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Yogurt Pot Cake

by . Featured in NIGELLISSIMA
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Introduction

If there’s a family in Italy that doesn’t have a recipe for yogurt pot cake, then I’ve yet to meet them. And I love this plain cake with perhaps disproportionate intensity. There is something so quintessentially Italian about its scent – as it bakes, I think I’m in a kitchen in Italy – and its taste – that combination of lemon and vanilla – and even the old-fashioned charm of its method.

This is it: your yogurt pot is your unit of measurement. And even though I saw from the original recipe that I copied down (from some scrawled piece of paper in the kitchen of a house I’d rented one summer), that the specified yogurt pot had a 125ml capacity, I have kept the same number of eggs for my 150ml yogurt pot. I work on the principle that eggs these days are larger than when the cake first came into being. Anyway, it works, and that’s the main thing. And this is the way it works: for 1 cake, you need 1 pot of yogurt, 2 pots of sugar, 1 pot of oil, 1 pot of potato starch or cornflour and 2 pots of flour. In keeping with this style of measuring, you will see that I have even stipulated 2 capfuls of vanilla extract.

If there’s a family in Italy that doesn’t have a recipe for yogurt pot cake, then I’ve yet to meet them. And I love this plain cake with perhaps disproportionate intensity. There is something so quintessentially Italian about its scent – as it bakes, I think I’m in a kitchen in Italy – and its taste – that combination of lemon and vanilla – and even the old-fashioned charm of its method.

This is it: your yogurt pot is your unit of measurement. And even though I saw from the original recipe that I copied down (from some scrawled piece of paper in the kitchen of a house I’d rented one summer), that the specified yogurt pot had a 125ml capacity, I have kept the same number of eggs for my 150ml yogurt pot. I work on the principle that eggs these days are larger than when the cake first came into being. Anyway, it works, and that’s the main thing. And this is the way it works: for 1 cake, you need 1 pot of yogurt, 2 pots of sugar, 1 pot of oil, 1 pot of potato starch or cornflour and 2 pots of flour. In keeping with this style of measuring, you will see that I have even stipulated 2 capfuls of vanilla extract.

Yogurt Pot Cake
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Makes: 16 slices

Metric Cups
  • 150 grams plain yoghurt
  • 150 millilitres vegetable oil (plus some for greasing)
  • 3 eggs
  • 250 grams caster sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • 175 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon icing sugar (to serve)
  • ⅔ cup plain yogurt
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil (plus some for greasing)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1¼ cups superfine sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar (to serve)

Method

I know this cake best in a ring shape, ciambella (pronounced “chambella”) as it’s known in Italy, and a 22cm/9-inch savarin or ring mould is a fairly standard baking tin here in the UK, too, but do use a 22 or 23cm/9-inch springform tin if that’s easier for you: the cake won’t be as high, but don’t use a smaller diameter because, without the hole in the middle, the cake wouldn’t cook properly in the centre if the tin were any deeper.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F, and grease your ring mould (or springform tin); you can use vegetable oil for this or a special baking spray.
  2. Separate the eggs and put the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Whisk the whites until you have firm peaks, then set aside while you get on with the rest of the cake.
  3. Scrape the yogurt out of its pot and on to the egg yolks, then use the emptied yogurt pot to measure out your other ingredients – so, next, add 2 pots (just) of sugar and whisk with the egg yolks and yogurt until airy and light.
  4. Now fill your yogurt pot up with vegetable oil and, beating all the while, slowly add this to the egg yolk mixture. Then beat in 2 capfuls/teaspoons of vanilla extract and the zest of half a lemon.
  5. Still beating, add 2 yogurt potfuls of flour followed by 1 yogurt potful of cornflour or potato starch, then scrape down and fold in with a rubber or silicone spatula. Now, with a large metal spoon, dollop in the whisked egg whites, and fold them in with the spatula.
  6. Fill the prepared ring mould with the smooth, soft batter – it will come right to the top – and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes; when cooked, the sides will be coming away at the edges and a cake tester will come out clean.
  7. Remove it from the oven to a wire rack, letting the cake sit in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out.
  8. Once cooled (although I love this still slightly warm), transfer it to a serving plate or stand and dust with icing sugar. Traditionally, this cake would be placed on the plate with the smooth side uppermost, but I rather like it turned back up the way it was baked, with its rustic cracks and uneven surface visible.

I know this cake best in a ring shape, ciambella (pronounced “chambella”) as it’s known in Italy, and a 22cm/9-inch savarin or ring mould is a fairly standard baking tin here in the UK, too, but do use a 22 or 23cm/9-inch springform tin if that’s easier for you: the cake won’t be as high, but don’t use a smaller diameter because, without the hole in the middle, the cake wouldn’t cook properly in the centre if the tin were any deeper.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F, and grease your ring mould (or springform tin); you can use vegetable oil for this or a special baking spray.
  2. Separate the eggs and put the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Whisk the whites until you have firm peaks, then set aside while you get on with the rest of the cake.
  3. Scrape the yogurt out of its pot and on to the egg yolks, then use the emptied yogurt pot to measure out your other ingredients – so, next, add 2 pots (just) of sugar and whisk with the egg yolks and yogurt until airy and light.
  4. Now fill your yogurt pot up with vegetable oil and, beating all the while, slowly add this to the egg yolk mixture. Then beat in 2 capfuls/teaspoons of vanilla extract and the zest of half a lemon.
  5. Still beating, add 2 yogurt potfuls of flour followed by 1 yogurt potful of cornstarch or potato starch, then scrape down and fold in with a rubber or silicone spatula. Now, with a large metal spoon, dollop in the whisked egg whites, and fold them in with the spatula.
  6. Fill the prepared ring mould with the smooth, soft batter – it will come right to the top – and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes; when cooked, the sides will be coming away at the edges and a cake tester will come out clean.
  7. Remove it from the oven to a wire rack, letting the cake sit in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out.
  8. Once cooled (although I love this still slightly warm), transfer it to a serving plate or stand and dust with confectioners' sugar. Traditionally, this cake would be placed on the plate with the smooth side uppermost, but I rather like it turned back up the way it was baked, with its rustic cracks and uneven surface visible.

Tell us what you think

What 8 Others have said

  • I made this in a Nordic Ware Bundt pan, and it worked beautifully. The pan I used has their higher-grade nonstick surface, and I also used a cooking spray available at Williams Sonoma in the US. The cake slid out without a crumb out of place, and it was fully baked at around 36 to 38 minutes in my oven.

    Posted by Beth10 on 18th August 2016
  • Great cake - just made one using a raspberry yoghurt and in a standard time. Took a little longer to bake nearer 40 mins but what is an extra 5-10 minutes for cake!

    Posted by Alan45 on 4th August 2016
  • Hi Just Bought the book Cooked this 3 times now Devine

    Posted by jill l on 2nd June 2015
  • I also made this with gluten free flour and the potato starch. Delicious!

    Posted by Marycwr on 5th January 2015
  • Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

    Posted by Mamaitse on 20th December 2014
  • OMG I made this cake and its delicious. I found it hard to stop at eating one piece. Easy to make, great recipe Nigella.

    Posted by HelenKelly on 1st December 2014
  • I watched Nigellissima and followed the directions. Only to discover later that it also needed flour which was not shown in the tv edition. So my question; is it both possible? I just baked it without and it's looking good form outside looking in the oven. It needs to cool for now. I may return to report the result.

    Posted by Fuqati on 23rd October 2014
  • I thought this cake was beautiful! I used gluten free flour and it still tasted good. Will be making again, Thank you

    Posted by kmggab on 27th September 2014
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