Easiest Way to Make Yogurt

A few years ago, I was searching the internet for ways to make my own yogurt. A few friends had told me it was super easy and encouraged me to give it a try, so I did. It was a disaster.

If you know the basic concept of yogurt making, you know the temperature of the milk has to stay within a range so that the good bacteria will grow and turn your milk into yogurt. There are various methods suggested online to try to do just that.  I tried using the oven-method. My oven’s lowest temperatures were too hot. I tried using the crock-pot method. That didn’t work out either. Again, the lowest setting was too hot. I certainly did not want to spend money on a yogurt-maker so I just threw my hands up in the air and had given up, but not for long. A visit to an old Afghan friend a few months later changed all of that.

After the amazing meal my friend’s lovely wife had made for us, he gave me some of his homemade yogurt. It was delicious. I relayed my woes in attempting to make my own yogurt and he laughed and said, “Luisa, Luisa, Luisa, you taking the scenic route. Too complicated, too complicated.” He then proceeded to tell me how he does it. His is an old, traditional way that doesn’t require the fancy equipment of our modern lifestyle, but it works!! I followed his method the next week and I finally made yogurt! I have been using this same method ever since.

My Afghan friend’s method requires nothing more than milk, some store-bought plain yogurt (or get some from a friend), a liquid thermometer, and a heavy, thick blanket. Now, my friend never uses a thermometer and told me just to let the milk get to almost boiling and then cool it down to where you put your finger in it and it is still hot, but you don’t burn yourself. That seemed like a good way for me to screw it up, so I use a liquid thermometer, but feel free to try it that way if you’d like.

So what is his secret for keeping the yogurt incubated at the right temperature? It is the nice thick blanket. If your house is on the cold side you might want to use two blankets which is what I do in the winters here in PA. If your house stays on the warm side, you may only need one thick blanket, but you can use two if you want to play safe. It is simple. It is easy. I was skeptical about it working, but a batch of yogurt later, my skepticism was gone.

In the recipe below I give measurements, but the beautiful thing about yogurt is that the measurements do not have to be perfect for it to work. Sometimes I use a quart of milk and sometimes a little bit less than a quart if I don’t have quite enough. And I never measure out the  starter (pre-made yogurt). I just take a big glop of my already made yogurt and mix it into the milk.  Thankfully, I have not had a bad batch yet. So go ahead, give it a try!!

Homemade Yogurt
Print Recipe
This recipe was adapted from an Afghan friend's recipe who makes the yogurt the way his family made it in Afghanistan. No fancy equipment needed except for a kitchen thermometer. My friend does not use a thermometer, but I do to play it safe.
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 2 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 2 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 24 hours
Homemade Yogurt
Print Recipe
This recipe was adapted from an Afghan friend's recipe who makes the yogurt the way his family made it in Afghanistan. No fancy equipment needed except for a kitchen thermometer. My friend does not use a thermometer, but I do to play it safe.
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 2 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 2 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 24 hours
Ingredients
Main Ingredients
Supplies
Servings: quart
Instructions
  1. Heat about a quart of milk in a pot constantly stirring (so it doesn't burn on the bottom) and bring the temperature to 180 degrees. Let the milk cool to about 125 degrees.
  2. Once you reached the 125 degree mark, transfer the milk to the mason jar and add the tbsp of pre-made yogurt (this is called the starter). Mix it well into the milk.
  3. Seal the jar tightly and wrap the container with the heavy blanket. If your house stays pretty cool, make that two blankets (You can't use too many). Now set your bundle in a part of the house where it will not be disturbed for the next 24 hours and leave it. Once the 24 hours have passed, open the mason jar and your yogurt should be ready. Refrigerate. If you want a thicker yogurt, strain it through a cheese cloth otherwise it can be eaten as is. That is it! You are done!
Recipe Notes

This recipe can easily be doubled with mason jars, just add the starter (tbsp of pre-made yogurt into each mason jar with milk).

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“Unicorn” Rose Swirl Cake

We recently celebrated my daughter’s five-year-old birthday party and her theme of choice was unicorns. As we planned each detail, she and I came up with a beautiful birthday cake that got a lot of praises both for the design and the taste. A few of my friends have asked me for the recipe, so I thought it would be a good idea to share not only the recipes, but instructions on how to put this baby together. I am not a baker so I had to do a lot of google searches to make this happen, but hopefully my blog will provide you a one-stop shop so you don’t have to do your own research.

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you probably know that I like healthy eating. And in the past, I have made whole grain cakes, sprouted grain cakes, cakes with spinach, etc. However, I need to warn you, that is not the case for this cake. I threw in the towel and decided that this is a once a year event and I wasn’t going to worry about the excess sugar, color dye toxins, nor the evils of white flour. Although I used mostly organic ingredients and replaced some of the ingredients for healthier options, it is still a not-so-good-for-you cake, but it was sooooooo good!

Well this delicious cake was a chocolate cake because, simply, that is what my five-year-old requested. I do not use some secret family recipe that was passed on through the generations nor did I develop some amazing recipe (Did I mention that I am not a baker?). Nope. This recipe was taken from the back of a Hershey cocoa box. A few years back I had used that same recipe and I remembered people loved it so there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Thankfully for me, that recipe is still printed on their cocoa powder boxes and you can also access it online. Hershey’s own “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” Chocolate Cake Recipe is to die for and I highly recommend it.

In order to make my three layered 8″ cake, I had to double the recipe (and use the left overs to make cupcakes). I used mostly organic ingredients with the exception of the Hershey cocoa and the baking powder/soda. I also substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil. (TIP: If you do use coconut oil, I recommend you warm up the milk so the oil does not clump up.) Once you are done with the cakes, put them in the fridge for a few hours before putting on the icing. Trust me, it will make your life easier.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a cream cheese frosting because I genuinely dislike buttercream icing. At first, I was not sure if cream cheese frosting would work well for the details my five-year-old wanted on her cake, but after a little google search, I came across this recipe that uses cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lots of powdered sugar. The recipe worked well for all the decorations just as the author said it would. Make sure to follow her advice to keep the icing from getting too warm in your hands. It makes a difference. You will either need to make two batches or double the recipe to frost the cake and for the filling. However, if you want enough for the cupcakes I mentioned above and maybe to give yourself a little wiggle room, buy enough ingredients for three batches.

I cannot take too much credit for the design of the cake because I had a lot of help from a very intentional five-year-old girl. As she and I perused through Pinterest, we couldn’t find a design we both agreed on. Instead we pulled our favorite details from various cakes to come up with her “perfect” unicorn cake (Feel free to look at our Pinterest board to see where we got our inspiration). Notice that our unicorn cake does not have a unicorn anywhere near it, but my five-year-old felt the color scheme is what made it special. The final product fit perfectly with her party decorations and motif and more importantly, she was thrilled with it.

To actually decorate the cake, you want to first cover the cake with frosting. Roses line the sides and the top is covered with multi-colored jimmies. The roses are actually called “rose swirls” as I found out. To fit four rows, I used the equivalent of a Wilton 129 drop flower tip. If you want larger roses, you can use a Wilton 2D tip (the 2D works better for the cupcakes). I recommend you get at least four tips so that you can have several bags of frosting ready to go. It will allow you to move easily from one color to the next. I didn’t have the extra tips so I had to finish one color, wash the tip, and move on to the next color. It was a bit of a pain. This video shows you exactly how to do the swirls and it is as easy as it looks. Just practice a couple of times before you put it on the cake.

Well friends, that is basically it. I hope you enjoy making this cake and good luck!

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