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.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  French Yogurt Cake


French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon


Lemons have always been something of an anomaly for me.  I love lemons in savory food – like in chicken picatta, or greek lemon soup with rice – I love lemons in cocktails – lemon drops, vodka with a twist of lemon – but for some reason if a lemon square was sitting in front of me, I would have no problem passing it by.  I almost never bake with lemons – I turn my nose at lemon merengue pie, or lemon cake – and would choose something else any day of the week.  Then this recipe came along.  I found this recipe in Molly Wizenberg’s book A Homemade Life.  First of all, the word French really caught my eye.  I have to admit, I basically like anything french.  The next word that got me was yogurt.  I love yogurt – can’t get enough of it – I have at least one everyday – and my favorite yogurt is european style – extremely creamy, but not too think – and full-bodied, unlike many of the yogurt on the market.  I read the ingredients – and I decided I had to make it.  Maybe this would be the recipe that turns me into a complete lemon lover.  Well – this cake was incredible.  It was moist, flavorful – and just perfectly delicious – the lemon glaze on top was exactly what the cake was calling for – and it was fantastic.  The glaze is very thin, and soaks into the cake to make it even more moist and delicious.  It is best served immediately – or waiting an hour or so.



  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt (not low-fat or non-fat)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola


  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and grease it too.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the lemon zest, and whisk to mix thoroughly.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended.  Add the flour mixture and stir just to combine.  Add the oil and stir to incorporate. At first, it will look like a horrible, oily mess, but keep stirring, and it will come together into a smooth batter. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.

When the cake is thoroughly cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.

Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  French Yogurt Cake

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