Feb 23, 2009

French Yogurt Cake

Pin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Can you think of anything better than baking on a Sunday when the rain and wind beat so hard against the windows that the


makes you pull your old sweater around you tighter? I didn’t think so. If I had gotten through the day without turning the oven on, I am certain some kind of culinary police would have come pounding at my door. If not for that, then because of the sweet, cakey air drifting from my kitchen that could have drawn in the entire city.

Some rainy days make you want to putter for hours in the kitchen, but others call for something with a quick preparation that allows you to get back to your big, cozy chair and your copy of The Tenth Muse as soon as humanly possible. In her memoir, Judith Jones (in addition to regaling me with stories of her years as a legendary cookbook editor) creates such vivid pictures of the French countryside that I have been choking back tears for not yet having traveled there. So I figured the best I could do was to crank up some Josephine Baker and throw together a cake well-loved by the French that is incredibly, deliciously simple. So simple, in fact, that the batter comes together in just one bowl, is mixed by hand, and traditional recipes for it call for the ingredients to be measured in “jars” rather than “cups”–meaning the jars that many wonderful French yogurts come packaged in, like the one in this blurry photo:

Although I opted to use my boring old American 1/2 cup measure, I added extra interest to the basic French yogurt cake recipe by adding vanilla extract and a scraped vanilla bean. And now would be an opportune time to admit to something in the kitchen at which I am completely inept–scraping vanilla beans. No matter how I do it, no matter how sharp my knife or how carefully I scrape out the seeds, the pods end up in gnarled shards, the fragrant pulp shmeared into my board, and I end up having to pick woody bits of pod out of my batters or frostings and trying to furiously flick seeds from my fingertips into the bowl. Witness the carnage:

Vanilla bean snafus aside, this cake is a winner. And so versatile–great with ice cream, flavored whipped cream, any kind of fruit or dessert sauce. Or eaten out of hand with a paper towel as a plate while standing at the counter, watching the rain through your rattling kitchen window.

Gateau au Yaourt a la Vanille
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg

Makes one single layer, 9-inch cake

1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and the seeds of the vanilla bean until well-blended. Stir in the flour and baking soda until the batter just starts to come together–there will be some small lumps and that’s okay. Pour in the oil and whisk the batter until it is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 32-35 minutes, until the cake is an even, deep golden brown, springy to the touch, and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes before turning it out onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

  • I made this cake last week – so fantastic and easy. It reminded me of a big madeline cookie. So – now I am thinking that this could be made into a big chocolate madeline cake. Would I just add cocoa powder? Any thoughts would be helpful. Would love to make it for a dinner party tomorrow night.

  • So sorry for the delay in response! There are very few cases where chocolate won’t be delicious, right? If I were to make a chocolate version, I would swap out some of the flour for cocoa powder (say 1/3 cup to start), the darkest I could find, such as Valrhona, until I got the intensity I wanted. Report back!

  • Trying it tomorrow for yet another dinner – I’ll let you know how it goes. I also passed your blog (and this recipe specifically) to a few friends and they have all tried and LOVED it. My mother in law made 2 layers and served it to her co-workers….they went crazy! Thanks, Vanessa.

  • Hooray! It is a crowd pleaser, for sure.

  • I just made this cake last week and it was really yummy! The only changes that I made were to add a pinch of salt and bake the cake into mini-loaves.

    Thanks for sharing a great recipe! I really enjoyed it. 🙂

  • Awesome recipe! Love the texture – soft and spongy.
    made slight alteration – 1 cup cake flour and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    instead of vanila bean, i used orange zest. also use strawberry yogurt.
    it turn our marvelous! nice summer cupcakes! thanks for sharing

  • I’m French and I can confirm that everybody LOVES this cake. It’s so easy to make that it’s almost shameful to spend so little time measuring and mixing the ingredients… I love using different flavored yoghurts so that everytime I make, it’s a different cake! I even tried it once with Oreos (I was being couurpted while I lived in the US!) but I had to add an extra-egg to make the batter thinner. It’s so cool that you shared this recipe!

  • I made this cake and It was yummmmmy!!! Thank you for the recipe!! 🙂 making the cake again tomorrow. 🙂

  • Hi… I just made this cake to my hubby for him to ‘snacking’ when watching FIFA. He said the cake is delicious but just a bit oily. I haven’t tried it yet because here in Australia is already very late. I’m wondering if it supposed to be a bit ‘oily’ ? I was using greek yoghurt to make this cake.. Thanks..

Leave a comment

two − 2 =

my books

I Support

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.