Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach and Raisin Yogurt Cake

I've been running this little blog of mine for a little over two years now, and as corny as I'm about to sound, I can't imagine my life without it now. It's become such an ingrained part of my day-to-day routine, that it would be extremely weird (I'm sure there that there is a better word to use than "weird," but I'm pretty sure that it is the most fitting descriptor in this case) to wake up on a Saturday morning and not bake something.  Or not to sit for hours looking up recipes and photography inspiration.  Or not spend time sorting through dozens of photographs and subsequently editing the ones I have deemed to be the most worthy to publish for the world to see. It would be extremely weird not to have a side project with which to occupy my time and learn from. This blog, even though it is still small and relatively unknown in the world of food blogging, has far exceeded my initial expectations, and I couldn't be happier with it.  It doesn't bother me in the slightest that I don't have thousands of subscribers or followers, or dozens of comments on every single recipe that I post. The comments I have received over the past two years have been overwhelmingly positive, and I love reading each and every single comment I get.  This blog has become my go-to place for me to simply write down my thoughts and share a few photographs and a recipe that I find beautiful and delicious, and that alone brings me an immense amount of satisfaction.  For those of you who have been following along since the beginning, as well as the ones who are only recently beginning to tune in, thank you for sticking around. Your kind words are the cherry on top of my happy blogging sundae.  Thanks for reading, for offering suggestions, and for bearing with me while my photography got caught up to speed and during the occasional post where it was painfully clear that I was suffering from an unfortunate case of writer's block. You guys are all really awesome for it.

Aside from learning more about food photography (which I still have tons to learn about) and about myself as a writer, I've also grown much more confident in myself as a baker.  Sure, while I still typically choose to focus on simple, homemade recipes, I've certainly grown from baking more than classic drop cookies and quick cupcakes (not that there is anything wrong with them; they're considered favorites for a reason).  I can now bake a mean pie with a seriously flaky and buttery crust, and mix up a dozen perfectly rich and incredibly fluffy brioche buns.  Two years ago, I doubt I would have considered a completely homemade from-scratch pie to be an option for a simple dessert to share with others, and brioche buns?  Please, those were just something I could only dream about being able to make.  Fast forward two years, and I've offered to bring homemade pies to potlucks without even thinking twice about it, and I'm thinking it's about time that I make another batch of brioche buns.  My next self-imposed challenges include nothing more than piping out a perfect rows of delicate macarons and baking up a dozen fresh croissants to enjoy warm from the oven.  I thrive on giving myself seemingly impossible challenges and overcoming them, and macarons and croissants will be no different.

As much as I love challenging myself in the kitchen, it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate my favorite, tried and true recipes any less. Take this yogurt Bundt cake, for example.  I've made and eaten this Bundt cake more times than I can possibly count.  It's simple, has ten ingredients, is one of the few recipes that I have committed to memory, and is just plain delicious.  It's no surprise that one of my favorite cake recipes also happens to be one of my mom's oldest recipes, from a Colombian cookbook that is definitely older than I am.  This peach and raisin yogurt cake is a family favorite that is held in very high regard, and is in fact, one of my uncle's favorite desserts.  Maybe it's the fact that this cake holds a special place among all the other desserts I've made over the years that keeps me coming back to it as one of my absolute favorites, but it could also just as easily be the fact that this cake is perfectly delicious as a result of its own simplicity. 

For me, simple yogurt cakes can easily beat out the most beautifully and lusciously frosted cakes, and they can stand on very firm ground when placed next to a rich chocolate cake.  Cakes made with yogurt are bright and subtly tangy, and have a lovely dense texture that crumbles beautifully.  Yogurt cakes are made even better when they have lots of butter in them to provide rich contrast (I'll say this now, I love baking cakes with yogurt purely for the added flavor and texture, rather than attempting to call the resulting cakes "light" in any sense of the term), and in the case of this particular cake, some added peaches and raisins for sweetness.  The lovely folks at Chobani reached out to me a few weeks ago and offered to send my a package of my favorite Greek yogurts to bake with.  Needless to say I was beyond thrilled; how could I not be?  I've always loved creamy and rich Greek yogurt, especially once I realized all the things you could make with it, aside from eating it straight. Initially, I will admit that I wanted to use my Chobani yogurts in something a bit different, like a crazy frozen concoction, or by mixing them into a tall stack of waffles for a weekend breakfast, but then I thought about it, and decided against it.  While I love frozen yogurt as much as the next person, I just couldn't shake the idea of incorporating some Chobani into one of my absolute favorite cakes, a cake which surprisingly, took me over two years to introduce to the blog.  Let me tell you, it was a good call.

Much of the my mom's original recipe stayed the same- the major change came with the yogurt itself.  The original recipe uses regular, not Greek-style, peach yogurt.  I opted to use vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt to add an extra hint of vanilla to the cake, and added some diced frozen peaches to mimic the peaches found in the original recipe.  If you want to use fresh peaches, by all means go ahead, but I chose to use frozen, as I think they dice up much more neatly, and let's be honest, saves us the trouble of peeling the peaches themselves (which is certainly not hard, but if we can save ourselves one small step, why not, right?).  I figured a half a cup of diced peaches would be enough, but if you want a little more peach flavor, two-thirds of a cup of peaches should do just the trick.  This peach yogurt cake requires only a small amount of effort to put together, and is completely worth the few minutes you spend in the kitchen, and more.  This recipe will yield two small Bundt cakes, which also makes it the perfect cake to share.  And with that, thank you, Chobani, for sharing some delicious Greek yogurts with me!  They sure did make for some delicious cake. 

Peach and Raisin Yogurt Cake
my mama's recipe!


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
14 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt (I used nonfat Chobani; I'm sure a whole milk Greek yogurt would work just as well!)
1/2 cup- 2/3 cup diced peaches (I used frozen, fresh would work fine as well)
1/2 cup raisins, divided


Begin by positioning a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheating it to 350 degrees F. Spray two 5-cup Bundt pans with non-stick baking spray and coat with flour, making sure to tap out any excess flour.  Sift together the all purpose flour and baking powder, and set aside. 

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the softened butter until very light and fluffy, about five minutes.  While the mixer is running, gradually beat in the all of the sugar, beating until well incorporated and the butter is a soft, pale yellow. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Beat in the vanilla extract and orange zest. 

Alternately add the flour mixture and the Greek yogurt to the cake batter a little at a time, making sure to begin and end with the flour mixture.  

Take care not to overmix; only mix until the ingredients are just combined!  With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the diced peaches and half of the raisins.

Divide the cake batter among the prepared pans, and smooth the tops with a spatula.  Evenly scatter the remaining raisins over the tops of the cakes, and bake in the preheated oven until the tops of the cakes are a rich golden brown color, about 55 minutes.  Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack until they're just warm, and then invert them from the Bundt pans to cool completely.  Once cooled, top with a little sprinkling of powdered sugar, slice, and enjoy!

Makes 2 5-cup Bundt cakes


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