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A recipe for honey yoghurt cake
For cheesecake lovers in summertime
I’m rather obsessed with bees. I think they’re one of the most fascinating things in existence.
This is why I’ve been enjoying William Cooper’s beekeeping journey over on his newsletterso much. I implore you to check it out as well! Maybe when my kids grow up and abandon me, I’ll have the capacity to care for some beehives of my own. It definitely sounds like a more attractive mid-life crisis than buying a motorbike and leathers.
I think what I find so wonderful about bees is in how, despite being as alien to we humans as countless other insects, they’re uniquely linked to us in what they produce: honey. This being an ingredient, a gift I should say considering how indebted we are to them for it, that has coloured human lives for millennia.
One of my favourite writers, Samuel Beckett, wrote in his novel Molloy about bees that:
“Here is something I can study all my life and never understand… when I rack my mind for a little joy, the thought of my bees and their dance is the nearest thing to comfort.”
The dance he is talking about is the unique and remarkable way bees communicate with subtle variations of their flight and position. And whether it is their dance you appreciate as Beckett’s protagonist does, their honey, or the important role they play across nature, bees really are responsible for a great deal of human joy.
I’ve been tweaking the recipe I’m sharing today for a few months. I’m sharing now because I finally think I’ve settled on my favourite version. And it’s the use of honey that I think makes it so very good.
Honey serves as both the sweetening and flavouring element for this rich but very “manageable” yoghurt cake. And what do I mean by manageable? Let me put it this way, if a slice of New York baked cheesecake is a dense and heavy 8% stout, this yoghurt cake is a light and breezy session IPA.
And I really do like the idea of a “session” cake.
Part of this lightness comes from the sponge base (as opposed to crushed digestives/graham crackers). The lightness also comes from the use of yoghurt, which has both more acidity and less fat than the cream cheese of a cheesecake. The use of yoghurt also makes this recipe a lot cheaper than baking a traditional baked cheesecake. But I promise, coming from someone who adores baked cheesecake, this recipe satisfies the same itch very well.
Quick note: the simplicity of this recipe lends itself to your own experimentation and ideas. The images I’m sharing actually show a version of the honeyed yoghurt cake with a little added liquorice and strawberry. If anyone is interested in how to make liquorice “jam”, drop a comment and I’ll be sure to write it up. For now, I used these pictures because I think they are just so darn pretty.
And one other thing… this recipe is a free sample of paid subscriber content. If you would like access to all my work on The Recovering Line Cook, or you have been enjoying the newsletter and are able to support my writing with a few euro/dollars a month, please consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Honeyed yoghurt cake
For the base:
1 tsp baking powder
For the filling:
500g Turkish yogurt
100ml good honey
2 tbsp potato starch (or corn starch)
a dash of vanilla extract
First up is the base. As you can see from the ingredients list, this is very much like a cake batter. However, the high percentage of flour renders this more like a dough than cake batter, so don’t be alarmed if you think it is a bit thick once it’s all put together.
And putting it together is as easy as you’d like.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk (or wooden spoon if you’ve found yourself in the 19th century)
Whisk in the egg bit by bit
Fold in the flour and baking powder
Line the bottom of a 26cm cake tin with baking paper (I use a springform cake tin) and work some butter around it and the cake tin insides.
Then work the cake “dough” evenly around the bottom and up the sides about an inch. This cake "casing” should hold all your yoghurt filling, but really it’s no big deal if your yoghurt filling goes over or under the cake base. As long as your cake tin fits everything, the cake will cook really well.
Now time to put your prepped cake base aside while you make your yoghurt filling.
With a whisk, mix the yoghurt with the eggs, honey and potato flour/corn starch and add a dash of vanilla (note: the potato starch/corn starch helps thicken and also protect the egg during baking so you get a consistently smooth set). Also, if you are using very thick/set honey you can loosen it with some of the yogurt first, just to help get everything mixed nicely.
Add this yoghurt mix to your cake base and bake for one hour at 175 degrees. I like to check it after 50-55 minutes. I take it out when there is an ever so slight gesture of a wobble remaining in the centre of the filling.
This should really be eaten cold for best results.
For a really nice accompaniment, quarter some strawberries and mix them with a spoonful more of the honey. After an hour or so at room temperature, they will have released some liquid and taken on some of the perfume of the honey. It’s just excellent with this cake.
And like I said, this is a really good recipe to riff off. Try swirling some jam through the mix for a fruity version as the pictures show in this post, maybe dot it with chocolate chunks.
Have fun with it.