October 28, 2009

French Yogurt Cake


I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking lately, but you wouldn't know it by looking at this blog. I was going through some of my recent photos last night, and as usual, it reminded me about some of those delicious things I made. Rigatoni with comforting meat sauce … spaghetti with roasted tomatoes … and this delicious French yogurt cake.

I first read about this cake in a wonderful book called On Rue Tatin. It’s a food memoir by Susan Hermann Loomis about moving from the U.S. to France and discovering French food and French life in a little town. Among the many recipes Susan includes is one for a traditional French yogurt cake. She talks about the mother of one of her son’s schoolmates who brings this cake to school one day when Susan is teaching a class. It’s so good Susan asks for the recipe.  In typical French fashion, the woman shrugs and says it’s nothing special.

I didn’t make the cake at the time, but I filed it away in my memory box of recipes. A few weeks ago we had a big carton of Fairwinds Farm goat milk yogurt sitting in the fridge. I bought it because J has pretty much become lactose intolerant. I really like the yogurt – it has a musky tang like goat cheese, but smoother. But we were having trouble finishing the container and I remembered that recipe. I searched for it online and up it popped, on numerous blogs. I ended up going with Orangette’s version.


Ever since we polished off this cake I’ve been looking for an excuse to make it again. There are so many great things about it: It’s a one-bowl recipe (I’m always looking for ways to do fewer dishes). You will probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your kitchen already. And, probably the best part, it lends itself to variation. The original on Orangette calls for lemon zest to flavour the cake. But Molly also gives lots of ideas for other flavourings, and since I had no lemons, I decided to use vanilla and almond meal instead. It worked like a charm.


Because of the yogurt, the cake is extremely moist. It bakes up pretty and yellow (ours was probably extra yellow because of our organic, very yellow canola oil from Mighty Trio) and golden brown on the edges. Those caramelized, sweet edges were my favourite part. I wasn’t actually a huge fan of the almond flavour in the cake when I ate it by itself. I said to J, “If only we had some whipped cream to put on top.” His suggestion? More goat milk yogurt.

Yes, yes and yes. Wrapped in a soft blanket of yogurt and topped with a drizzle or two of honey, this cake comes alive. It became my favourite dessert, snack and breakfast. Then I started dressing it up with chopped Bartlett pears, and it got even better.


As I said, there are plenty of variations to be had. I think I’ll try the classic lemon version next time.

As you can read on Orangette, in France they measure the ingredients for this cake in a yogurt container, which equals about half a cup. I’m not sure which yogurt they’re talking about, because from what I remember about French yogurt, it comes in all sizes and shapes of container, from little clay pots to baby-sized plastic cups. The French sure love them some yogurt products.


Anne said...

Gorgeous cake - and even more beautiful with the cut-up pear!

Also I love the little clay pots of "yaourt". And I love the word "yaourt"; wonder why we don't say that in French Canada?

Brooke said...

We're on the same wavelength! I made this cake recently too and topped with sliced pears. (Lots of baking lately, but very little posting). Yours looks delicious.

Maki said...

I agree, gorgeous cake.

Bahumat said...

This looks really marvelous. :)

Always look forward to your reviews on CBC radio, Gail! Looking forward to trying out this recipe.

Isabelle said...

Thanks everyone. Bahumat, just want to let you know my name is Isabelle. I do restaurant reviews on the Edmonton CBC morning show. Gail Hall does a food column on the show, so maybe you're mixing her up with me!

Bahumat said...

I am confused! How embarassing!

{kiss my spatula} said...

was searching for a yogurt cake and yours looks just perfect!