[A]: The attraction of baking cakes, for me, is the chance I get to experiment – just the same way as Chemistry was attractive as a subject all those years ago! Granted that the results are not that explosive, literally, but it is still a lot of fun.
The experimentation has taught me to differentiate a bread from a cake and to find loafs that are truly in between. One single factor that differentiates a cake from a bread is the softness of the core. With a white flour and baking powder mix it is not always easy to get a consistent result. So I prefer the self-raising flour for most of my baking now. But I still do not manage to always get a very soft and luxurious core that would give a very rich feel to my cakes without being too heavy. So here is my strive for a moist core with the magic ingredient being Greek-style yoghurt.
For the cake:
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 & 1/4 cups of self-raising white flour plus 1 tsp for dusting the blueberries
225 gm unsalted butter (roughly 1 cup) plus a little for lining the bundt cake pan
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar if you want a dark colour in your cake, otherwise light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup thick Greek-style yoghurt
1/4 cup lemon juice (i.e. juice from 2 lemons)
3 tbsp lemon zest (i.e. zest from 2 lemons)
For the icing:
Fresh juice from 1 lemon
175 gm (maximum) icing sugar
It is best to extract the lemon zest followed by the lemon juice first. It is easier for me to remember the ingredients if I keep in mind the reason behind adding each. That is the reason why I mix the complementary ingredients together first and keep them ready.
I mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice and stir to thin the thick yoghurt and set the mix aside.
Next I beat the eggs with the vanilla extract remembering that the purpose of the vanilla extract is to reduce the smell of the eggs in the cake.
I use a knob of butter to line the inside of the bundt cake pan knowing that this provides an extra layer over the non-stick surface and helps to easily take the cake out.
I dust the fresh blueberries with dry skin and at room temperature with a little white flour. This helps to keep the blueberries separate inside the cake mix. Otherwise they cling together and do not distribute evenly in the cake.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Now I start with a sufficiently large mixing bowl – large enough to take all the ingredients in. First mix the butter and two different types of sugar together. Remember to bring the butter to room temperature before starting. Once thoroughly mixed, this should be thick but uniform.
Next bring in the vanilla flavoured egg mix in three instalments while continuously mixing. At the end of this stage the mixture should be light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and continue mixing.
Once a uniform light, fluffy mixture is achieved, start alternately adding the flour and yoghurt-lemon mix in about 3-4 batches. The purpose of adding in batches is to ensure that the final mixture is uniform. At the end of this stage the mixture should be easy flowing but not runny. It should be soft enough to transfer easily to the bundt pan.
Finally bring in the blueberries and fold into the mix so that they are evenly distributed.
Pour the dough into the butter-lined bundt pan and bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes.
Once completely baked, take the pan out of the oven and let it cool outside for 10 minutes. Turn the pan over on a wire rack and it should easily slide out of the pan. Leave on the wire rack for at least another 10 minutes for the cake to cool down and the base harden.
To prepare the icing, start with the juice of one lemon and gradually add the icing sugar while stirring vigorously. Ensure there are no lumps and use as much sugar as necessary to get the type of icing you desire.
I have used two different types of icing in the cakes in the photographs. The first two images have a thick icing which doesn’t flow that well but provides a thick cover. The last two images have a thin transparent icing which flows very well and gives a glazed glass effect on the cake surface.
While the cake surface is still slightly warm to touch, apply the icing on the top using the back of a spoon and let some of it flow down the surface. The icing should solidify and settle down as the cake cools down to room temperature.
The blueberry and lemon in the cake gives it quite a tangy taste. I would say this appeals more to adult taste buds than children’s. It goes well with either coffee or tea.