When one has children who start going to preschool, one develops a need for a go-to simple cake recipe.
There are birthdays that need celebrating, both in school and for birthday parties. In our maternelle there is also a weekly Monday bake sale, where the classes take turns baking cakes, to raise money for the end of the year school fair.
And sometimes you need something to do on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.
I’ve always enjoyed baking, but when we started our maternelle experience (or actually even earlier, as you were already celebrating birthdays at the halte-garderie), I started experimenting with gateaux à yaourt, yogurt cakes, a staple of French childhoods. In the crèche and in Petite Section, the teachers specify that cakes should have no messy frosting or cream that will have them endlessly wiping faces and fingers and anywhere they may have touched. Yogurt cakes fit the bill.
They are so ridiculously easy to make, do not even require dirtying any hand mixer tools, and can be whipped together over beers at the kitchen table with your neighbor on a Sunday afternoon while children play, after you suddenly remember it’s your class’s turn for cake day the next day (me yesterday afternoon).
They are fun to make with children, because you use the yogurt cup (125 ml) to measure out the rest of the ingredients.
This is my standard recipe, taken from Marmiton. It could not be easier. The most challenging part of this recipe is melting the chocolate in a double boiler and then letting it cool.
1 plain yogurt, 125 ml, of which the cup is to be washed and used to measure the rest of the ingredients
2 yogurt cups flour
1.5 yogurt cups sugar
¾ yogurt cup vegetable oil
½ tsp baking powder or one “sachet de levure”
200 grams baking chocolate
Preheat oven to 180°C/ 375°F
In a double boiler melt chocolate. Let stand until cool
In a bowl mix yogurt, sugar, vegetable oil and eggs. Add chocolate.
Mix together flour and baking powder, then slowly add to the rest of the ingredients, stirring until incorporated.
Pour batter into a greased cake pan.
Bake time: 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes by sticking a knife in the middle and seeing if it comes out clean.
I also like to add colored sprinkles to the top before baking. This ensures the delight of the children who will be eating it.