Cook The Book: Try Your Hand at French Home Baking with Dorie Greenspan’s Yogurt Cake

March 5, 2017

Whether you’re a seasoned baker who lives for the heat of the oven or a newcomer looking to whip up your first batch of cookies, there’s something for everyone from the repertoire of Dorie Greenspan—award-winning cookbook writer and “culinary guru” who continues to make the art of baking accessible to home cooks in America and the world over. In ‘Baking: From My Home to Yours’, Greenspan presents a selection of recipes that range from classic to modern and from simple to complex with her cheery, always-convivial writing style. Though American recipes are well-represented in the book (yes, you’ll find apple pie and chocolate chip cookies within its pages), she includes a number of baked goods from around the globe, primarily from France—such as sable, pear-frangipane tarts, and even raspberry blancmange—drawing from her years spent in Paris and her experiences working with the likes of Julia Child, Pierre Herme and Daniel Boulud.

Thanks to the prevalence of patisserie in almost every corner in the country, Dorie says most French people don’t actually bake. But if there’s one thing she says every French person can make, it’s gâteau au yaourt, or yogurt cake—a simple loaf cake that is easy to make, requiring no special equipment and calling for ingredients you likely already have in the pantry. Traditionally, the quantities of the ingredients were not written by weights (the system typical of most baking recipes in France); instead it would be measured out not with measuring cups, but with the empty yogurt container—although as yogurt cup sizes are said to vary in the US, Dorie’s done the job of converting them to the standard American measuring system. You don’t even need an electric mixer; just a whisk, a rubber spatula, and some upper arm strength will do.

For all its ease of preparation however, the results are astounding: you get a simple but sublime cake with a coarse but utterly moist crumb, a bit of grit from the almonds, and the unmistakeable fragrance of lemon zest. Similar to pound cake but a touch less rich and made with no butter, this is the kind of cake that’s great just about any time of day—for breakfast with butter and jam (try it toasted—a revelation), as a mid-day snack (fork and saucer optional), or dressed up with sweetened crème fraîche (as is traditional) and fruit for dessert.

Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
 1 loaf
Time: 1 hr 5 mins (15 min prep / 50-55 min baking)

Ingredients: Yogurt Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon’s zest, grated
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup canola oil

Ingredients: Glaze

  • ½ cup lemon marmalade, strained
  • 1 tsp water

Procedure: Yogurt Cake

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Generously butter an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and, with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until moist and aromatic.
  4. Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well-blended.
  5. Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You will have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.
  6. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan. It should be golden-brown and a thin knife inserted in the center will come out clean.
  8. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature, right side up, on the rack.

Procedure: Glaze

  1. Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or microwaveable bowl, stir in the teaspoon of water, and heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied.
  2. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.
Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

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