While my family and I were in France recently, my dear friend, clever cook and long-time mentor Daniele Delpeuch came to stay with her grandaughter Lou. I first met Lou as a tiny baby some 12 years ago. Like her grandmother and her mother she loves to cook, and before you could say “voudrais-tu du thé?” (fancy a cup of tea?) Lou was in the kitchen whipping up a cake for us to enjoy.
I watched in fascination as she took a container of yoghurt, emptied it into a mixing bowl and then proceeded to use the empty yoghurt pottle to measure a few other storecupbard ingredients – one container of oil, two of sugar, three of flour, three eggs, some rising agent and lemon zest. In the blink of an eye the cake was in the oven and it wasn’t long before the kitchen was filled with the mouthwatering aroma of home baking.
This simplest of recipes is known in France as a One, Two, Three Cake. The formula is simple enough to carry round in your head and you can whip it up in a flash with no fancy kit or tricky methods. It produces a light cake with a fine moist crumb and a tenderness and light tang from the yoghurt.
When I got back to my own kitchen in Wanaka I couldn't resist playing around with the recipe to see if I could add my own twist. I decided to try using lemon yoghurt for an extra citrussy flavour boost and came up with my One, Two, Three Lemon Cake – even more delicious! You'll find the recipe here.
It's just one of the simple and delicious recipes I've put together for the We Are What We Eat website that's launched here in New Zealand recently. It's jam packed with a whole batch of new recipes I've specially designed to help you spend less time in the kitchen and more around the table with your family and friends. You can check them out here.
The heritage of this recipe got me thinking about the wonderful way that cooking connects us and how, in the case of a simple recipe like this, its sheer simplicity invites confidence and success.
Family recipes that are passed down become a legacy and this recipe has been passed down through Lou’s family and is now part of her family history. She will always carry it around with her, creating her own memories as she makes it for different people in different places – in this case us! I know we will all remember that day because of that cake – it was the glue that brought us together to share across the boundaries of language and culture, a special moment of connection. That sense of connectivity and belonging made us all feel good and is another memory to add to the treasure chest of memories associated with this recipe now. I love the way food can do that.
Win a set of French yoghurt pottles
I was fascinated to discover that in France single-serve yoghurts often come in charming ceramic or glass pottles – even just in the chiller at the supermarket or gas station! Washed out after use they make great coffee cups or ramekins for individual servings of chocolate mousse or chilled cream desserts. I liked them so much I couldn't bear to throw them in the bin, so I packed a few into my suitcase when I came home.