This week I discovered that my recent ‘splurge’ purchase of a blender and sudden desire to feast on nothing but delicious smoothies for weeks had run amuck. I had purchased a big container of wonderful Greek yogurt at Trader Joe’s to use in said smoothies, only to find I had barely used it before the expiration date (no worries, it’s not THAT old). What to do?
Fortunately for me, yogurt is a terrifically versatile ingredient that adds perfect tang and a delectable, moist crumb to nearly any cake – but in particular, the pound cake/loaf cake variety. And this month’s Bon Appetit magazine, which highlights the foods of Paris, offered me a recipe I figured I had to try to use up that yogurt: an easy, lemony French Yogurt Cake that – according to the article – can be whipped up in a bowl in no time. Even better yet, the light bulbs went off in my head: summer is fast on its way, and what better dessert for summertime gatherings than a nice, fresh fruit trifle? And you can bet that Neufangled Desserts does not depend on a frozen Sara Lee pound cake for those recipes! Homemade it has to be, all the way.
So, I dove in and gave Bon Appetit’s recipe a shot, putting that yogurt to prompt use. True to the article author’s word, the cake was super-easy to make. Simply whisk together your dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients (including your yogurt) in another, then gently mix them together. The result? A pretty simple, but delicately lemon-flavored loaf that comes out of your oven with a nicely golden-brown crust and a tender crumb. I even found that using 0% fat Greek yogurt in place of the whole-milk Greek yogurt the recipe calls for still produces a pretty good, basic cake – so don’t be daunted if you find, as I did, that you purchased, or are using, a low fat yogurt.
Test loaf being done, I’m ready to tackle another couple loaves to pop in the freezer for those last-minute, emergency desserts that require a liqueur-soaked cake or summery, fruity-pile-on. Seriously… give it a try. It’s pretty easy, and you won’t want to buy a Sara Lee again. Once you have the cake made and stocked in your freezer, all you need to do is purchase some good fruit, make an easy sauce, buy some ice cream… the sky’s the limit (just make sure you defrost the cake when you need it!). Just check out what I did with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of homemade rhubarb sauce (oh my, was that good on a warm piece of cake)! The article even suggested that this cake is perfect toasted the next day, served alongside a nice cup of coffee. If you’re not a baker, this recipe will be a pretty darn easy one to tackle. Don’t be daunted. You can do it!
FRENCH YOGURT CAKE
Bon Appetit magazine, May 2012
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 an 8-1/2 x 4-1/4-inch loaf 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.