Yogurt Cake with Attitude
I was accused of being a “rude bitch” by a complete stranger this past weekend. It was jarring and ultimately hilarious for reasons to follow. Still as I sit here looking longingly at the photos of my French Yogurt Cake, I think of the “Rude French” stereotype and wonder: what is rude? More specifically where did the concept of the prissy Parisian stem from? To date I haven’t been to France though I fully intend to go one day, if nothing else to tour Giverny home of my favorite impressionist Monet. I’ve been told by many friends that have gone that the “rude” French is simply a misconception from simple cultural differences. Americans can seem quite rude contrasted against native French in their quiet cafes when they scream at misbehaving children like they’re living on a barn. In short: it’s all a matter of perception.
Back to my story though about my rude behavior. Friday had been a series of unpleasant, disappointing events culminating in the worst dining experience I’ve had in a long time. Davis friends do NOT go to Luigi’s. My double date decided to try to salvage the evening by seeing a film. It was 10PM and we were hoping to go to the 10:10 showing of the new Snow White flick. Alas twihards were out in force for opening weekend and at that point the showing had sold out. The line for the 11PM was wrapped around the block already and only one register was open. Knowing we probably wouldn’t get tickets, the group decided to try to catch Dark Shadows that was playing at 10:15. Side note: don’t see this movie. Not worth it.
In any case after I did a quick survey of the group I realized we were not going to move fast enough through the line to make the start of the film. Most of these kids had plenty of time for their film and I wondered if there was a way to get our tickets well, first. I mean it makes sense from the perspective of a business owner: selling more tickets is good. An empty theatre in 5 minutes for a full theatre in 50 is silly when you could have 4 more purchases with a little line shuffle and still fill up the later showing. So I sought out the manager and asked if they could open another register for non-snow white movie goers. A woman at the front of the line heard my inquiry and then made her comment.
See she’d been standing in line for the past 30 minutes. I can only surmise she partly resented my asking because she put in the time. Or she just doesn’t understand that sometimes in life it never hurts to ask. We got our tickets by the way. The manager agreed with my summary of the situation and let those trying to get to other showings go to a second window. I couldn’t be bothered to suppress a little smirk when I waltzed into the movie a few minutes after this exchange to discover my insult slinging strange acquaintance been standing in line for Dark Shadows as well; no wonder she was annoyed I moved through the line so fast.
After having such a long day I relished the victory even if the movie was abysmal. Still I wonder: do you think I was rude?
I don’t. I think if I offended anyone recently it would probably be Dorie Greenspan when I smothered her already delicious recipe for a dense French Yogurt cake with orange cream, orange flavored whipped cream and ripe strawberries. Over the top and excessive Americanism on a simple, understated French Dessert. Sounds about right :-D Next time I’ll just make the loaf itself and enjoy it that way but I couldn’t help myself from wanting to use up the orange cream I’d made days earlier… All a matter of perception I suppose.
Anyway here is the original recipe with my variation for baking listed below.
French Yogurt Cake
drenched in American frippery and taken from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking from my home to yours”
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ground almonds (or, if you’d prefer, omit the almonds and use another 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
- 1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained, for glazing the top (optional)
- 1 teaspoon water, for glazing the top (optional)
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you’re using them, baking powder and salt and keep nearby as well.
Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, stir in the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes for the round cake or 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it will be golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack, 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.
To make the glaze: Put the marmalade in a small pot or a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of water and heat (on the range or in the microwave oven) until the jelly is hot and liquefied. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.
Serving: In France, this cake is usually served with a little sweetened crème fraiche, but it lends itself to other toppings as well. Fresh soft fruit, like sliced peaches or plums, is a natural with this as is berries with a touch of sugar. And, because the cake is plain and just a little tangy from the yogurt, it pairs happily with lemon cream, curd or mousse and is delicious with chocolate mousse or chocolate sauce.
Olivia’s Presentation: instead of a loaf pan I used a 9” round cake pan to bake up my cake. Then I sliced it down the middle and smeared orange cream in between the layers and again on top. Frosted the outsides with a sweetened whipped cream that I added just a drop of orange oil to for flavor. Thinly sliced strawberries arranged in circles and voila. Sweetness overload.