Four years ago I was in Paris, hoppity skipping around the Stade de France and Parc des Princes in the name of work. A lucky break meant I got a job working at the Rugby World Cup, reporting on the efforts of the Samoa team (until they got knocked out of the tournament) and bossing around a motley crew of international journalists at matches in Paris. It was the best of times (It was Paris. Need I say more?), it was the worst of times (you try going to a press conference and asking questions in French about a sport you know nothing about, or dealing with pouty French men who won’t do what they’re told by a stroppy Antipodean).
I’d never been remotely interested in le rugby, in fact I’d gone out of my way to avoid it. But in Paris it became a great passport: “Ah, vous etes neo-zelandaise? Allez les All Blacks!” It was all great fun, until France beat New Zealand in the quarter-final. Actually, that’s a lie. It was still fun after that. Tomorrow night, the two teams face each other again. I won’t be sitting in a bar in Paris, but I will be eating slices of this classic French cake. It’s the least I can do…
French Yoghurt Cake – Gateau Yaourt
If you believe everything you read, gateau yaourt is the sort of cake that every French housewife makes (presumably in between flirting with the butcher, telling off the baker, having a torrid affair with the milkman, wearing Chanel No.5 and not getting fat). It’s very simple to make and usually flavoured with rum (or “rrrrhuuum”). This version, adapted from Susan Loomis’ ‘On Rue Tatin’, is a bit fancier thanks to the addition of melted chocolate. The end result is supposed to be a bit more marbled than the one pictured, but things don’t always go to plan. Ask les All Blacks.
200g plain flour
3/4tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
finely grated zest of one orange
125ml (1/2 cup) plain, full-fat yoghurt
120g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
90g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 190C and grease and line a 24cm tin. Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and beat in, then fold in the yoghurt and melted butter. Pour half the batter into the prepared tin, then add the melted chocolate to the remaining batter. Mix well, then pour this into the cake tin. Swirl the mixtures together with a flat knife to marble. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake passes the skewer test and bounces back slightly when you touch it. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Bon weekend, tout le monde et bonne chance aux joueurs!