May 4, 2009
This is like cheesecake, only yoghurt-y. I hope that appeals to you; I find it irresistable. Like many good things to eat, it's Turkish in origin. It's light and creamy with a hint of lemon, and it looks elegant and simple on the plate. Easy dinner party food. I served it cold from the fridge and it was fantastic; it was even better later, at room temperature.
When I was young, the back of our family fridge was occupied frequently by a huge jar of swampy pink juice. If you looked hard, turning the jar this way and that, then stalks of my grandmother's home-grown rhubarb would float out of the murk. I hated rhubarb (or at least, I thought I did). My father would spoon it out of the jar into a bowl and eat it with ice cream, to his children's slightly pitying disgust. Now I love it. I'm so happy to see it at the market in spring, looking sort of like camp celery.
This recipe for stewed rhubarb pairs it with ginger, and the results are good enough to eat on their own. I kept spooning it out of the pan - the sugary pink juices are wonderful. This same pink, gingery sweetness is a great foil to the slight tartness of the yoghurt cake. When rhubarbs aren't in season, I'd serve the cake with an orange blossom syrup, or some dried figs poached in honey.
Turkish Yoghurt Cake
from Claudia Roden, Arabesque (US, UK)
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup superfine (caster) sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
1 2/3 cup strained Greek-style yoghurt
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a thick, pale cream. Beat in the flour, then the yoghurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice until it is thoroughly blended. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the yoghurt mixture. Pour this into a round, nonstick baking tin (about 9 inches in diameter), greased with butter.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is brown. It will puff up like a soufflé and then subside. Turn out onto a serving plate, and serve warm or cold.
Stewed Rhubarb with Ginger
adapted from Simply Recipes*
3 cups rhubarb stalks (about 4 stalks), green leaves discarded, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup sugar
zest of one orange
2 tbsp minced candied ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. (This could easily be prepared on the stovetop - and in that way, I suppose, would be properly stewed - but if you're making it together with the yoghurt cake, it makes sense to cook them in the oven together.)
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, vanilla and ginger in a lightly buttered baking pan and allow to macerate for 15 minutes. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot over the surface of the fruit. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft.