I baked you a cake.

french cake out of oven

Say we were going to a dinner party in Europe, at a large outdoor table with a linen tablecloth, topped with olive oils and fresh bread and cheeses, just next to a vineyard, and it were the kind of thing where guests brought something—is every party in Europe the kind of thing where guests bring something?—this is the cake I’d make.

It’s an extremely simple recipe, made of ordinary pantry items like flour, sugar, eggs, yogurt. That’s, after all, why I tried it. And it’s from an article I read about French cooking, or rather, the French women who are famous for their cooking.

Essentially, the point of the story is this: everybody, even the most impressive cooks, takes shortcuts. They pick up a cake from the bakery or they use a premade pie crust. That’s OK; in fact, maybe that’s best. There are times when one should, say, labor four hours on a homemade dessert (though, admittedly, none are coming to my mind at this point in time), and there are times when she should pull together easy ingredients and make something basic and delicious.

cake on plate

Before making this cake the other night, I had been through a series of bad recipes, most notably the brownies that I had to cook 45 minutes longer than the directions stated and which still didn’t taste all that great. After making this cake, I tried another let-down, the flatbread, which, in my opinion, was just fine and didn’t have a whole lot of flavor.

But this cake, it’s good. It’s offers a subtle sweetness, not at all overpowering. The citrus adds to the fresh taste, and the yogurt makes the center very moist. Plus, the marmalade glaze sweetens everything perfectly. I like it best with my morning coffee.

Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze
Bon Appetit, February 2005

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon packed finely grated citrus peel (recipe originally calls for lemon; I used orange)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the glaze:
1/4 teaspoon marmalade (I used apricot, but mostly any fruit would do)
1 teaspoon water

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees (325 if using a glass loaf pan). Generously butter a 8.5 X 4.5 X 2.5 metal loaf pan. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, shredded fruit peel and vanilla in large bowl; whisk until well-blended. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, fold in oil. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Place pan on baking sheet.

Place cake on baking sheet in oven and bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack for about 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack. Turn cake upright onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made one day ahead. Wrap and store at room temperature.)

Stir marmalade and 1 teaspoon water in small saucepan over medium heat until marmalade melts. Brush hot mixture over top of cake. Let glaze cool and set. Cut cake crosswise into slices.

6 Comment

  1. amy says: Reply

    this looks so simply perfect. and i can see it, at that party. the prefect end to a perfect meal.

  2. Thanks, Amy!

  3. I there, I stumbled across your blog while checking out Montague and had to comment because I am absolutely inspired to try this recipe. I love all yogurt based batters, and this cake sounds so easy and tasty. Thanks!

  4. Rachel says: Reply

    looks yum! what a handy recipe to have in the back of your brain!!
    i know ill be cooking lots of goodies once we get our foster kiddos to share with!!!

  5. Nealy says: Reply

    I shall try this next week for book club! Yes, I confess; I’ve been know to take shortcuts with my pies on occasion. It’s so hard sometimes to slave in the kitchen for so long to see something go so quickly. So, when I know a pie is going to go like that, I use a pre-made shell.

  6. Elizabeth: I’m so glad you commented because it led me to your blog, which I already know I will love. The post about your grandma’s recipes was heart-touching.

    Rae: Do you know the official date that you’ll get to start yet? I’m so happy for you; you will be a WONDERFUL foster mommy.

    Nealy: Aw, book club! What are you guys reading? Bring back some fond memories…

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