As I’m staring out brass portholes and smelling a hint of diesel fumes and holding tank, I imagine lavender scented breezes blowing through french lace curtains in the Provence countryside. I can even hear the warblers calling. The imagination is a wonderful thing. A friend of mine directed me to this recipe that was published in the Washington Post a while back. I’ve altered the parts that I thought seemed a little non-traditional, like adding clementine segments into the batter. And I use rose flower water and a richer olive oil. Be sure to glaze the cake with honey. And glaze again. And glaze again. The honey soaks into the cake and makes the day-old cake taste better than fresh-out-of-the-Force 10.
Mediterranean Yogurt Cake
1 tablespoon butter, for greasing the loaf pan
1 cup sugar
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup plain, low-fat or nonfat Greek-style yogurt
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water or rose flower water
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons honey, for glazing
Preheat your galley oven to 350º. Generously butter an 8″ loaf pan on the bottom and up the sides. You can probably use Crisco or even spray oil like Pam but I like to stay traditional with this recipe.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Grate the zest off two clementines.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the clementine zest, pressing against the zest to release the citrus oils.
In a separate large bowl mix together the eggs, yogurt and sugar mixture.
Add the vanilla extract and rose or orange flower water. Orange essence can also be used, but use half the amount.
Mix together then fold in the flour mixture.
Beat for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
Now comes the ingredient that makes this cake oh-so Mediterranean…adding a half a cup of olive oil. I like to use Extra Virgin so you can actually taste a hint of the oil in the finished cake. I think it gives the cake an added richness that sets it apart from a traditional American pound cake. Mix in well and you can see the shininess of the batter.
Pour batter into your greased loaf pan and place in your preheated oven for an hour. If your oven rack is low and close to the burner flame, place an insulated cookie sheet on the rack and the cake pan on top. That should help keep the bottom from burning in your not-so-perfect galley stove.
Bake to 50-60 minutes, until it’s browned on the edges and cracks on top. To be safe, stick a wooden skewer in and see if it comes out clean. When done, let rest for 5 minutes then invert onto a plate.
When the cake has cooled down but is still slightly warm, brush honey on with a pastry brush. You can continue this procedure over and over until you get a nice glaze. Wait 5 minutes between glazes so it has time to soak in.
Then slice and enjoy with a little coffee or tea in your cockpit and dream of the Côte D’Azur….and hopefully some of you readers are already there!