We started a book club. First we read Barbarians at the Gate. Today, I’m going to The Strand to pick up Den of Thieves by James Stewart, our next book. See a theme? No? Both are about Wall Street in the 1980s. Greed, corruption, schmoozing, expensive parties, manipulation, etc. Topical, despite being 25 years in the past.
I have too much of an independent streak normally to be in a book club. But when the chance came to read not just about greed, corruption, and schmoozing but also about leveraged buyouts, stock options, and junk bonds with a group of people who’d be willing to discuss the dry details with me, I couldn’t resist.
Last time I was in a book group, I had a similarly intellectual goal. I was in Paris, and we read Guy de Maupassant and drank red wine. The guys in that book club later went on to found this company, so perhaps there was something foodie in the red wine besides scraps of the pot-au-feu they made for us to eat over Franglish-y discussions.
I joined that book club around the time that I was immersed in my very first food blog addiction, Chocolate and Zucchini. Especially since I was in Paris for the semester, I loved reading Clothilde’s recipes and about her market finds and restaurant picks. I started baking her yogurt cake that fall, and I’ve never stopped.
For this financial-themed book club, I transformed the original yogurt batter into bite-sized cakes, which I studded with blackberries I’d gotten at the farm stand last weekend. The berries turned out to be a little too sour to eat on their own, despite my great hopes for them. So I tossed them with some sugar and baked them for just a couple minutes until they sank into the vanilla-scented batter and turned sweet and rich–but not as rich as Barbarians at the Gate‘s Ross Johnson.
More fruity cakes and muffins for summer baking:
Cherry Cornmeal Cake from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Orange Marmalade Muffins from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Raspberry Lemon Cake from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Best Blackberry Pie from Not Derby Pie
Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Bundt from Smitten Kitchen
Bite-Sized Blackberry Brown Sugar Cakes
These are best within a couple hours of being made–really, they’re best almost straight from the oven. So, plan accordingly.
1/2 cup whole or low-fat yogurt (don’t use non-fat)
2 medium eggs
scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup safflower or other neutral oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup blackberries tossed with 1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease one 24-cup mini muffin tin well, or line the cups with mini muffin liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yogurt with the oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla with a whisk or rubber spatula. (No need to haul out the mixer.) In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients gently into the wet ones.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way up. Depending on the size of your blackberries, you may have to halve them to get 24 (I did–mine were enormous!). Stick a whole or halved blackberry into the center of each cake.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cakes are puffed and golden around the edges. A toothpick inserted into the cakes should come out clean. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then use a butter knife or offset spatula to a rack or plate. Eat immediately, or at least soon-ish.