My son's birthday is on winter solstice, and it's hard for me to believe that he is already five. Among the many remarkable implications of this statistic is that his sister is nine and a half and quite capable of baking him a birthday cake. Although her preference would be for chocolate, her brother requested a white cake. I suggested that she try a gateau au yaourt, which is apparently a recipe that all French children master at an early age. In fact, you can measure out all the ingredients in individual yogurt containers. Since we buy big tubs of Nancy's yogurt, my daughter used regular measuring cups, and not being too strict about European traditions, Swedish horse cake pans.
During baking, the batter spilled out a little from the pans, but just enough for the baker to sample her work before the official celebration.
When the time arrived, we dressed up the little cake as an elaborate zebra with a whipped cream coat and raspberry stripes. My son was delighted to have a cake baked by his big sister and devoured the whole thing. My daughter was proud of her baking accomplishment and vowed to stop calling her brother "baby" (unless he does something especially annoying).
Gâteau au Yaourt
from Chocolate and Zucchini
1 cup sugar (2 yogurt containers)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (bit less than 1 yogurt container)
2 cups all-purpose flour (4 yogurt containers)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a good pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F, grease a round 10-inch cake pan or equivalent.
2. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and blend together without overworking the batter.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean (the little horse cake was done after 20 minutes). Let stand for ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.