Reluctantly admitting that yours truly doesn’t know how to cook that well, when I was told that we should bring some food to share for the year end picnic organized by Little Sous-Chef’s school, I entered in panic mode.
OK, OK, there are various solutions to the problem:
a) Not confronting it and gracefully declining the invite (and then dealing with a pouty face and the guilt for a long while. Ha! For all I know, it might come out in a therapy session 15 years from now: “My mom didn’t want to come to the end-of-the-year picnic when I was 5; therefore, I have been biting my nails ever since.”)
b) Being practical and proactive about it and just buying some beautiful platter of finger food from a fancy caterer and then shamelessly talk about how busy you are with your full time job and your two kids (and your husband, let’s not forget about him), all of it true, to make up for not preparing something at home (and then, damn!, for sure you will run into a beautiful home made cake, with jaw dropping frosting, baked and decorated by the very put together, full-time working mom of 3 who after work has time (and energy) to bake with her 7 and 5 year olds while juggling her toddler and talking with them about international politics.);
c) Admitting your inability to cook and your wanting to look good in front of your kid’s peers and their parents and begging Dad Vivant (who happens to be an amazing cook) to prepare something and promising you won’t take credit for it (if he can’t make it to the picnic, that is. No rules if he is not there to hear it, right?);
d) Just being yourself and trying to prepare some easy recipe that will show your little one that you care (even though you will end up going to bed way past after midnight, cursing under your breath that the spinach dip you prepared with your great-aunt’s secret recipe should not be this green because the kids are going to freak out when they see it).
So I decided to go with the latter and instead of preparing a very green spinach dip, I went with a traditional Spanish cake recipe that every family in Spain has baked or eaten at least once in their lives and that it’s easy enough that you could have your little one help you make it. We followed this recipe with some variations:
What you need for our version:
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup of yogurt (the recipe calls for plain yogurt, but we have used French Vanilla flavor and it works just fine)
– 2 cups of sugar
– 3 cups of flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
– 2/3 cups of olive oil
– 1 lemon
How to make it:
– Preheat oven at 350°F.
– Crack the eggs in a big bowl and whisk them (if you don’t have a metal whisk, a wooden spoon should do the trick) with the sugar.
– Add the yogurt and the oil and go on with the beat. The girls love doing this and, in fact, this whole part was done by Little Sous-Chef, who is 5.
– Adult part: grate the lemon and add it to the mix. The lemon really gives the cake a very subtle refreshing flavor. We also add the juice of half a lemon, to give it a bit of a kick. We have tried using vanilla extract instead of lemon (just because we had run out of lemons, not because we are cooking geniuses) and although the cake came out well, it was not as tasty. Mix well.
– Add the baking powder and the flour. You will have to sift it so the cake comes out fluffy. Little Sous-Chef loves this part, which I am happy for, because I feel it’s one of the most boring things on the planet. Keep on mixing.
– Dab some butter and sprinkle some flour (not much) on a cake mold, so the cake won’t stick to it.
– Put batter in the cake mold.
– Bake the cake for about 40-45 minutes. You know it’s completely baked when you put a knife through and it comes out clean.
– Cool and enjoy.
And to enjoy it, it pairs really nicely with strawberries and mint, and a nice chilled prosecco. How could you have some cake without prosecco, anyway?