Here we are, internet people… or should I just say people at this point, since basically everyone lives in the internet these days?
Anyhoo, here we are. The dawn of my latest randomly selected project: The Great British Blog Off. Last week, I wrote a little bit about what inspired the project. You can find that context here, if you’re interested.
Each week, my plan is to write a little bit about how I’m feeling going into the bake before tackling it, then recap how the actual experience was. Anyone else a little wary of the word “plan” in 2020? Yeah, we’ll see how the structure evolves over time.
This week’s recipe: Greek Lemon-Yoghurt Loaf Cake
Considering the fact that I am generally averse to lemon in any kind of dessert, I have been ridiculously excited about this recipe all week. Not more than once, I wondered if I could maybe just go ahead and squeeze the bake in on a weeknight because there are few things ya girl loves more than Day 1 of a fresh undertaking.
I made myself wait because part of the goal with this is to give my weekends a bit more in terms of plans to look forward to. In the absence of being able to make in-person plans with friends, my weekends have become a bit of a blur of me just kind of blobbing around on the couch. Which, don’t get me wrong, can be fun. But it’s also nice to have something to write in my planner and eagerly await during the weekdays.
So, the bakes are for weekends, at least most of the time.
My initial blog post about this project inspired a lot of unexpected comments from local friends about swapping bakes, and about baking in general, which is a contributing factor in just how ready I am to get this show on the road. It hadn’t occurred to me I could do things like trade bakes on porch stoops and talk to people about baking, for some reason?
This week I also got to sit down (at Andy’s suggestion) and write out a list of the baking items I don’t currently have and need to acquire in order to make everything in this cookbook. A decent amount of Googling the American translations of various terms ensued, not to mention repeatedly asking Andy to translate centimeters to inches for me instead of just Googling that, too.
Luckily, this week’s bake and next only require a trusty loaf pan and cooling rack, which I’ve had for quite some time!
While there are certainly recipes in this book I’m nervous about, I felt relatively confident I could manage a cake loaf.
True to expectations, the recipe was not particularly complicated. I did a quick last minute double-check Google of a few terms to make sure I was using the right sugars and flours, gathered up the ingredients, and pulled out my trusty food scale to measure them.
A few things were new to me in this bake. One, being generally lemon-in-baked-goods averse, I’ve never actually zested a lemon.
Secondly, I’ve never cut parchment paper down to fit a loaf pan before, and I have to say it 100% did make it easier to pull the loaf out at the end.
We have the world’s smallest sifter, which I quickly realized is an issue I need to remedy for future recipes. I halfheartedly kind of mostly sifted the flour and ground almonds in with the lemon zest before turning to the wet ingredients.
If you’ve never whisked together eggs and Greek yogurt before, I’ve got to say it’s quite an interesting experience (read: it does not look appealing). Once I added the lemon, though, it was a fascinating shade of yellow that got dumped into the dry ingredients to create a batter that look, well, pretty much like you’d expect. Yellow and cake like.
The cake loaf went into the oven, and I licked the spoon to see how it tasted. Friends, it was delicious. I immediately realized I was not going to hate the loaf and got more excited.
With 55 minutes of bake time to go, I had a cup of tea and did a mock interview with Andy wherein he asked me whether it was wise to use almonds in the batter, a la Paul Hollywood.
My biggest misstep came where I expected it to–with the glaze. The wet ingredients got weighed in milliliters for the loaf, and I forgot to change the food scale back to grams before weighing the powdered sugar. A fact I realized only after I had tipped the last of my Greek yogurt into the sugar and stirred aimlessly for a while. This thick goop surely could not be right–and that’s when I realized what I’d done.
Not to be deterred, I grabbed some coconut milk from the fridge and thinned the glaze out that way. The cookbook helpfully instructed me that the glaze should be the consistency of “double cream.” You know, that thing we Americans definitely understand the consistency of.
A quick Google suggested the American equivalent is heavy whipping cream, which I happened to have in the fridge on account of it being Thanksgiving in the states next week. I gave the carton a shake and decided this somehow would tell me the consistency, for some reason.
The loaf came out of the oven a nice golden brown and popped right on out of the loaf pan thanks to the parchment paper strip. Then I realized I was supposed to leave it in the pan to “firm up” for five minutes, so I plopped it back in there and set a timer.
At 5 minutes, the glaze got drizzled over the loaf. And mostly melted off onto the waiting parchment paper, which is when I realized I’d overdone the whole thinning out with coconut milk thing. Not to be defeated by glaze, I scooped it back from the parchment paper and spooned it overtop the slightly cooler loaf, resulting in something of a decent glaze.
One Yoga with Adriene session later, we at last got to slice and taste my messy, less than perfect loaf.
Reader, it was delicious. My antipathy to lemon in pastry is indeed put to rest after a long history of animosity, and I’ll be willing to try intentionally lemon-flavored desserts in future.
Our oven runs a little hot, so it could’ve perhaps stood to come out of the oven a few minutes sooner than the shortest bake time listed–something I’ll remember for next time.
Overall, I think the first bake went pretty well! I generally consider recipes a success if the result is edible, and we’re a step above that at downright delicious. Looking forward to next week’s recipe and finding out whether I can get past not liking mango, as well.