Friday, March 09, 2007

Yogurt Cake with Kumquat Marmalade Glaze


Many years ago, I was assigned to Greece for two months. I remember feeling an almost unbearable thrill when I found out. I had never been to Greece and it was one of the countries I had always dreamed of seeing. Would it be all that I imagined?

As sure as baklava is sweet, Greece wound its pulsing energy around my heart and I was lost to a country whose magic is both ancient and modern, where you can be rushing down a tiny back alley and then suddenly look up and see temples where ancient gods once worked their wonders, or arenas where philosophers once debated. But aside from all the enchantments Greece threw my way, I was also seduced by something a little more basic: the food.

I ate Greek food everyday for two months and not once did I ever tire of it. Gyros from my neighborhood rotisserie (the best I have ever tasted), baklava heavy with honey, pita bread with fava, taramosalata, melitzanosalata, and tzaziki, horiatiki salata with huge slabs of feta cheese, lamb youvetsi (my favorite Greek dish), dolmades, grilled octopus, a plethora of marinated olives from the market up the street…and then there was the yogurt. Greek yogurt was a revelation. It was thicker, creamier, and just plain better in ever single way. I ate it everyday, and each day my eyes still closed in ecstasy at my first bite. I had it with fresh peaches or with honey that was filled with pistachios. Still one of my best food memories.

Leaving Greece the yogurt-withdrawal panic set in…How can I get it? Will I ever have it again? Greek yogurt was not something they sold in Manila. I basically spent the years after Greece on the lookout for this yogurt, hoping that someone somewhere would start selling it, but no such luck. Until one day, I stumbled on a tip that one of our warehouse-style supermarkets was carrying a brand of yogurt that was, though not Greek, better then most available locally. I wasted no time in rushing over and buying myself a bucket. Yes, a bucket. As this was one of those membership type warehouse clubs, they sold most things in bulk. In this case a two-kilo bucket of yogurt. Of course, yogurt-starved that I was, this didn’t faze me in the least. I’ve mentioned this yogurt before here.

From the time I bought my first bucket, I haven’t turned back. This may not be Greek yogurt, but if there is a better yogurt in this town, I haven’t found it yet, and believe you me, I have been looking. It is thicker and creamier then anything on the market right now. I’ve already clocked in a ton of yogurt breakfasts since I found it and I have used it in cooking as well…all with great results. And now it was time to bake with it.

I had baked yogurt cakes before but most turn out disappointingly. Armed with the new and improved yogurt I was brimming with excitement to try again. I found many recipes, both in my cookbooks and on the internet, and bookmarked them all. I finally decided to try this recipe which I found on Stel’s yummy blog Baby Rambutan. I was drawn to it for two reasons: it had a marmalade glaze which I thought would be perfect for my kumquat marmalade, and was simple enough to leave fewer dishes for me to wash (a girl has to be practical too!). I followed the recipe as is, except I only used 1 teaspoon lemon zest and no orange zest.

The cake was soft and moist, with a dense crumb…I was hoping for it to be a bit lighter but it was still delicious. The kumquat marmalade was a perfect complement. There was a spot which was a tad under-baked, although I left it in the oven for a good 55 minutes. As Stel advises, this would be great with coffee. I like that it also makes a good base for many variations. I may try this with some stewed fruits next.

I am 100% content with my yogurt find, and look forward to using it in even more ways. One day, I’ll return to Greece, and eat Greek yogurt to my heart’s content, but until then, I have something to tide me over.

Update (4/30/08): I am entering this post to AFAM (A Fruit A Month) hosted this month by Coffee & Vanilla! Thanks Margot for giving my the heads up! :)

30 comments:

Patricia Scarpin said...

The cake is beautiful, Joey, and the marmalade glaze must have been perfect with it!

Gattina said...

Joey, you cake is pretty as gold!!! I've just bought some Greek yogurt, as you said, they are terrific!

Miss Tiffie said...

Looks delicious! I haven't had Greek food in awhile and now I crave it...

ParisBreakfasts said...

Ooooooooooooooooooooooo...
Who's LUCKY now ?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Patricia! Thank you :) The marmalade did suit it perfectly :)

Hi Gattina! Thanks! Greek yogurt is terrific isn't it? :) Lucky you for having some! :)

Hi Miss Tiffie! Thanks for stopping by ! I love Greek food :)

Hi Carol! Heehee :) I guess we all are all sorts of lucky ;)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That's a gold bar if ever I saw one. Beautiful Joey!
Lucky you to have the Greek experience. It's on my list of places to visit.

Brilynn said...

I've never been to Greece, (someday I hope!) but I first had Greek yogurt in Australia of all places. I absolutely loooove it and can't find the same stuff here.
Your cake looks beautiful.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! Thank you :) I was lucky to have a job that let me travel...Greece is fantastic!

Hi Brilynn! Thanks! Funny but the yogurt I found here, that isn't Greek but is good enough, is Australian :)

Melting Wok said...

yayy, more kumquats and yogurt too, yumsss !! :))

christine said...

Hey you made it! And it looks super yummy! I've been meaning to make Dorie Greenspan's version for a long time now. I'll do it soon so we can compare notes. :) And I ditto everything you said about yogurt and the serendipitous discovery of that 2kg tub in S&R! :)

Susan said...

Oh, Joey, I love the glaze on this cake-it's so sunshiny and cheerful. I just read your kumquat marmalade post too! Sounds like we had similar experiences! I can't wait to try both recipes.

Anonymous said...

Greece is one of those places I have always wanted to visit. The closest I've come is Corfu, and the memory of those crystal blue water still makes me smile. I also love Greek food, I can only imagine what kind of heaven I would be in if I could eat it every day! Are you a journalist that you were assigned there?

Your Yogurt Cake looks delicious, especially with the Kumquat Marmalade!


Ari (Baking and Books)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Melting Wok! Hehe :) Glad you like it!

Hi Nens! Yes, we must compare notes! I am curious to see how Dorie's turns out...could you send me the recipe? Oh, and they sell the yogurt in Rustans now! :)

Hi Susan! Thank you! :) Yes, I was giggling away when I read you kumquat post because it was like reliving my own experience :)

Hi Ari! Thanks :) Ooooh, Corfu! I never made it there but I hear that it is indeed very beautiful! Although I would love to say that I was a journalist I was really in sales :)

Mila Tan said...

Was this the cake that you were "fighting" with last week? :)

christine said...

Yes, I'm so happy they do because S&R is always out! In fact, I bought a tub for Rina yesterday. :) Sure, I'll send you the recipe when I type it up. I plan to make it soon, maybe on Sunday when the cheesecake runs out.

mae said...

Joey, i'm so happy for your find.

The cake looks stunning. I wanted to make some Kumquat Marmalade since seeing your post and i found some in the market. The only thing was, they were not as firm as one could hope. They were in poor condition, so i didn't buy them. I'm still looking, though. They are heavily expensive in this part of the world.

I wish i had a slice of this cake right now with my coffee. :)

Mae

Linda said...

this looks lovely. i have never made a yoghurt based cake OR had kumquat marmalade. i can't wait to try this out!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mila! The very one! So there was a bit of excitement in the making :)

Hi Nens! Thanks! Just bought a tub today! And what cheesecake is this? :)

Hi Mae! Thank you! :) I'm very happy with the yogurt :) Pity about the kumquats, but then again who is the lucky gal who has easy access to the heavenly sounding Jersey cream? ;)

Hi Linda! Thanks! :) I am a total fool for yogurt and all it's incarnations!

tigerfish said...

Not sure if I've seen kumquat marmalade. Reminds me of some kind of korean citrus kumquat (bottled and sure looks like marmalade) and you can make tea (hot or cold) with it.

trina said...

first, i LOVE your blog!
second, you can actually make thick greek-style yogurt out of regular yogurt, if you're craving that thick creaminess. here's how: http://greekfood.about.com/od/greekcookingtips/ht/strainyogurt.htm and here http://www.lerios.org/recipes/straining.php
you're basically straining the yogurt to get some of the liquids out, thus thickening it up. hope it works!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tigerfish! That bottled kumquat that you make into tea sounds interesting and good too :) I can just imagine making iced tea with it!

Hi Trina! Thanks for dropping by and for such a nice comment! And thank you for the useful links :) I have also tried straining yogurt before but a lot of our yogurts here are so homogenized that their liquids and solids can't separate! (imagine that) I do want to strain this new yogurt I found and see just how thick it can get! :)

Kristina said...

Hi Joey! I checked out your link to the original recipe and sure enough it was the same cake as the one I had made! I tweaked it a little bit (used melted butter instead of the oil and added some oj concentrate and some orange liquer to bump up the flavour). Your cake looks great--I love the idea of using different jams/ marmelades to top the cake! This is one of my tried and true recipes...maybe you could lower the oven temperature and bake it for slightly longer to avoid a gooey middle?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Kristina! I will try substituting the oil for butter next time...sounds delicious :) With the orange juice as well! Thanks for the tip on the oven temp and baking time...will definitely try that next time :)

sha said...

my flat ready for your return my dear....hurry up and will enjoy our lives together

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sha! Hahaha! Ok, better get all the greek yogurt and dolmas ready! :)

Lera said...

hey joey,this one is soooooooo yummmmm,mouthwatering!!! wish I was your neighbour...:)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lera! Thanks so much! :) If you were my neighbor I would definitely give you a slice of this (in return for some kofta curry!) :)

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Hi,

I'm hosting AFAM - kumquats this month, today is the last day and I would love to have this recipe as your entry.

http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com/?p=2011

Thank you, Margot

ChichaJo said...

Hi Margot! I'd love to join with this recipe! :) I hope I make it...I'm emailing you now!

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Hi,

Just a short note to let you know that April's AFAM (Kumquats) round-up is now online:

http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com/?p=2213

Margot