If I never make another cake in my life, that's fine. This is it. My cake. One I hopefully will make again and again--varying the flavors, adding berries, nuts. I honestly can't wait to bake it again. Just right. There really is not very much to it--not very sweet and simple. This yogurt cake is tender and moist. It's rich but much lighter than a pound cake. It's perfectly infused with lemon flavor--great with berries, whipped cream, or on its own. I had a slice for breakfast, but I would enjoy this cake for dessert, tea, or anytime.
I read about this cake on several blogs and knew that I had to try it--almost anything with yogurt appeals to me. This is a very common cake in France and the measuring is done in French yogurt cups (about 1/2 cup). Sweet! It is very simple--no mixer involved. It's finished with a lemon syrup that gives the top a nice glaze of flavor and sweetness.
My version is a combination of a recipe from Orangette (a truly delicious blog) and a recipe in Greenspan's Baking (yet another winner!). They both offer tempting variations that I'll definitely be trying soon:
1. Layer as a strawberry shortcake--cut horizontally and spread with whipped cream, jam, and strawberries.
2. Almond: substitute 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup ground, blanched almonds.
3. Omit lemon, add vanilla or orange.
4. Add fresh or frozen fruit and/or nuts: Spread 2/3 batter in pan; top with berries; cover with remaining batter. (You don't have to thaw berries if frozen.)
5. Layer with lemon cream, curd, or jam and frost with sweetened whipped cream.
6. Top with chocolate sauce or chocolate mousse.
7. Try olive oil instead of canola.
8. Glaze with warmed and strained marmalade or apricot jam (with almond version) thinned with a teaspoon of water.
9. My variation: replace some of the flour with cocoa for a chocolate version.
And a new favorite yogurt! Straus yogurt was on sale at Whole Foods and I decided to try it. It has a very nice flavor and consistency--and no pectins added. This is what I used for my cake. Continue for recipe.
French Yogurt Cake with Lemon
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest (from 1-2 lemons)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 t vanilla (optional)
1/2 cup canola oil
For the glaze:
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9x2 round cake pan (or use a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla to the sugar and mix until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Add the oil, and stir until smooth.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
When the cake is cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.