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Baking with Greek yogurt: A classic vanilla cake

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Despite the recent recall mishap, Greek yogurt remains as one of our refrigerator staples. The creamy texture, naturally occurring probiotics, and higher protein content keep us coming back for more, regardless of the brand. But what if you could use Greek yogurt in more ways than the traditional, pop-the-lid-and-eat method?

You can, and the creamy texture makes it a great substitute for a handful of fat-filled counterparts, such as sour cream, creme fraiche, and even heavy cream. The substitute in classic cake recipes is especially fun, as you can use flavored varieties to add a little extra kick to the batter. First, lets break down the four main ingredients in a cake to see how it works.

Basic cakes are comprised of leavening ingredients, sweetener, protein, and fats. In supermarket terms, that is flour and baking soda or powder, sugar, eggs, oils or butter, and milk or other dairy ingredient (buttermilk, sour cream, etc). It is the interaction of these ingredients together that result in the cakes that we love, whether muffins, layer cakes, fluffy cookies, or others.

When you "mess up" a recipe, one of these items was either missing or over done in some capacity. The role of the "sour" ingredients, or the buttermilk, sour cream, or even Greek yogurt interact with the leavening agents and the proteins to make a fluffier and moist end result. Don’t be fooled, adding more of the “fat” won’t necessarily make the cake fluffier; it is the correct combination of each of these ingredients that make the perfect cake.

So what is the perk to using Greek yogurt? Believe it or not, even the fat-free varieties prove to be a satisfying substitute. I love adding the blueberry or strawberry varieties to classic white or vanilla cakes for a hint of flavor, without the extra calories.

A homemade cake is better enjoyed guilt free than alternatives laden with ingredients we cannot pronounce and added sugars that pack on pounds. The classic vanilla cake recipe below is the perfect example, using a low calorie oil for the fat, and greek yogurt to fluff it up.

Classic Vanilla Cake
makes 1 - 8” cake or 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flavorless oil (canola)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for cupcakes, or 325 for a single cake. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 2 minutes.
Mix in the greek yogurt until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth. The batter is ready for any additions at this time.

Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cook longer, about 30 minutes for a single cake.

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