Lemon Yogurt Olive Oil Cake

This is a really plain-looking cake, but as far as taste goes, it’s truly outstanding. I saw this recipe on Serious Eats, and was positively enthralled by the idea of adding olive oil into a lemon pound-esque cake. Those flavors sound very Mediterranean to me, and I also had a tub of Greek yogurt sitting in my fridge. Why the heck not?

And I’m exceptionally pleased with how this cake turned out. I used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of regular plain yogurt, and that might have contributed to the slightly coarser texture of the cake but I have absolutely no problems with how it tasted. The olive oil wasn’t exceptionally pronounced, and you wouldn’t be able to discern it if I didn’t tell you there was some. I truly love how this cake is startlingly good in its simplicity, and the technique required is almost idiot-proof too. Highly recommended.

Lemon Yogurt Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from Serious Eats
Makes one 9×5 loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup EVO (extra-virgin olive oil)

Procedures

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep near by.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the ingredients together until the sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the yogurt, eggs and vanilla. When the mixture is well blended, gently whisk in the dry ingredients. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil. The batter will be thick and shiny. Scrape it into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and starts to come away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.

Storing: You can keep the cake at room temperature for at least 4 days or freeze it for up to 2 months

Yogurt Bran Muffins

Here I have a very basic, but very tasty yogurt bran muffins that are a snap to make. I had some Greek yogurt and I decided to make something yogurt-based. As they were baking, they smelled wonderful, the cinnamon scent really came through. The muffins fresh out of the oven had a really good texture; moist with a crackly crust. I recommend greasing the muffin pan instead of using paper liners to maximize full crustiness. I used white whole wheat flour for added healthiness, and personally would reduce the oil to 1/3 cup because I don’t like being able to smell vegetable oil in my food.

These muffins are also 169 calories each for 12 muffins. Not a crazy amount; and in my experience a higher caloric proportion of fat tends to make food more filling.

Cinnamon Bran Muffins with Yogurt
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 12 muffins (or 10 large ones)

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used regular granulated)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt (I used 0% Greek yogurt)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

Mix egg, brown sugar and oil together in a mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla and bran.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with yogurt — don’t over-mix. Fill muffin cups and bake on center rack for 25-30 minutes. (My 12 muffins took 20 minutes.)

Yogurt and Sun Dried Tomato Biscuits


These biscuits were a haphazard post-work creation; I was really itching to make something, and since biscuits are as instant gratification as you could get when it comes to baking, I made some. They were decent warm from the oven but got a little dry as it sat out. I did use the minimum amount of fat needed and I also used olive oil instead of butter for an extra Italian twist. However, reheating made them better; and I’m sure dabbing some butter in a halved biscuit would be quite delicious.


Yogurt and Sun Dried Tomato Biscuits

Adapted from Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Makes 7-8

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoons olive oil
3/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon yogurt
3-4 pieces of sun dried tomatoes, chopped roughly

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together, then add oil. Stir in sun dried tomatoes.

Using a large spoon, stir in the yogurt until mixture just forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 times; no more. If it is sticky, add a little flour, but very little; it should still stick slightly to your hands.

Press the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle and cut into 2-inch rounds. Put on ungreased baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again. Bake for 7 – 9 minutes or until the biscuits are a beautiful golden brown. Serve within 15 minutes for them to be at their best.

Lime Pull-Apart Bread with Lime-Yogurt Icing

One of my favorite things to do when I have an entire day to myself is taking on a laborious recipe. Like bread-making. Especially this pull-apart bread. It’s got three different components – the yeast dough, the lime-sugar filling and the frosting and definitely requires quite a bit of hands-on work. However, the end-result was so yummy and good-looking that every slice I peeled off felt like a job well-done.

Pull-apart breads are so fun to eat. Every layer beheld a new punch of citrusy, limey sugary goodness combined with the soft fluffiness of the sweet bread. I did have to improvise quite a bit in order to create this loaf. Firstly, I only had unsweetened soy milk on hand, so I substituted that for regular milk. Fortunately, it didn’t impart any distinct soy flavor to the loaf. Secondly, I didn’t have lemons around, so I omitted the lemon zest for the sugar filling and used as much lime zest my three limes would yield. Thirdly, I didn’t have cream cheese for the frosting, and figured that Greek yogurt would work fine – and also a lot less calorific. I also had 1/4 cup of lime juice sitting around that I wanted to incorporate into the loaf somehow, so I brushed it with the melted butter onto the layers of the loaf. It might’ve made my bread a little bit soggier than it would have, but I can’t be sure since I didn’t make it without the lime juice. However, it definitely prevented the bread from drying out in the second rise and while it was baking. Oh yeah, I also didn’t have a rolling pin to roll out the layers – but a wine bottle works fantastic.

If you’ve read enough of this blog, you’ll notice that I don’t post up a lot of in-progress photos. It strikes me as uncanny that so many food bloggers do so. I usually get my hands pretty dirty in the process of baking, and having to wash my hands every so often to snap a couple of pictures would be quite cumbersome. However, this picture of the granulated sugar and lime zest was too pretty to pass up.

Lime Pull-Apart Bread with Lime-Yogurt Icing
Adapted from Un Gamine dans la Cuisine
Makes one 9 x 5 loaf

Sweet yeast dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk (I used soy milk)
2 ounces unsalted butter (4 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lime paste filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (5-8 limes)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons) (I omitted)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup lime juice (this was my own addition)

Tangy yogurt icing – for the original cream cheese icing, click to the original recipe link)
6 tbsps Greek yogurt
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar (I used granulated sugar, it turned out fine)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Mix two cups (nine ounces) flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm 120 to 130°F. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk and melted butter into the flour and mix with a rubber spatula until the flour is evenly moistened. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work with. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.

Meanwhile, make the lime sugar filling. Mix the sugar, lime zest, and lemon zest. It’ll draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. *Be sure to flour the dough slightly. This will make it much easier to work with.* (If using lime juice, mix it with melted butter.) Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.

Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay. While dough is rising, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. *Mine took about 5 minutes longer. I made a foil tent to keep the crust from getting too brown.* Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt icing. Beat the yogurt and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the lime juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

Carefully tilt and rotate the pan while tapping on a table to release the loaf. I simply ran a knife along the edges and it came out perfectly. Using a brush, cover the surface of the loaf with the cream cheese icing. Allow the icing to seep into the cracks and holes.

Enjoy this cake while it’s still slightly warm or at room temperature.

Notes: If you’re using the yogurt icing, I recommend applying it just before eating, or use it as a dip to thoroughly coat each piece. The yogurt icing is more liquid that the cream cheese icing, and would make your loaf soggy if left to soak.

Greek Yogurt Key Lime Pie

I’m so pleased that I found a key lime pie recipe that doesn’t involve excessive amounts of condensed milk. In fact, this one is primarily made out of Greek yogurt, a protein-packed powerhouse. I had a tub of Greek yogurt sitting in the fridge, and as I perused the weekly circulars, I saw that limes were going on sale at 5 for $1. (This is how I generally decide what to make. a) what I have in the pantry; b) what I can buy cheaply.) I put two and two together, and brainwave – I shall make a key lime pie! I did some digging around, and found this recipe from Obama Foodorama, a blog dedicated to the food initiatives of the White House. No surprises that they found a way to make a healthier key lime pie!

I didn’t actually use key limes, but regular limes worked fantastic too. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the recipe. A lot of key lime pies require some kind of artificial or unhealthful ingredient, like gelatin, sweetened condensed milk or key lime-flavored yogurt – but the stiffer texture of Greek yogurt was sufficient to hold the filling together. I also invented a crust made out of an unconventional ingredient – not graham crackers, but bran flakes. I know, bran flakes in your pie crust might sound a little suspect, but with the addition of butter and sugar and a quick bake in the oven, it came out caramelized with a nice toothsome chew. You’re not going to mistake it for a graham cracker crust, but it held its own against the smooth tangy creaminess of the pie filling.

Try this recipe. You won’t regret it. (And at 139 calories for 1/12th of a 9-inch pie, you can have your pie and eat it too!)

Greek Yogurt Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Obama Foodorama
Makes 1 9-inch pie

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups bran flakes crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups Greek yogurt
4 large egg yolks
½ cup key lime juice or regular lime juice, fresh-squeezed if possible
2 Tablespoons honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Method
For the Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Stir bran flakes crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl until combined. Then press mixture evenly into bottom and up the sides of a 9″ pie plate.

3. Bake crust 10 minutes, then remove from oven to cool.

For the Filling:
1. Whisk together yogurt, egg yolks, honey, and sugar; add juice and whisk until well combined.

2. Pour filling into crust, and bake for 20 minutes in 350°F oven (mixture will not be firm).

3. Cool and refrigerate overnight. (I highly recommend waiting overnight; it still tastes good if you wait only 4 hours but slices are not going to hold up.)

Strawberry Toast + Oatnut Bread

It’s summertime, and berries are at their peak. Sweet, succulent and juicy, strawberries are a fantastic way to cool you down and satisfy your sweet tooth. I was grocery shopping, and I was lured by the strong scent of the strawberries. Nothing beats the smell of ripe strawberries; which incidentally, taste nothing like strawberry-flavored candy. Growing up, berries weren’t something I ate with any frequency because they don’t do well in tropical Singapore. I was probably quite surprised when I had my first strawberry, wincing at its tartness and its complete departure from strawberry-flavored things.

I came up with the idea for this meal by cobbling together what I had in my fridge: strawberries that needed to be eaten, a large tub of Greek yogurt, and oatnut bread that I made a couple of days ago. You could use whipped cream cheese or whipped cream on your toast, but Greek yogurt offers the same creaminess and tang with much less fat and a lot more protein. This dish is basically a healthier version of the strawberry shortcake.

This bread was made with white whole wheat flour, oats, and walnuts. It’s a firm and hearty loaf that will stand up to spreads and drippy fillings, so it would be good for a sandwich. The original recipe called said vital wheat gluten was optional, but I didn’t have it. Whole wheat flour can be a little tricky in yeast breads, but don’t be discouraged. It might not taste or feel like the soft, fluffy prepackaged loaves you get in the supermarket, but it also doesn’t have a ton of unpronounceable additives.


Strawberry Toast

Makes a slice

1 slice of bread
2 strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp of Greek yogurt

Toast bread, if desired. Spread Greek yogurt on bread. Layer strawberries. Eat!

Oatnut White Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes 1 9×5 loaf

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110F), divided
3-4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats (whole rolled oats, chopped)
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the yeast (about 1/4 oz.) and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
Stir in remaining water, 1 cup of flour, the oats, vital wheat gluten (if using) and honey, and mix well. Add in salt, pecans and an additional 1 1/2 – 2 cups flour. Stir, adding remaining flour gradually, until the dough comes together into a ball a begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (this can also be done in an electric mixer with the dough hook attached).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead, adding flour a tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
After dough has risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface again. Gently deflate dough into a rectangular shape. Fold up the two long sides of the rectangle and pinch the seam together. Place seam-side down into prepared loaf pan. Again cover the bread with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
While the bread is going through its final rise, preheat oven to 375F.
Bake loaf for 35 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom reads about 200F.
Cool loaf outside of pan on a wire rack completely before slicing.

Notes: I ended up using about 2.5 cups of flour total.

Pandan Cupcakes with Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting

For some reason, I have been craving a taste of home lately. I tried my best with my version of comfort food: century egg porridge. But I wanted something sweet. I wanted something that tastes like home but with my own unique twist. And thus I present, a fusion of East meets West: pandan cupcakes with kaya whipped cream frosting. The English word for pandan is screwpine. I only found out about that recently, actually. Kaya is a coconut and egg jam that is typically flavored with either pandan or gula melaka, i.e. palm sugar.

I googled “pandan cupcakes”, and found a recipe that included yogurt. I had a bucket of it sitting in my fridge, which I thought would substitute for chocolate pudding if I added cocoa powder and sweetener in it, but that didn’t work out quite so well. I don’t really like yogurt by itself – it’s usually too sweet, or too sour – and it just feels very gloopy in the mouth. I won’t say no to froyo, though.

The cupcakes had a nice brown rim on the edge of the cupcake, and it really provided a nice textural contrast to the cupcake. I’m not extremely fond of the texture itself. The recipe called for cake flour, but I only had all-purpose flour so I used that instead. Perhaps that created a less tender crumb.

The cupcake had a texture not unlike like fa gao. It was slightly rubbery, I thought. That’s not a good thing though. I cored the cupcakes and added a small amount of kaya in it, just for a nice little hit of kaya, but the kaya I got was very mediocre. I wouldn’t want anymore in my cupcake. The brand of the kaya is Yeo’s. It was the only brand available – I didn’t have a choice! Maybe I could try my hand at homemade kaya some day… some day.

Pandan Cupcakes with Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting
Adapted from My Kitchen:My Laboratory
Makes 7 cupcakes

3/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose, you’d be fine if you did too but cake flour would yield a more tender crumb)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
1/2 tsp pandan paste
7 teaspoons of kaya, approximately

Line 7 cupcake tins; and preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix yogurt and pandan paste; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl till light and fluffy. Add egg and mix till incorporated. Add 1/3 portion of flour mixture to butter mixture. Add 1/2 of yogurt mixture to butter mixture. Add another 1/3 of flour to butter mixture. Add remaining yogurt mixture to butter mixture. Add remaining flour to butter mixture.

Divide into 7 cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes, turning from front to back midway. Cool in pan for 7 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

When completely cool, core cupcakes. I used a narrow knife and cut a pyramid-shaped piece out in the middle. Fill holes with kaya. Do not overfill.

Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting
Makes enough to frost 7 cupcakes, and then some to lick from the bowl

1/2 cup heavy cream, well chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons kaya (or to taste)

Add sugar to heavy cream. Beat till soft peaks form. Fold in kaya. Frost on completely cool cupcakes.