The way some people feel about the Superbowl, I feel about the Oscars; it’s my favorite occasion to lounge around, eat continuously, and yell out things at the t.v.
I’ve been watching the Academy Awards for as long as I can remember, and I don’t think I’ve ever missed a year; even when I lived in France, I conveniently happened to be visiting the United States the week it aired.
Hosting gaffes and celebrity culture aside, I think the reason I keep tuning in is because movies have always been my second love. I was brought up on classic films like “Sabrina” and “Guys and Dolls,” and some of my happiest childhood memories involve singing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein movies.
I remember when I found out that Nora Ephron, the late film extraordinaire who created “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” had been a journalist before she became a screenwriter. Reading those words inspired me, as I had always secretly wanted to write a screenplay of my own. I (not so secretly) hope one day, maybe I’ll have the chance to attend the Oscars.
Until then, I’m content with watching from the comfort of my living room. I invited a few friends over for the occasion, and made a pizza and yogurt cake.
I’ve been craving yogurt cake since I came across the recipe in “Lunch in Paris.” I’ve wanted to make something lemon-y and moist for awhile, but didn’t wanted to settle for standard blueberry muffins or pound cake. I wanted something light, fluffy, and moist, and that’s exactly what this cake delivered.
You can top the cake however you want, but I decided to cut up peach halves for the garnish.
Also, a word to the wise: be careful with parchment paper. Somehow, a bit of the excess paper managed to fall off the pan in the oven and started making sounds like a summer camp bonfire. Needless to say, my friends and I were worried.
I thought the pizza was going to be more work than the cake, but it ended up being less strenuous. I think making pizza dough is half the battle, and so to cut out some leg work, I bought a bag of frozen dough from Whole Foods.
Then, I followed directions from Annie’s Eats to thaw and prep the dough for baking. The prep work is crucial to making good pizza, but luckily it’s not labor intensive. All you have to do is put your dough in the refrigerator the morning you’re planning to make the pizza.
Then, thirty minutes prior to baking, you can preheat the oven and set the dough on the counter to come to room temperature.
My oven is notoriously finicky, and I was worried the bottom of my pizza would end up charcoal black.
But somehow, miraculously, the oven managed to stay at 500 degrees for the entire pizza-making process, and produced a perfectly cooked pizza; fluffy and slightly chewy with a crispy, golden crust.
I topped my pizza with pesto, goat cheese, mushroom and mozzarella; a mix of things in my refrigerator. Because the pizza making process was so much easier than I expected, I’m excited to make another one, soon…I think next time, I’ll try butternut squash and caramelized onions.
Yogurt Cake (slightly adapted from “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard):
1 cup plain yogurt (Bard said to use whole milk; I used nonfat Greek yogurt)
1 cup sugar
A large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon (don’t skimp on zest)
One 16-ounce can of peach halves, drained and quartered
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 10-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, salt and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Add the eggs one by one, whisking to incorporate after each addition.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda; add to the yogurt mixture; whisk lightly to combine. Stir in the lemon zest.
Transfer the batter to your cake pan; top with the chopped peaches. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and slightly risen. A toothpick in the center should come out clean.
Lift the cake by the parchment paper onto a wire rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
To store, cover the fully cooled cake with aluminum foil. Bard said not use a plastic airtight container because it would make the cake soggy, but I put a few slices in a container and they were still fluffy and moist the next day.