ispahan yogurt cake

i’m a big fan of mixing berries into yogurt cakes, and the other day, i started wondering about why i haven’t seen lychees incorporated into the batter of baked cakes?  that same day, k got back from toulouse with reports of having spotted ispahan flavored tea in the carrefour…and eureka! i decided to make an ispahan yogurt cake.

before starting, i took a look at pierre herme’s website and located his ispahan cake. the description mentions only  raspberry and rose flavors, no lychee — i wonder why?   if you click on his cake photo, a cross section pops up showing six studs of what appear to be raspberry or rose gelee inside, rather than the fruit directly.  dorie greenspan gives a recipe for pierre herme’s ispahan loaf cake in her latest book, around my french table; though her version uses fresh raspberries rather than the gelee.  i must get my hands on a loaf the next time i’m in paris to figure out what’s going on inside.

at any rate, i decided to make my version with lychees and all.  i thought it came out well for an initial trial experiment — fragrant, exotic.   i’m thinking next time, i might do a version in which the cake is raspberry flavored with rose gelee baked inside instead.

and yes, lychees can be incorporated into cake batter.  they bake quite well, remaining rather plump and moist when protected inside layers of cake.

Ispahan Yogurt Cake v. 1.0
(makes 1 nine inch loaf cake)

Dry Ingredients
Flour 270 g (2 cups)
Sugar 180 g (slightly less than 1 cup)
Baking powder 1 ½ tsp
Baking soda ½ tsp
Wet Ingredients
Eggs 2 large ones
Yogurt 250 ml (1 cup)
Canola Oil 80 ml (1/3 cup)
Rose Syrup 2 tbsp; PH recommends the Monin brand, which can be found online or at many coffee supply shops
Rose Essence 1/2 tsp; i purchased mine at Sur La Table
Fruit
Fresh Raspberries 1/2 cup
Fresh or Canned Lychees 12-15 lychees (about half a can)
  1. Butter and flour a loaf pan.  Set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until evenly combined.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. With the mixer set at the lowest speed (you can mix by hand as well), slowly pour in all the wet ingredients.  Beat together until just combined. Do not overmix or else the cake will become chewy.
  5. Pour 1/3 of the batter into cake pan, layer raspberries and lychees into the batter, keeping them away from the edges.  Pour 1/3 of batter above the fruit, and lay down another layer of fruit into the batter.  Finally pour the remaining batter on top to cover all the fruit.
  6. Bake at 350º F for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 – 20 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan (you’ll get a fantastic whiff of rose scent when the cake pops out of the pan!)
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