I am at the supermarket, standing in front of the milk, cream and yoghurt fridge. To my left, an elderly man lifts his glasses so he can read the small print on the side of a tub of Greek yoghurt. He asks me if it is magro (low-fat), and I tell him it is. To my right, a woman a bit older than me is checking the dates on the milk, reaching deeper and deeper between the bottles, which are swaying like skittles, until she comes to one she is happy with. Only she doesn’t leave; instead, she gestures to the space she has created, an invitation for me to take a bottle with a long date, too. I don’t need milk, but I am always keen to join in, so take a litre anyway, as well as a twin pack of yoghurt. “Magro?” asks the man, still holding his pot. No, I tell him; the one I am holding is intero (whole).
As if there isn’t enough going on in front of the fridge, a man in a spotty face mask and wearing technical leggings crashes his trolley into the metal base of the fridge. It isn’t intentional, just careless. It makes all of us jump, especially the yoghurt man, who drops his pot, which hits the floor hard, splitting the foil and sending a fat blob of yoghurt streaking across the floor like one of those capsules from a paint gun.
I have plenty of experience of dropping things in supermarkets (just last week, two glass bottles escaped from a cardboard four-pack), and also of seeing things dropped, so I am familiar with the gasp and minor drama. But the careless trolley crash and the fact it was an elderly man with flecks of white on his shoe feels especially dramatic. The young man in the spotty mask apologises profusely and rummages in his pockets, I assume for tissues, which he doen’t find, then grabs two litres of milk and rushes off saying something about parking.
Having already connected over long-date milk, the woman and I bond in our mutual shock and mild outrage, her tissues and my wiping. Another man joins us with wet wipes and some perspective (apparently, the young man was also pushy at the vegetables section), as does a guy from the supermarket with a mop. Soon, the small drama is cleared up and we can all move on.
I went home and made a yoghurt cake – you probably know the one. Or maybe you know it as Nigella’s cake, or gâteau au yaourt, or Italian or Ukrainian yoghurt cake – or the seven-pot cake, which is the ideal name because seven is a wonderful and memorable number and the best synthesis of a recipe.
I am going to stick my neck out and say this is not only the easiest and most efficient cake, but one of the best, too, especially 15 minutes after it has come out of the oven, so the chocolate chips are still slightly soft and the crumb warm. I am glad to say there was a moment of reconciliation before we (me, the milk woman, yoghurt man and wet wipe man) moved on, when we acknowledged our small, shared experience in the fridge section. What’s more, the milk woman pointed out that the bottles the young man had grabbed were from the front row (short dates), while the old man told us he was only buying what his doctor told him to, and that he didn’t like low-fat yoghurt, anyway.
Chocolate chip and yoghurt ring cake
1 x 125ml pot plain whole yoghurt (keep the pot)
3 x pots plain flour
1 x pot caster sugar
1 x pot chocolate chips
1 x pot olive oil
2 tsp baking powder
Pour and scape the contents of the yoghurt pot into a large bowl. Wash and dry the pot, then use it to measure out the flour, caster sugar, chocolate chips and olive oil, adding them all to the bowl. Add the eggs and baking powder, and beat everything really, really well.
Pour the mixture into a 22-23cm buttered/floured ring tin (or 2lb loaf tin) and bake for 35-40 minutes in the middle of the oven heated to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, or until a piece of spaghetti inserted into the centre comes out clean (except for the chocolate).