Sunday, April 19, 2009

French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I have determined that writing about food successfully is something like shopping for groceries on an empty stomach-you'll always end up buying more than you need, or splurging on something excessively delicious and expensive, like dark chocolate-covered pistachio toffee. If you shop after you've eaten, you'll probably stick to the items on your list, maybe even forgetting a few of them just because they don't seem that appetizing anyway. The same applies to writing about food-if I've just put away an entire mess of garlicky greens (in this case, broccoli rabe), tossed with orecchiette and sprinkled generously with ricotta salata, I'm going to struggle to compose an adequate entry about the very dish I've just enjoyed. I'm simply too full!

However, as I'm swilling my new favorite drink of a boiling hot evening, ice cold Fresca mixed with freshly-squeezed orange juice, I feel that tonight is the perfect night for writing about the heavenly french-style yogurt cake with lemon that I made for our Easter festivities last weekend. I had the most wonderful opportunity to meet Molly Wizenberg, aka Orangette, and the recipe's fabulous creator, in person yesterday at a book signing in San Francisco, so it seems only right, and fitting, that I should preserve that fond memory by writing about the cake.

I've made a similar cake once before, courtesy of Ina Garten, but I have to admit to preferring Molly's version. I took her advice (from her book's version of the recipe), using my own Meyer lemons in place of conventional lemons, and the results were nothing short of fantastic, despite the fact that I had to improvise with my springform pans, as I don't even own cake pans! On a side note, how did I not realize this?? What kind of home cook am I??

The icing was startlingly sweet, almost akin to a more subdued version of Pez candy, but it melded with the cake perfectly, creating a shiny topping that crackled in a most satisfying way when I sliced into it for serving, revealing a creamy white, thick cake that was lightly studded with hints of lemon zest. It was the Meyer lemons, I think, with their spicy whiff of orange, that contributed to the extreme taste of the icing, but truth be told, I can't complain. I took more than one dip into the mixing bowl to "test" the flavor.

It was a tremendous success at our Easter lunch, but the best part was being able to sneak afternoon slices while I worked on my reading for the week. Life is good. Especially when you're eating this cake, as dappled sunlight sweeps into your living room, while immersed in the world of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.

*Molly Wizenberg was positively lovely, by the way. I am thrilled to have been able to meet her, and I can only hope that A Homemade Life is the first of many culinary offerings!

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