French Yogurt Cake

I have spent a lot of time in France.  I studied there in college, and actually lived with a family – so I feel like I did have a glimpse into French life – although when I really stop and think about it – I have a glimpse into a particular family’s life – can I really say that because they did things a certain way, that’s the way all French families did things?  Of course not, and I always have to remind myself of that very fact.

My French mother (yes, that’s what I called her to everyone else, except her – she was Madame when I spoke to her) was a very interesting lady.  She did not work, but she kept herself very busy – and now that I am a mom, I understand what she did. She went to the market everyday in preparation for the family lunch, as there was hardly anything stored in the refrigerator – some cheese, charcuterie on occasion, yogurt, and that’s about it. She also had three kids – so I assume that the rest of her day was consumed with caring for them.  There were always fresh baguettes when I came down for breakfast, that she would get from the neighborhood Boulangerie.  The only thing that was missing in my mind was baking.  She never baked, in fact, I do not remember a fresh-baked good prepared in the house the entire time I was there.  She was an amazing cook – but obviously baking was not her thing.  In fact, she rarely used the oven.  The question I have though, was it just not her thing, or with so many wonderful baked goods on every corner, is it uncommon to have a french mother that loves to bake?  I seriously doubt that.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I love a good French Yogurt Cake – in fact, I have posted one before – and it was amazing. This one looked different though – it was more of a snack cake, made in a loaf pan, with no glaze.  If French people made snack cakes, this is exactly what I would picture.  My girls loved this cake – they had it in their lunches all week, and they even had some for breakfast.  It’s not overly sweet, which makes it completely versatile.  Unfortunately I lost touch with my French family years ago – I think they would be surprised to see how consumed I am with food – and they had a part in that – at least their country did.  Even though she didn’t bake, her cooking still made an impact on me.  Fortunately my real mother’s obsession with baking gave me plenty of experience living with someone who always has something in the oven.


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°. Coat pan with vegetable oil spray. Dust with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, rub sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50–55 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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