Jump to the Marble Cake with Oil Recipe
Oil. Yes, I know, I know, that just sounds… meh.
Why would I make a Marble Cake with Oil instead of butter you may ask? After all butter is delicious isn’t it. Throw in some flour and sugar and you are sure to have a winner. Well, in a nutshell I am a sucker for the nostalgic. My idea of what a good marble cake should be – tender and tea time easy – come from the many homemade marble cakes my aunt baked as a child. They always had a healthy marbling, were subtly sweet, but not overpowering and so very moist. It is the oil that was always used instead of butter in my childhood bakes that made them so tender.
Isn’t it funny how the forever recipes sometimes get ignored? The ones that you make for so long that they become the equivalent of boiled rice (but much tastier). This French Yogurt Cake is one of them. I first made it as a little girl and many times over since. The premise is simple, all the ingredients are in a fixed ratio measured by yogurt containers. After a lifetime of eating it I relegated it to the past when some years ago a friend (Hi Reshma!) reminded me about it. Like many recipes that handed down to me there were two versions of this one too. I prefer this one because it makes a more modest cake and one that I can actually fit in my rarely used bundt cake pan. Dust it with a little icing sugar, glaze with marmalade, or serve just as is. This French Yogurt Cake is a wonderful mid day pick me up or after school snack.
I am a little obsessed with this idea of a crunchy/contrasting topping on cakes. I am also a little obsessed with all things lemon – desserts like this Lemon Mousse-y creation or a generous squeeze at the end of Pakistani dishes like fish biryani. When I saw a recipe for a Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, a thoughtful gift from one of my three favourite brothers and his wife, I knew it had to be. The lemon crunch cake is easy to put together – you literally just dump all the ingredients in the bowl and mix till smooth. The fabulous crunch topping is as simple as lemon juice + sugar and it totally works!
I am not a big tea drinker; I don’t like admitting it, feeling that that sullies my South Asian-ness so to speak. But I love the idea of tea time. Not only is there a big culture of tea drinking there is also a big culture of ‘tea visiting’ so to speak. People will drop in at each others houses ‘for tea’, go visiting ‘for tea’. This usually means tea (duh), a savory pastry or samosa an everyday cake. When I go ‘for tea’ to other peoples houses I unabashedly chug the tea and thoroughly enjoy all that comes with it.
This Cream Cheese Pound cake reminds me of that tradition. It sweet, flavourful with an underlying tanginess, and gets even better the next day. When I am feeling extra indulgent I sprinkle it with some coarse sugar, but it is excellent as is. I suspect – that like other cakes of its ilk – it too freezes well, but I have never had the resolve to find out.
When my brother graduated from college in upstate New York my husband and I drove down to help him pack up and move out. My brother – a fellow foodie – took me to one of his favorite cafes and there I got a cornbread muffin unlike any I had before. Now I went to school in the South (y’know if you y’all consider Virginia to be the South) and I have had many a cornbread, the tender lightly sweetened kind that you would have with something savory like a pot of chilli. But this sweet little thing, now this was a revelation.
I have made many many many cornmeal based baked goods since, one in particular, i.e Dorie Greenspan’s corniest corn muffins were my personal favorite until a fellow blogger pointed me towards this Serious Eats recipe. I made it once and then I knew, this, this was it.
So without further ado, here you go, a sweet moist skillet cornbread that is made even more delicious with a slathering of honey butter with a small dash of sea salt. Bliss.