Today I’m going to preach to you. But I’ll keep is short, OK?
It’s about sugar. Wa-aaay too much sugar.
I confess, I never understood what’s the point in eating sugar as is. It might be called a “glaze” or a “syrup” or… whatever, but the bottom line is: it is pure sugar that people are eating. Why? It doesn’t really taste good, it’s just sweet, nothing interesting about that, and for sure, it doesn’t do any good to our bodies. So why, why, why do so many bakeries insist on drenching and drowning their baked good in cups and layers of sugar?
I can’t stand sugar glazed pasties. There, I’ve said it.
I had a little exercise lately. I’ve been cutting the amounts of sugar in baking recipes. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. On the contrary, good things happened.
I won’t name names but with some chefs/cooks/cookbooks I learned that I can automatically omit 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar from the baking recipes and the cake will still rise and all. For example, last week I made lemon bars. The recipe called for 3 cups of sugar but I used 2 1/2 cups instead and it turned out great—sweet just right.
A few weeks ago I looked for a yogurt cake recipe. You know how a container of yogurt can be pushed to the end of the refrigerator’s shelf and be forgotten only to be discovered one day before its expiration date? So I needed a yogurt cake recipe.
I found recipes in 2 very popular cookbooks—I won’t name names, but keep an eye open when you bump into a recipe named Lemon yogurt cake or French-style yogurt cake. The recipes were 90% identical.
I’ve decided to go with the one that uses more yogurt (1 cup compared to 1/2 cup). Both recipes use a lot of sugar: 2 1/4 cups of sugar in one and 2 1/3 cups of sugar in the other. Now, let me break it down for you:
2 1/4 cups = 36 tablespoons of sugar.
For a cake that serves 8-10 people, that’s 3.6 to 4.5* tablespoons of sugar per slice/per person!!
* If you need more visualization, 4 tablespoon = 1/4 cup. Could you eat 1/4 cup of sugar if it was not hidden in a slice cake?
I was horrified only by the thought of it so I decided to skip the sugar glaze and the sugar syrup altogether and see how the cakes turns out. Instead I used only 3/4 cup sugar total in the cake’s batter, and, what do you know… it turned out perfect!
That’s a total of 12 tablespoons for the whole cake. That’s only 1 to 1.2 tablespoons of sugar per slice/person.
I also used oranges instead of lemons for 2 reasons: 1. it looks like lemons are way more expensive than oranges, and 2. oranges are less acidic and sweeter than lemons so I could use much, much less sugar (but regardless, I think it’s better to add other ingredients to balance a lemon’s sour taste than sugar like herbs (Thyme, rosemary, for example), or honey (more natural and rounded).
I also used a thick yogurt, Greek style which has less fluid and the cake was moist.
This cake is so easy to make, you just mix the ingredients, no mixer needed, and it tastes divine!—minus the 1 1/4 extra cups sugar—delicately tangy, so fresh, with a wonderful, light crumb.
Citrus yogurt cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup thick, Greek-style yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
2 small oranges/lemons, juiced* and zested
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk the oil into the batter, until it’s all incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While the cake is still warm, pour the orange juice over the cake and allow it to soak in. Let cool before unmolding and slicing.
* NOTE: This is optional. Pour the freshly squeezed 1/4 cup fresh orange juice over the baked, cooling, cake, or drink it for your pleasure.