Babycake

What a better way to celebrate a special occasion than sharing a nice homemade cake? Maybe sharing four homemade cakes which recipes were perfected, sometimes lightened up, over the years and transmitted from mother to daughter?

My mother is a great source of inspiration and information for healthy cooking as she used to be a passionate dietitian. When my sisters and I were younger, we believed she had the magical power of making calories disappear… When we felt like an ice-cream or some other delicacy after a meal, we would ask her if it was OK and her agreement would instantly lift any concern we might have.

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The entire Quéré family on a sunny Christmas day, in Lesconil, near Quimper, Brittany

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The first baking tip I learned from her, when using a traditional recipe, is to automatically divide the sugar content by two. And she is right! Not only you lower the caloric intake (and your conscience) but this really helps the other flavors come through. More recently, she taught me that a cake shouldn’t contain more than 20 g sugar and 15 g butter per serving (or 160 g sugar and 120 g butter for 8 servings).

The Apple Yogurt Cake is really a family favorite, so we actually served it last Christmas. Its success even crossed the Atlantic, as my American family immediately fell for this treat and kindly requests one on each of my visits. We sometimes prepare some variants with a bit of banana, coconut, rum and / or chocolate chips. You might use any kind of molds, large or individual, round or rectangle. It is particularly nice served a bit warm with some fromage blanc (or low-fat Greek yogurt) on the side.

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Improvised Christmas dinner with Apple Yogurt Cake, Fois Gras, pancakes and cheese. Why not?

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The Far Breton is a traditional cake from my region, Brittany. It looks like a prune flan and is probably the lightest of all Breton cakes. Others, like Kouign Amann, Galette de Saint-Michel or Palet Breton contain an horrifying quantity of butter and sugar. The Far Breton, on the other hand, is a great source of calcium (1 liter of milk), fibers and antioxidants (thanks to the prunes).

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The Express Chocolate Cake is a chocolate wonder only prepared in a matter of minutes! Its simple bare version is already very enjoyable. But it is also delicious with either a dark chocolate coating, or served with homemade whipped cream and canned pears, or homemade whipped cream, canned cherries and chocolate shavings for a Black Forest Cake style.

A cold Sunday afternoon of January 2015, I started baking these three cakes one after the other and finished with my beloved Carrot Cake (see Rain and Treats). You can imagine it took me a good part of the afternoon and probably delayed the blog post I was writing at that moment. No guest was expected though. Kjeld and I couldn’t resist a small piece of apple cake each, after dinner. The rest came to the office with me the following day.

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Indeed, I had something special to celebrate with my colleagues, the fact that Kjeld and I will become parents in a few months, in July more precisely! 🙂 I spread the news via an e-mail titled Babycake, hence the title of this post (it is also the name of the fourth book in the Tales of the City series by American novelist Armistead Maupin). A few minutes later, several colleagues joined me in the cafeteria to congratulate me and enjoy some cake, which was very nice. An hour later the last crumbs had vanished! I hope that this little boy who starts giving me a few good kicks will enjoy my cooking just as much! 🙂

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Apple yogurt cake
(serves 8)

2 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup sunflower / colza oil (or 30 g / 1 oz butter)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 small pack of vanilla sugar)
1 + 1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of ground cinammon
1 pinch of salt
4 apples, peeled and cubed

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar(s) energetically until creamy and fluffy. Add the oil (or melted butter) and mix well. Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk for another minute or two.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend well. Fold in the apples until well blended.

Butter and dust the cake mold with flour. Pour in the dough and bake in a preheated oven 180°C/350°F between 30 and 45 minutes or until the top gets a nice golden colour and a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

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Far Breton (Breton prune flan)
(serves 12)

250 g / 8 oz prunes
200 g / 1 + 1/2 cups plain flour
150 g / 3/4 cup caster sugar
1 pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 L / 4 + 1/8 cups milk (whole or half-skimmed)
40 g / 1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 small pack of vanilla sugar)

Whisk together the flour, caster sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour the milk in a medium pan, add the butter, rum and vanilla extract and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the prunes (either whole or halved) and let simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove the prunes from the milk using a slotted spatula and arrange them in the bottom of a large buttered and dusted baking dish. Gradually pour in the milk on the flour mix, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined. Pour the batter evenly over the prunes and bake in a preheated oven 220°C/425°F for 40 minutes.

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Express chocolate cake
(serves 8)

200 g / 6,5 oz dark chocolate
100 g / 1/2 cup butter
4 tbsp milk
80 g / 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
50 g / 1/3 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Combine dark chocolate, milk and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, remove and stir well. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar(s) energetically until creamy and fluffy. In another bowl sift together flour and baking powder. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend well. Fold in the melted chocolate until well blended. Pour the batter in a buttered and dusted microwave-safe dish and heat in the microwave on high for 5 minutes.

DSCF4186 (2)The Quéré women: 1 mother, 3 daughters, 2 of whom are pregnant. My sister Typhaine (second from the right) is also expecting for May 2015. 🙂

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