Yoghurt is a basic staple of Pakistani cuisine, and one that we take very much for granted. But, as with so many other things, not all yoghurt is equal.
Originating in Central Asia many centuries ago, yoghurt is well known for a variety of health benefits: high in protein, calcium, vitamins and, in the case of live yoghurt, bursting with probiotics too.
Traditionally used to make raita and lassi, and used in curries and desserts, yoghurt is known for alleviating digestive ailments and is used in both skin- and hair-beautifying procedures as well. In fact, the vast majority of the population would be quite lost without it!
Some commercially manufactured yoghurt does equate with the desi variety in health benefits but some of them, no matter how prettily packaged, offer no, or questionable, benefits at all and can have such a high sugar content as to actually detract from heath instead of promoting it.
Therefore, if good quality desi yoghurt isn’t to be found in your locality — and quality does vary tremendously — and the commercially manufactured variety is all you can get, be sure to read the label of contents before making your purchase and select accordingly.
Yoghurt, cherries or any seasonal fruit adds moisture to this fast, easy, light, yet decadent summer cake bursting with fruit flavour
This delicious yoghurt cake is decadently rich, yet surprisingly light in texture, and is the ultimate tea-time treat. Simple to make, the recipe, like all recipes, can be adjusted for personal taste. For example, use only half the amount of sugar, change the cherries for raspberries, blueberries, mango pulp or other preferred or in-season fruit and top with lashings of whipped cream instead of icing sugar.
For a cake with a cheesy difference, you can reduce the sugar to the bare minimum and replace the fruit with 1.5 cups of grated, extra strong, cheddar cheese: this may sound rather unpalatable but, on the contrary and with a few pinches of mixed herbs for good measure, it is extraordinarily superb.
1.5 cups halved fresh cherries, stones removed or a 300g tin of cherries with juice strained and kept aside
3 cups plain white flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup natural yoghurt
Half cup melted butter/margarine
Icing sugar for the top of the cake, if desired
Red/pink food colouring for the icing if you wish
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until creamy and smooth. Stir in the melted butter, which should not be hot. Stir in the yoghurt, beating the mixture with a wooden spoon until everything is thoroughly blended.
Add the flour, a spoonful at a time, mixing well between each addition and add the baking powder too. Mix until a thick batter is formed and stir in either the fresh, halved cherries or the strained tinned cherries and mix some more. (If you are going to ice the cake, keep a few cherries in reserve to decorate it with.)
Line a cake tin with aluminum foil and pour the cake batter in.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven, at medium heat, for approximately 45–50 minutes or until the cake is nicely browned and cooked through.
Allow to cool completely and then turn out on to a cake rack or wooden board and carefully peel off the aluminium foil from the bottom and sides of the cake. Do not try to do this while the cake is still hot as it may break.
Serve as it is, dust with icing sugar or top with icing made by mixing a tiny amount of water, a couple of drops of pink or red food colouring with icing sugar or, if you have used tinned cherries in the cake, use a little of the reserved liquid from them to mix the icing sugar with. Icing must be spread as soon as it is mixed otherwise it will set in the mixing bowl.
Decorate with reserved cherries and pop straight into the refrigerator until the icing is completely set. If you forget to immediately refrigerate the iced cake, the icing (especially if the kitchen is warm), will run off the top of the cake and drip down its sides.
Published in Dawn, EOS, April 3rd, 2022