Monday, March 23, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

But not just any cake, French Yogurt Cake! I know the name doesn't sound ultra-appealing, but I can assure you, it is SOME good! The Food Librarian, whose lovely blog I follow, participates in Tuesdays with Dorie, where the group makes a Dorie Greenspan recipe each Tuesday. I love Dorie's recipes and used to read her column in Bon Appetit regularly. This French Yogurt Cake was The Food Librarian's choice last for Tuesday. When I saw how gorgeous her cake was, I knew I had to try it! It was love at first sight.

Wow, The Food Librarian is a baker par excellence! Her blog is chock-full of beautiful photos of her even more beautiful creations. I am SO envious of her skill, both in baking and photography. I love to bake, but cake decoration is my fatal flaw. (Along with pie crust.) I think it's because of my total inability to draw anything but stick figures. If you have not been by there, definitely check out The Food Librarian's blog! There is a Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake to die for there today.

The French Yogurt Cake is amazingly easy to make, and very non-fussy as far as cakes go. Just a dusting of powdered sugar on top and you're good to go! Dorie's recipe is actually written to produce a loaf cake, but she also gives directions for making a 9" round, which is what I decided to do. She also gives directions for making a variation with Riviera flavors, which I would have loved to try, except I think it would have been a bit too avant-garde for DC. The Riviera version calls for extra-virgin olive oil and rosemary. I love the taste of olive oil in sweet foods. Weird at first, but then it grows on you!

In her vast wisdom, the Food Librarian made her cake with one of my 2 most favorite yogurts on earth, the Fage Greek-style yogurt with 2 % fat. It is so thick, rich, and creamy you would never guess it's "low-fat." Greek yogurt is strained, so some of the whey is removed to make the yogurt extra thick and delicious. It's less sour, to my taste, than regular plain yogurt, and makes a great snack, as 1 cup not only has active cultures good for your gut, and calcium for your bones, it also has almost 20 grams of protein. I love it with some apricot preserves stirred into it. I've got DC hooked on it with black cherry jam. :) It's a staple in my fridge. Naturally, I too used the Fage yogurt in my cake.

Here are the ingredients I used:

French Yogurt Cake
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. ground almonds (
she had me right there!)
2 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c. sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. plain yogurt (
I used Fage Total Greek Yogurt, 2 %)
3 large eggs
1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower

See? I told you it was easy! Here's my prepped pan. Dorie says to butter it, but I just used nonstick spray like I always do. I decided it would be a good idea to put some parchment on the bottom so the cake wouldn't stick to the pan. I sprayed the parchment with nonstick spray, but did not flour it as I intended to serve the cake without frosting and didn't want any floury coating left on the cake. Obviously, precision work does not interest me, as my parchment is not very circular!

The cake bakes at 350F, so I got my oven heating. Next, I mixed up my wet ingredients in the good old Kitchen Aid. I always think they look so pretty, with all the different colors and textures.

You are supposed to rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers, but I just let the Kitchen Aid do it before I added the rest of the ingredients. The dry ingredients, flour, the ground almonds (I blitzed some slivered almonds in my food processor), baking powder and salt go in a separate bowl.

Now it's time to add the dry ingredients to the wet ones. Dorie also gives some very precise directions here on using a rubber spatula and whisking and folding. Naturally, I ignored them and just used the Kitchen Aid, adding the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low speed. I reasoned that gentle mixing would probably not toughen up the gluten in the flour any more than me floundering around with a whisk and a spatula.

After the dry ingredients are added, the oil is added. It's supposed to be folded in by hand; again, I used the Kitchen Aid. (Hey, Dorie may be a fantastic baker, but she's not the boss of me!!)

Here's my batter, all mixed up and ready to go into the oven. Dorie prudently advises you to put a baking sheet under the pan, which I did, as I've had unpleasant experiences with overflowing batter in the past, and it is definitely no fun.

I baked the cake for 40 minutes, at which time my cake tester came out clean.

I am sure there is a technical reason why my cake cracked on the top (doubtless related to my not following the directions precisely!). Luckily, such things do not bother me. I have long since given up any hope of achieving perfection in baking. If it tastes good, I consider it a success!

One thing that is really quite irksome is that in my desire to avoid dried-out baked goods, my stuff is sometimes not quite done all the way through, despite the fact that I always test with a toothpick. You would think that carry-over cooking would take care of it during the cooling period, but not always.

I let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and used a table knife to loosen the edges. Thanks to the parchment, the cake came right out of the pan. When I unpeeled the parchment, I also created a small crater on the bottom of the cake where it wasn't quite done and some cake stuck to the parchment. I put the stuck part back into the crater, plastered the parchment back on, and resolved to hope for the best. I re-inverted it so it could finish cooling right-side up.

You can see my cake is falling a bit as it cools-- I bet it just needed 5 more minutes in the oven! Grrrrrr! But what else is whipped cream for, but to hide the booboos on my cake?

Inspired by The Food Librarian's example, I cut the cake in half to make two layers and filled it with some store-bought lemon curd. I get mine at TJ's, just like The Food Librarian! We are so alike, I am sure I will just absorb her marvelous baking skills through telepathy! I mean, we're both librarians, we both have food blogs, and we both like baking! The similarities are amazing!!
Here's my filled cake, although you can't really see the filling very well.

As I have mentioned, cake decoration is not my strong suit. But I think things are aren't quite perfect have their own quirky charm. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Dorie uses a marmalade glaze to finish the cake, but it really doesn't need anything more than powdered sugar (unless it has sunk in the middle, like my cake). I filled the top of the cake with vanilla whipped cream and added some sliced strawberries. The Food Librarian's cake is gorgeous, with cascades of lovingly chopped strawberries dripping down the side of it. Mine, not quite so gorgeous. But I did have fun making it "not perfect" on purpose.

Have a slice!

It may not be photo-worthy, but we loved this cake with its delicious lemon flavor, the richness and texture of the ground almonds, and it's wonderful, moist texture. The whipped cream was a nice complement.

My cake platter, despite the fact that it's just an ordinary, scratched and faded china plate, is very special to me. The reason I used it is because it's the only plate I have that has a flat center instead of being coupe-shaped, and less likely to make my cake fall apart. While I would not use this plate if serving company, I love to use it when I'm just cooking for the family.

This plate is the last one of the "everyday" dishes we used when I was a small child. My dad (who was in the Air Force) bought this set of dishes for my mother in Japan; it's real Japanese bone china. My parents replaced this old, scratched set that had literally travelled the world with us when I was in junior high, but we kept a few of the old plates. They were much prettier before the dishwasher ruined them; I think they may have had some platinum trim on them when they were new. I love the simplicity of the wheat leaf design and the muted, sort of tone-on-tone colors. It perfectly captures my mom's simple tastes-- my dad did a great job of choosing a pattern she would like. I love to look at this plate and think about how many hundreds of meals we ate from it, back when we were all still together. And now I use it to serve food to my family.

French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

See French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze on Key Ingredient.


  1. Simply gorgeous cake.. I love the layers and the filling, and it does so look pretty.. you are too hard on you. It is beautiful!! Made with such love!

  2. Mmm, this looks so delicious! What a perfect combination of springy flavors, too!

  3. Oh, this sounds so delish...and it LOOKS pretty, too! Homey, rustic, "imperfection" is fabulous!

  4. Donna-- Awww, thanks!! You gotta try this! It's just so good!

    Elyse-- It really is very springlike. The Trader Joe's lemon curd is absolutely perfect for spreading on cakes, it's nice and loose at room temp. And really yummy!

    Heather-- Thanks!! There is a tradition in needlework, I can't remember from where, to deliberately put a small flaw into the finished product, e.g., a quilt. I thought that was great! I guess it's the flaw that makes the work unique. :)

  5. Beautiful cake! I bet it is totally delicious! The filling sounds really great!

  6. You were had at the almonds, I was had at the yogurt! This looks beautiful! The strawberries I'm finding aren't this pretty yet. As for your comments on my site....70 lbs! I am so impressed. You have STRONG incentive not to put that on again. You worked so hard, keep up the good work. You are inspiring me that it is possible! Thanks also for your well wishes, I'm feeling slightly better today. :)

  7. I love simple baked goods like this I think I will make a little loaf when I have some plain yoghurt on hand :)

  8. OH my word that cake looks to die for!!

  9. I think it looks gorgeous and so delicious!! The lemon curd sounds like a perfect match!

  10. Beautiful!! Absolutely beautiful!! I love it so much I am smiling right now!! Love this post and the plate -- memories like that are so wonderful!

  11. I have that cookbook! It's my all-time favorite, and that cake was one of the first things I just HAD to make. you're right, it's AWESOME! I slathered orange marmalade over mine though.

  12. Once I got to 'Lemon Chiffon Cake' and Triple in the title I could not clearly read further, lol, but any cake would suffice since I am a hard core sweetaholic :) Your son is very creative as his mother!

    I could see dipping fries in GG too!

  13. Oh I also forgot to say I LOVE THE PLATE! I am a dishaholic too, and my dad gave his mom a set of glasses from Japan when he was in the navy that my aunt gave me when daddy passed and when I remarried a few years ago...I cherish them so much!

  14. I love the Food Librarian's creations! This cake looks divine!

  15. That looks great! Now I'm hungry...

  16. This is so beautiful! What a great job! Can I have a slice please?!! And isn't Trader Joe's Lemon Curd the best? I has access to a zillion lemons, but sometimes just opening that jar is so much easier! :)

    Baker and Librarian = instant friends forever! :)

  17. OMigosh.....

    Meatloaf and then cake....I'm so hungry now.


    Thanks so much for visiting me on my SITS day :)


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