For years I've kept notebooks where I write down unforgettable meals. A cocktail we had in Thailand I intend to recreate one day, a soup we ate in Laos, an avocado and grapefruit salad, and a cold cucumber soup that Fanny made me in France some 15 or more years ago that I haven't forgotten....
Sometimes I write recipes down and keep them for decades. The one pictured above dates back to a summer spent in Spain when I was about 19 years old. That year I worked as an au pair on the Costa Brava for two little girls.
One day while we took a break from swimming, their mom said, "let's teach Nicole to make a coca dulce" and out came the ingredients onto the counter. The girls were excited. It's one of those easy going but genuinely good cakes that it is a part of the repertoire of many kids or teenagers all over France, Spain and Italy (see a beautiful Italian version here courtesy of Amelia).
I hadn't made a coca since so many years ago in Spain, but this winter, with a steady flow of friends coming over for play dates, I found myself thinking of it. I searched my paper archives for the recipe and there it was. I stuck it up on the refrigerator and started to turn out cocas in all shapes and sizes. I also used muffin tins, mini bundt molds. Then I started to make different varieties. This time I added poppy seeds. There was also a variation with coconut. It helped me work my way through a 5 liter jug of Tuscan olive oil. Everyone loves this cake, and I hope you will too.
Coca Dulce or Yogurt and Olive Oil Cake
To measure you will use the container that the yogurt comes in. My yogurt container contains 6 ounces (170 grams), but the recipe will work with a slightly larger yogurt container. This is a great cake to have as a snack or even in the morning as a treat instead of your normal breakfast.
1 container of yogurt (I make my own yogurt using whole milk.)
1 container full of oil (I always use olive, but the original Spanish cake was made with sunflower oil.)
2 containers full of sugar (I use cane sugar.)
3 containers full of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of one lemon (Make sure it's organic if available, or wash the skin well.)
Optional: 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds. If desired, top the cake with cinnamon and sugar before baking
Mix together the yogurt, eggs, oil and sugar. Sift the sugar and baking powder into this mixture, then add the lemon zest. Pour into your cake mold, muffin or loaf pan (grease pans if necessary) and bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 30 minutes (bake time will vary depending on the size of your cake(s) and your oven). Check periodically. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean and it is slightly brown on top.
1) For a coconut cake, substitute one measure of sugar with shredded, unsweetened yogurt
2) For a chocolate cake, substitute one measure of the flour with powdered chocolate for baking (omit the lemon rind)
3) For an orange and almond cake, use orange rind instead of lemon and substitute one measure of flour with ground almonds