[Marrakech rose, May 2014.]
June. On Saturday we walked and walked in Rabat just here and there in the Casbah and the medina where I did not buy anything and thus spared myself the fatigue of haggling. I impulse-purchased a really pretty tea set in Sale and told Sierra that when she is just a little bit older we can play tea parties with it (I may have to go back for more pottery; it’s dangerous there as everything is so well-made and affordable – mostly – and very nice). We drove back along the coast and the beaches were surprisingly rugged and not too crowded. I made a mental note to organize ourselves to get up there at least once a month as it’s only an hour from Casa and much quieter, which for a lot of us is sorely needed on the regular.
[A few scenes from the weekend.]
Meanwhile my parents came to town last week and I’ve predictably engaged in the usual frenzy of baking that occurs when I have visitors in the house. I’ve baked spicy vegan gingersnaps, cornbread muffins, regular muffins (using all whole wheat pastry flour and brown sugar for the maple syrup), and a riff on that reliably good lemon yogurt cake I have made more times than I can reasonably count.
Well — I’m still keeping pretty eggless over here. I think I’ll come back around in time but for the moment I’m hesitating to even use them in baked good (issues, I have ’em). For my husband’s belated birthday cake – he being in Algiers for the past two weeks, thus missing both the Memorial Day weekend and his birthday the poor guy – for a little celebration we’ll have on Wednesday there is no question I will turn to this chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream 1. because it’s really one of the best cakes in my small repertoire and 2. the chocolate cake recipe calls for not one egg. Perfect!
But anyway, I wanted to have some cake in the house for my family upon their arrival. We like to have an afternoon cup of tea — perhaps why I was drawn to that pretty tea set — and I mean, you just have to have a bit of cake to go along with that. Lemon yogurt cake is one of my favorites, plus it’s so quick to put together, an aspect which is especially more relevant now that I have an 8-month-old wriggler who seems to cat-nap rather than take long luxurious sleeps. (I think she takes after me who truly cannot nap at all unless I am incredibly jet-lagged. I think I was able to get in one nap throughout the early days of her life, when all you hear is “sleep when the baby sleeps!” What a lovely idea, but for someone like me, who was vibrating with the wish to run pretty much as soon as we arrived home, it was impossible. Consequently I am still tired but at least I have cake.)
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet and the DPO I had a bag of ground flaxseeds in the fridge and I thought I’d throw caution off the upstairs balcony into that nice breeze off the Atlantic and use the flax egg substitute in place of true eggs. And wouldn’t you know … it turned out beautifully! The cake is a bit more dense, a little more heavy, and its texture is not as fine, but this is not to its detriment. In fact it’s rather the opposite. I think I actually prefer the cake sans ouefs. Am I crazy? Possibly. Yet I also like the added nutritional boost from the flax seeds, high in omega-3 fats, fiber, and a whole slew of other vitamins. And the cake itself is flecked with bits of flax meal that adds an interesting visual and just the barest hint of nuttiness.
Along with a pot of PG Tips (we are not fancy in this household) or a nice cuppa rooibos after dinner a slice of this cake slips down ever so nicely. In less than 6 weeks we’ll be back in our beloved Northern California for a vacation, and won’t that be nice, too. I’m already anticipating my first burrito from Green Chili Kitchen and my long-awaited trail run out to Arch Rock — all of it is so close I can almost taste it. Cake to keep me going ’til then.
I was initially a bit trepidatious about how this cake would taste because I used flax seeds in place of the eggs; would it be stodgy? Too flax-y? But! As these things can go, my fears were totally unfounded. If you would rather, substitute three large eggs for the flax seeds + water combo. To make this completely vegan, substitute a non-dairy yogurt or ‘milk’ for the plain yogurt.
For the cake:
1/2 cup plain full-fat yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds dissolved in 9 tablespoons of water (let rest 15 minutes or more in the fridge before using)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
For the glaze:
Juice from 2 lemons
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and flax seeds, stirring and whisking until well blended. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and vanilla, mixing to just combine. Add the oil and stir well to incorporate. Keep stirring until it forms a smooth batter. Pour and scrape the batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan or bundt pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
When the cake is thoroughly cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake.