I’ve never been a fan of the typical white or chocolate celebration cake, though I do have fond memories of Dairy Queen Ice Cream cakes which I repeatedly requested for my birthday each year. I’d much rather have a slice of pie or everyday cake such as this raspberry ricotta one here, or my favorite tiramisu (this is an especially good one). However, if I am going to have a piece of more traditional cake, Ashley Rodriguez’s homemade Rainbow Chip Cake is a real gem and easily made gluten-free.
I think my love for more simple, rustic cakes and desserts stems from two things, a preference for taste and my long engrained history of perfectionism. There is a great amount of pressure in the world, especially nowadays with the excess of social media, to be the best at everything including the preparation of food. And this perfectionism doesn’t escape my own family. Most family dinners included some act or statement of inadequacy with the meal “the pork is slightly overcooked”, “the salmon is a little dry” or as my brother so perfectly modeled this past week as he stated that “the sea bass is a bit overdone”. And I am no exception, guilty myself of quickly eliminating two batches of frosted brownies originally destined for a work event because, honestly, how could the “food blogger” bring a batch of imperfect brownies to a party? Point made. We are inundated with an overwhelming number of expectations we can’t possibly meet.
This article on Food52, frequently referenced across the internet in recent weeks, tackles this issue straight on. There are a number of excellent quotes throughout this piece and I highly recommend reading the entire thing. But this particular statement exerted by the author really struck a cord with me: “The constant bombardment of ways to be a better cook is inspiring until it’s paralyzing, until the pressure of making each meal the best it can be gets tiresome—and starts to feel silly.” And some of the best food is often not a perfectly prepared or 4-star recipe, as the author goes on to exert later in the essay. I agree, most of my favorite meals are far from it. I fondly think back to a squished peanut butter sandwich consumed after a long hike or grandma’s baked breaded chicken pieces at the end of a long summer day at her house.
The beauty of this cake is that it doesn’t need to be perfectly frosted or molded into some beautiful end product; it isn’t suppose to be. It’s rustic. It sometimes sticks to the bottom of the pan and I have to eat it in spoonfuls (no objections here) or the strawberries aren’t uniformly distributed – it doesn’t matter, this cake is good. Or as my friend reported after making it for the first time for company a couple weeks ago, a guest exclaimed “That cake is like crack.” I am not sure it’s quite that good (and it doesn’t have to be the best, it just needs to serve it’s purpose). It’s light but moist and has a rich flavor from the yogurt with small pockets of jam from the cooked strawberries bursting throughout the cake. I made this recipe using gluten and dairy-free ingredients but feel free to substitute as desired and play around with it, since it doesn’t need to be perfect or anywhere near it.
French Yogurt Cake with Fresh Strawberries
Modified from Orangette
1/2 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 cup raw cane sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup canola oil
2 handfuls fresh strawberries, sliced or chopped
Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease a round pan with butter or cooking spray.
Combine the yogurt, sugar and eggs in a large bowl with a whisk. Add the flour, almond flour and baking powder, mixing just to combine. Add the oil, whisking until well blended. Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the strawberries over the batter. Then pour in the remaining batter to cover the strawberries.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. Serve in large slices with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream on the side or as my friend did, topped with blueberries and blackberries tossed with lemon and mint.