitchen’s Jottings
    1. Intensify the strawberry / fruit flavor by spreading a layer of jam on top of the cream & before the fruit. Home made jam made with overripe fruits (e.g. peaches, apricots, plums, etc) would be lovely, but store bought jam is fine too.
    2. It’s better to grease & line the bottom & sides of the cake time with baking paper. Due to the sponge’s lightness, we found that the sides still stuck to the tins.
    3. A light dusting of icing sugar on top of the cake would be a nice finishing touch. : )

    The Nylon Pink Velvet Cake & 5 Tips for Better Frosting

    “Shall we bake a cake for Lomography’s Anniversary Potluck?

    My boss volunteered to contribute a cake on behalf of Nylon Singapore.”

    Ummm when do we ever say no to cake-baking? Feeling quite honoured, we set off armed with alarmingly pink fantasies… Neon pink block letters spelling “Nylon” made of gum paste or royal icing. Deep, almost crimson pink layers covered with pale petal-pink frosting. Ruffled borders coloured to match the cake layers.

    The idea was to adapt a roux-based frosting by substituting the white chocolate with cream cheese, and simply add pink colouring to the previous whiteout cake recipe. We could have been more ambitious and tried to make a more “authentic” pink velvet cake by putting white chocolate in the cake itself (which would parallel the chocolate goodness of classic red velvet cakes better), but admittedly we were not bothered to go that far because (a) we both have full-time jobs and didn’t have luxury of time to sit down and re-engineer the entire recipe; and (b) we had a feeling that incorporating cream cheese into the frosting would be challenging enough. How true that turned out to be… Anyway, we shall file away “Work on Ultimate Pink Velvet Cake Recipe” at the moment and whip it out when the mood is right again. : )

    Anyway back to the cake story – so we baked the cake, and it turned out well, with the desired deep crimson pink colour even after baking. We then progressed to the frosting … and with some (or perhaps a little more than some) paranoia we added a lot more flour to the roux base, hoping that it would further thicken the frosting before adding cream cheese. That seemed to work, however the taste of flour became too pronounced so we cooked the roux for a longer time and crossed our fingers that the taste of cream cheese would mask the taste of flour later (which doesn’t sound very appealing!) After cooking the roux base for as long as we dared, we added the butter and the cream cheese. (Initial) result – a beautiful, fluffy and seemingly stable cream cheese frosting. Feelings of happiness pervaded the household and we went to sleep content.

    The next day, the frosting still looked fine (ok, well it had been in the fridge for almost 24 hours so actually it was super hard) even after we beat it the first time. Once we began to decorate the cake, however, we watched with dismay as the frosting became gloopier and gloopier, running down the sides of the cake. We knew that it wouldn’t hold up to any additional borders, banners, ruffles or anything else.

    We tried everything to save the frosting – multiple attempts with icing sugar, multiple attempts at chilling and re-chilling, even white chocolate and meringue powder. The wonderfully smooth and fluffy consistency that we caught a glimpse of earlier was gone… but we managed to salvage a sort-of workable consistency, and we ditched our ambitious plans for crimson banners. It was getting late in the night too… but with great determination, the cake was finished. : )

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    Happy Anniversary Lomography!

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      Before dispatching it off…

    The next day, the Nylon cake was dispatched to the Lomo potluck and we hoped that no one noticed the sloppy frosting too much.

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    Looking pretty good!

    In the end it wasn’t a roaring success, but we’re glad that people seemed to like it and the cake was appropriately demolished. That’s the important thing. Yippee! : D

    20121211-100849.jpg
    Aaaahhh… cake enjoyment!

    Hope that everyone enjoyed the cake! And thanks to the people at Nylon for the cool photos!

    So what did we learn from it? Below are 5 tips for better frosting that we’ve gleaned from this experience. Here’s to more learning in the future (but not to more runny frostings please!)

    5 Tips for Better Frosting

    #1 – Cream cheese can be a tricky ingredient to work with in frostings. When adding cream cheese to frosting, we should only add just enough cream cheese for the frosting to acquire the flavour. No more! Especially not in the humid Singapore weather.

    #2 – Don’t re-beat any frosting with cream cheese too much. We knew that adding too much cream cheese could make the frosting too soft, but we’ve now learned that too much re-beating of any frosting with cream cheese will make the cream cheese even more slimy. Result – too soft frosting again! But we still think there’s possibilities in combining cream cheese with a roux-based frosting. We will not give up! Which leads us to…

    #3 – Keep experiments as experiments, and don’t attempt a new frosting the night before the cake is due. Being experimental is good, but we should have practiced the frosting and perfected it before letting it out for public consumption : P

    #4 – The refridgerator is frosting’s friend. Especially in our hot Singapore weather, chilling a frosting is a must. However chilling a cake too much can lead to dryness, so it’s a fine balance.

    #5 – Sprinkles can save the day with gloopy frostings, especially scattered along the sides of the cake where gloopiness is most pronounced. Ok, this isn’t exactly a tip to improve frosting, more of a tactic to salvage a cake when the situation is already quite desperate ; )

    Chenny’s Celebratory “Promo” Cake & White Chocolate Deliciousness

    Congrats Chenny on being promoted! (And yes Chenny you’re right we do look for any reason to bake a cake… hence you’re getting a “Promo” cake ; ))

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    Did someone say “cake”? : )

    Thanks to you, we decided on your favourite white chocolate, and now we have discovered an awesome go-to white chocolate icing (thanks to Sweetapolita)!

    Note: In Singapore, being “promoted” in student lingo means that you’ve performed sufficiently well in year-end exams and are allowed to progress to the next academic year. It seems like a rather adult way of describing things, but then given the amount of stress that Singapore students are under, perhaps it’s quite appropriate!