Since moving to Toronto, one of my greatest joys has been volunteering at a nearby temporary residence for refugee claimants. Canada's immigration policy is such that over 100,000 refugees are admitted into the country each year to begin the process of
gaining permanent residence. One of the residences for those who enter and declare refugee status upon their arrival into the country or soon thereafter, is called Adam House, and is just a few blocks from my house. I go there to work as a volunteer twice
a week including the busiest day, which is Tuesday.
This past Tuesday I decided to teach a young immigrant woman to bake. She had been asking me how to bake a cake, and one day brought a boxed cake mix to me to try it out. She had never baked anything before, not having owned an oven in her home country.
Although I rarely use a boxed cake mix for anything, I thought it would be a good way to get her started on the basics of preparation, such as pre-heating the oven and greasing the pan. Since we have no electric mixer at the residence, she used a large wooden
spoon to stir the batter. To her delight, the cake turned out very well, and was quickly devoured by the other residents who happened to be in the house at the time.
But this past week, I remembered a cake recipe that a Spanish friend had given me years ago when he realized how much the church that we were attending in Bilbao depended upon my baking skills for their pot-luck suppers. I made the recipe many times over
in Spain, where I found the ovens to be deficient for many other cake recipes. Normally, my cakes, and those of other Americans used to good ovens and excellent ingredients in the States, would rise well, and then fall. I always blamed the ingredients for
this as well as the oven, too soft margarine, too moist flour, or whatever. Recipes that I used at home in Wisconsin, New Jersey, or New York, that always came out perfect, simply flopped in a Spanish kitchen. Among missionary wives, we had our own theories
regarding this phenomenon, and our remedies which we frequently shared with one another, down to a science. Regardless, sometimes the best made plans, and cakes, fell after they came out of the oven. But with this recipe, handed to me by my Spanish friend,
I always found success.
The key ingredient of this never-fail recipe is contained in the only measuring cup needed, a small, 100gm (half cup), cup of yogurt, any flavor. My cooking student at Adam House liked this idea from the start! I brought her from my home, a neatly written
recipe, translated to English of course, and a cup of yogurt. She followed the directions very precisely, at my minimal amount of supervision, and the cake was a success! Again it was quick work for the residents to eat it, but now she has her own copy of
the secret recipe that she can make anytime she wants, as long as there are still some eggs remaining in the fridge from the latest shopping trip.
1 100gm cup of yogurt, any flavor
1 yogurt cup measure of cooking oil
3 yogurt cup measures of flour
3 yogurt cup measures of sugar
2 tsp baking powder.
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease (non-stick spray works best) an 8X12" baking pan or dish.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until completely blended. Pour into prepared pan and put it on the center rack in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Let it cool before cutting.