Monday, October 12, 2015

French Yogurt Cake

I've read about yogurt cake in beaucoup French books and memoirs. In Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, par exemple. And more recently in Elizabeth Bard's Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes. Both books make me a teensy bit wistful that I didn't pick up and move to the City of Light while in my 20s.

Anyhow, yogurt cake is a popular treat in France. It's often the first cake that les enfants learn to make and I can see why. No electric mixer needed. Most ingredients are always on hand. It's quick to put together, which means you don't have to wait long -- just a little over an hour really --- until you devour your slice. Of course, Mom or Dad should handle the lemon zesting.

French kids use the same 8 ounce yogurt cup to measure the sugar and flour. I couldn't find 8 ounce yogurt cups, so I bought a 24 ounce container, so Lucy, Penny and I could make this cake multiple times.

I adore this cake. It's quick. Simple. Sweet, but not too sweet. No icing required. Tastes even better the next day.


French Yogurt Cake
From Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
A large pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of one lemon
One 16-ounce can apricots, drained and quartered (Note: My store had 8-ounce cans only, so I got two of those.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter a 10-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, salt and vanilla, stirring or whisking until smooth. Add oil in a steady stream, while whisking to combine. Add eggs one by one, whisking to combine after each one.

In smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture little by little to the yogurt mixture, whisking along the way to combine. Stir in lemon zest. Pour cake mixture into prepared cake  pan. Top with chopped apricots.

Bake on center rack for 45 minutes, until golden brown and slightly risen; a toothpick inserted in the center should  come out clean.

Lift cake by parchment paper and place on wire rack to cool.

This cake is even better the second day -- provided it sticks around that long. It gets more moist as it sits.

Elizabeth Bard points out in her book that this cake is a "blank canvas" that you can  make  your own based on the fruits you like or have in your fridge at the time. Try fresh raspberries or pears sprinkled with brown sugar, she suggests.

My girls enjoyed this cake. They ate it several mornings for breakfast -- with a banana on the side, so no judgment. But they didn't love the apricots and asked that next time I try peaches instead, so that's what I did the second time around. I used canned peaches (in juices, not syrup), drained and chopped. I sprinkled some cinnamon over the peaches as I would when making a peach cobbler.

Verdict: The girls preferred the cake with peaches; I liked the apricot version better.

Bottom  line: This is a great go-to dessert for any day of the week. I plan to make it beaucoup times.

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