Lemon & Poppy Seed Yogurt Loaf and a visit to Graze, Brighton with Chobani

by - January 21, 2014

I love yogurt me. And as much as I love piles of thick, fatty Greek yogurt, drizzled with honey and pistachios, I also love my hips so I opt for low-fat versions on a day to day basis (bad foodie). And what a sad old market the low-fat yogurt isle is. If it isn't synthetic tasting (does anyone like artificial sweetener??) it's weak and watery and well... not piles of thick, fatty Greek yogurt with honey and nuts.

Chobani contacted me and I have to admit their offer of taking me to Graze in Brighton for a specially created menu using their product was all too tempting. I've wanted to try that restaurant in like, forever. And you know what, if the chefs here are happy to use the product (in cocktails, sauces, sorbets, panna cotta, as a tart filling...) then it's good enough for my kitchen too. They went to town on the menu but standout was the Lamb Rack and Lamb Belly with Chobani almond barley, olive, confit tomato and fennel and an incredible Treacle Sponge with Chobani sorbet, candy bacon and a bacon and vanilla foam. I can't wait to revisit them for dinner soon.

As well as being pretty delicious, thick and on the whole fat-free, it doesn't taste of artificial sweetener like their main UK competitor or have any odd thickeners or other chemistry set stuff. Chobani is a strained yogurt, high in protein and is clearly ideal to cook with. My pet hate with cooking with yogurt is that it splits and curdles, something which Chobani shouldn't do as most of the water is removed during the straining process. What also interested me (and my hips) is that you can in theory substitute things like butter, oil and cream in recipes, and they give you a handy conversion chart and information on their website.

Low-fat substitutions have always seemed too much of a taste sacrifice ("Here, have this frozen banana instead of this lovely gelato, it's practically the same." "Er, no.") but this yogurt is so thick and creamy I was willing to give it a go. The proof is in the pudding as they say, but as I'm on some crazy baking bender at the moment, I'll be testing the theory out with some lemon and poppy seed cakes.

Well. Maths isn't my strong point and Batch #1 of the Lemon and Poppy Seed muffins were a disaster because I ended up doubling the liquid part of the recipe in my conversion. I got a B in GCSE maths amazingly. Totally fluked that one.

Batch #2 was correct but the muffins were heavy, close textured and frankly, just horrible. I created the world's first inedible cake.

Batch #3 (I'm clearly determined to make this work) was much better. I hadn't used the muffin base recipe before so wasn't sure it was a duff recipe or the yogurt, so I used my fail-safe Victoria sponge recipe as a lemon and poppy seed loaf. This was so much better. As there is far more butter used anyway, by halving it and adding some yogurt, you almost didn't notice the difference. I think the muffins had such little butter in them (15g), halving it to almost nothing didn't give the cake any lightnesss. They also had too much yogurt overall (110g as the recipe already called for yogurt, plus some for the aforementioned butter substitution). You need SOME fat in baking, it's just incredible you can halve it by adding some Chobani.

I'm sure the loaf recipe would work as muffins, just adjust the cooking time for them.

For some reason, Chobani's PR are targeting lifestyle and fashion bloggers (I must have slipped the net) so would have been more interesting to see people using and commenting on it from a food angle rather than reading post after post about it being "yummy". The fruit versions really are, erm, yummy however, I really do think that the plain Chobani product is a useful thing to have in the fridge for cooking. And, if you are hot on your maths, then a great ingredient to successfully substitute traditional fats for. Your arse will love you for it.


Lemon & Poppy Seed Yogurt Loaf
175g of self raising flour 
1tsp baking powder
175g golden caster sugar 
85g butter, softened
45g Chobani plain strained yogurt
1tbs poppy seeds
Finely grated lemon zest 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon (40ml)
3 eggs
Few drops of vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a small loaf tin.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients and beat thoroughly until smooth. (I always use my trusty KitchenAid mixer with the beater attachment for a minute or two)

Pour into the loaf tin, smooth/even the surface of the mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen, golden and a clean knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

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