IMG_1069
There are plenty of occasions that call for cake. Birthdays, natch. Baby showers; certainly. Weddings- absolutely. But then there’s a different kind of cake. It’s an everyday cake. If that’s what’s missing from your life- an indestructible, easily adaptable, swiftly assembled with children-or-the-quickly-bored-by cooking, then I think I can help. It’s a simple version of the classic French yoghurt gateau, which lore tells us every French bebe can make blindfolded by aged seven. I may never be able to pull of a beret, but this? This I’ve got. On its own it is a rib sticking, lovely blank canvass of a cake. In decorating terms, it’s classic white kitchen, which you’ll jazz up with your choice of pendant lights and counter stools. It’s a pair of jeans, a breton striped top and ballet flats that you can pimp with beads or a bag. It’s something that will serve you well, everyday.
 
If you’re hungry for the recipe, skip to the bottom. If you have the patience for context, read on.
 
I am itching for a kitchen at the moment. It has been longer than Sinead O’Connor’s forlorn seven hours and fifteen days since mine had a run in with sledgehammers. In its space are raw beams, drop saws, naked floors and a thin, constant film of dust which makes me sneeze. Every day since, when we walk into the orange sheeted, partitioned lounge room out Will claps his hands to his face and says ‘Oh no!’ He’s like a traumatised gold fish. What will eventually come, will be magic. But in the meantime, I miss my oven.
 
I miss making biscuits. I miss lobbing in a tray of root vegetables and whole garlic cloves in on a Monday night to caramellise before tumbling them together with quinoa for a rustic salad for dinner.  I’m a little sick of eating soup from my Thermomix (oh, now there’s a #firstworldproblem if ever there was one).
 
For the last few weeks from Wednesday to Saturday Will and I have been packing up and shuttling down to my mother’s place in Berry. It gives him time to commune with her tiny horse, Pancake and say hi to some cows.
 
It gives him a safe space to run and roam, without me yelling ‘Please don’t touch the drop saw!’ And it means I get to use her oven.
 
IMG_0899The first time we made this cake we crowned it with finely sliced peeled Pink Lady apples and studded it with frozen blackberries. It was cheerful and substantial, all at the same time.
 
IMG_0908
 
The most recent times we’ve added a small dice of apple and berries throughout the body of the cake too. It increases the baking time (by upping the moisture levels), but makes for a lovely interior contrast.
 
The beauty of this cake is how simple it is to make. It’s a simple muddle and mix of wet and dry, with minimal washing up and faff. I’ve long been partial to apple in my afternoon tea cakes, but there’s nothing to say that sliced peaches, pears, or other stone fruits wouldn’t make delightful additions.
 
IMG_1039
As for the core ingredients, if you just want cake without any earnest health conscious hand ringing, then you can make this with plain flour, caster sugar and vegetable oil. If you’re feeling a little more conservative, wholemeal or spelt flour will work, as will a sugar alternative like coconut sugar or unrefined sugar. Similarly, the fat can be mild olive oil, rapeseed oil, melted coconut oil or melted butter (though the coconut oil will give you a slightly different flavour).
 
The only real trick in the presentation is submerging half of the the slices of apple in the batter and allowing the cake to swell up around them as they bake. This provides a lovely wafting appearance, somewhat reminiscent of sunflowers and a novel textural contrast of half bronzed, half pliant slices of fruit.
 
Serve it with a cup of tea while you dither about what rangehood to put in your prospective kitchen. Serve it with an espresso while you try not to laugh at a toddler who has become obsessed with rolling his jeans up precisely 3/4 of the way down his calves while tramping about through paddocks.  Serve it with a splodge of yoghurt or creme fraiche on the side while you count down the days until you and your beloved oven are united once more.
 
IMG_1060 Berry Apple Yogurt Cake
 
IMG_1069
serves 8 -10

1 1/2 cups full-fat yogurt
2/3 cup mild olive oil or oil of your choice
150 grams sugar or sweetener of your choice
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
300 g plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into slivers, or 2 medium
12 strawberries, sliced or other berries

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F and grease a 22 cm springform pan and then line it with baking paper.

2) Whisk together the yoghurt, oil, sugar, eggs and lemon zest.

3) Gently fold in the flour, baking powder 1/4 of the diced apple and a handful of the berries

4) Pour the batter into the pan. Arrange the remaining fruit on the top of the cake. Bake for 1 hour, covering with baking paper if the top gets too bronzed. The cake is done when a skewer comes out clean. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.