French Lemon Yogurt Cake

Getting ready for baking

I've been hauling Dorie Greenspan's new book, Baking From My Home to Yours around the house (it's heavy) for weeks now. I look at it while I'm drinking my morning tea and I get all geared up to bake something. I take butter and eggs out of the fridge to come to room temperature and I turn on the oven.

And then my day happens. The butter sits there until dinner time, looking all sad and flaccid. That's when I face the fact that there'll be no baking today, again. I heft the book back upstairs for some bedtime reading, and I fall asleep dreaming of French Yogurt Cake.

I think the only reason I got around to making this cake today is that I had a half-cup of Total Greek yogurt left in the container, which is just exactly the required amount for this cake. So I seized the moment!

There are a few very nice things about this cake:

1. You don't need to soften butter.
2. There is no electric mixer needed.
3. You have to massage lemon zest into a bowl of sugar.

If you've never rubbed lemon zest between grains of sugar, you haven't lived. It's smells way better than that aromatherapy pillow I get to wear around my neck while I'm getting a pedicure.

Dorie's recipe calls for a lemon marmalade glaze, but I didn’t have any lemon marmalade, so I took her suggestion and topped it with a mixture of crème fraiche, lemon juice and confectioner's sugar. Somehow that makes it seem really French. She also says this cake is even better the next day. Great! I'll have a thick slice with my tea while I dream about my next baking project.

Lemon-Scented Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The author describes this simple cake as a cross between pound and sponge cake.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds, or substitute another 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
1/2 cup crème fraiche
2-3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center an oven rack and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan and place on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder and salt.

Put sugar in a large bowl with the zest and rub with your fingertips until sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisk until blended. Whisk in the oil. Add the flour mixture and fold with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Scrape the batter into pan and bake 50 - 55 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Run a blunt knife around edges before unmolding onto a rack to cool, right side up.

Combine crème fraiche, sugar and lemon juice and spoon over cake.

Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food


Kristen said...

I have been eyeing that recipe too...yours looks fantastic!

I take that book everywhere... I read it to my daughter at night, read it in the carpool line at school, dream about it at night. I love it!

Deborah Dowd said...

Your cake looks great! And the lemon zest and sugar seems therapeutic! I am going to try this one!


BTW: Your's is a great site and I have linked to it because it includes stories and recipes that I think would resonate with my readers. Great recipes and pictures (I am only just learning to photograph food, am I am findng that is about as easy as photographing a hyperactive two-year old!)

Nupur said...

ooohh...this is going to be my next baking project for sure! I think I will doctor it with some poppy seeds because V loves the lemon-poppy seed combination.

Anna said...

I can't believe you didn't have any lemon marmalade lying around.

Karen said...

Kristen, I'm glad I'm not the only one in need of cookbook addiction therapy!

Thanks for visiting Deborah. I hope you'll make this cake. It does taste even better the next day.

Poppy seeds would be a great addition, Nupur.

Anna, I know. I was a little shocked that I have jars of preserves like gingered orange marmalade, but not lemon. I feel so unprepared.

Liza said...

Safely at home on a snowy day, I decided to make this -- inspired by your photos! I baked it in a round 9" cake pan and am going to split it and fill it with something tomorrow before I take it to a friend's house for dinner. I don't know how I am going to keep my hands off it today!


Karen said...

Filling it like a layer cake? That sounds good. Try the lemon cream recipe on page 461 of the book. It's OUTRAGEOUS.

Liza. said...

I "cheated," sort of. I have the original cookbook and DG suggested treating it like a layer cake as a fancier option. Of course I fell for that. But now it won't come out of the cake pan.


Karen said...

Oh, that's not good. Maybe you can patch it up and put icing/cream on the outside.

I actually buttered and floured the pan, even though the DG's recipe doesn't. It's just a little insurance against sticking.

Liza said...

It did come out finally and all in one piece. I split it in half, slathered the middle with raspberry jam, then put down a layer of fresh raspberries before replacing the top layer. Then I coated it with slightly sweetened whipped cream and topped it with more raspberries.

It was delicious.