Let me be clear, here. I do not bake. Oh I do have one or two up my sleeve when needed (Claudia Roden's wonderful orange cake** is the best!) but essentially I am a cook not a baker.
However this weekend I needed a cake - something simple and sturdy as it was going on a picnic. And it was Saturday night before I realised this and the cake had to be ready on Sunday morning, so the cake had to be made out of what was already in the house.
The good news is that many women have faced this problem before me, and the solution lay right on my book shelves. There are excellent simple cakes in France, Italy and Spain, and although Marcella Hazan and Patricia Wells (and others) were on hand, a quick dive into Penelope Casas' "Delicioso" - a detailed exploration of the regional cooking of Spain - and I had it.
ALL I NEEDED to make Bizcocho de Naranja (Orange Yoghurt Cake - page 426) were orange juice, an orange, a lemon, plain full fat yoghurt, eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and a 8-9" springform cake pan. Check!
This is a lovely, dense, citrus flavoured cake (from the tiny volcanic island of La Gomera, famous all over the Canary islands for its outstanding desserts, Penny tells us). Cut in nice chunks and eat with your fingers - perfect for a picnic - or serve for tea or with fresh fruit any time.
** Claudia Roden's Orange cake appeared first in her "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" in 1974 and has been picked up constantly everywhere ever since. Find it also in her wonderful "The Book of Jewish Food"
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
5 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
grated peel of 1/4 lemon
grated peel of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 pound butter, melted
1/4 cup full fat yoghurt
1/4 cup ground blanched almonds to sprinkle on top
Grease deep 8-9" spring form pan with butter and dust with flour. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until light coloured, then beat in the sugar, grated lemon and orange peel, orange juice, butter and yoghurt. Gradually stir in the flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, then gently stir into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared springform cake pan and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake at 350F for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool briefly, then remove the sides of the springform and cool completely.