the dangers of cake baking

Sometimes baking a cake is a very dangerous undertaking. I am not talking about physical dangers like burning the roof of your mouth because you are too impatient to let the cake cool, or getting a tummy-ache from eating too much raw batter. I am talking about how baking a cake can sometimes endanger any manners or self-control that you may have.

An example of when baking a cake becomes dangerous is something that I first experienced a few months ago. I had a small class meeting and I thought that it would be kind to bake something for us to munch on while discussing important deadlines and font sizes. I baked a rhubarb and hazelnut loaf. It had a lemon and oat topping. It had buttermilk. I baked it and after nibbling on some of its crumbs I cut off a piece. Then I cut off another piece. Yet another piece founds its way to my mouth and soon it became clear that this cake was not going to make it to any class meeting (my apologies to any classmates who may be reading this, but I promise that you would have succumbed to the same fresh-out-of-the-oven-rhubarb-bliss that I did).

I had a similar reaction to a lemon and yogurt cake I baked this week. It was glazed with lemon icing and chopped pistachios. It tasted as good as it looked. Once it had cooled and was seductively dressed in icing, I started to eat it. It was the last thing I ate that night before I went to bed and eating what remained of it was the first thing I did the next morning. I forgot about taking a shower or making a cup of coffee; as soon as I woke up I went straight for the cake.

I would suggest you make this cake for a dinner party as a way of resisting the urge to eat the whole thing alone in a single sitting. But then again - just like that rhubarb and hazelnut loaf - it is rather unlikely that a cake this good would survive the time between coming out of the oven and arriving at the dinner party.

Yogurt Cake with Lemon

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg's 'A Homemade Life'



1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
the zest of one organic lemon
1 cup yogurt
pinch of ground vanilla bean
1 cup unrefined sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil


juice of half a lemon
icing sugar to taste


1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

a generous handful of shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a loaf pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper and then grease the parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla in one bowl. Add the lemon zest and mix well. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and yogurt. Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the olive oil and keep stirring until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice and icing sugar for the glaze. Make the glaze as sweet or as sour as you wish.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully place the cake on a cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper below the rack. Spoon the glaze over the cake and then allow the cake to cool completely.

While the caking is cooling, roughly chop the pistachios. In a small bowl mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice. One the cake has cooled completely, ice the cake and top with the pistachios.


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