This crazy delicious French Grandmother’s Lemon Yogurt Cake has a moist, tender crumb, takes minutes to make and has a delightful history!
I made this delicious Lemon Yogurt Cake a few weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. The problem is that I’m not in my own kitchen right now and can’t make another one for a while…sad!
Are you having a hard time keeping up with us? Yes, I’m feeling a bit like that myself!
A few days ago we were in London visiting our daughter and her family. But Scott and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this year, and we were busy this spring, planning a week together in Paris. We bid adieu to our family in London on Tuesday and headed to France on the Eurostar.
We’ve been here for two days now, and are having the time of our lives in a delightful little (very little) flat that we rented in the heart of the Paris Latin District.
You’re going to laugh when you hear one of the things that I couldn’t wait to see when I got to Paris.
These adorable little yogurt jars.
A super charming history
I know, I know, that sounds a bit strange, right? But I read about this wonderful Lemon Yogurt Cake a few weeks before we left for our London/Paris trip. I was so intrigued by its charming history that, not only could I hardly wait to make the cake, I was also dying to see these fun little jars in person.
What’s the history of this French Grandmother’s Lemon Yogurt Cake? The story’s told, that this humble, simple recipe is one that grandmothers (and lots of other people too, I’m quite sure) all over France are renowned for. In French, this cake is called Gâteaux de Mamie, which translated is: Granny Cake. The part of the story I love is the way these French grandmothers measure the cake ingredients – with yogurt jars!
Yogurt in France has been traditionally sold in small, round glass jars (these days you can find it in all kinds of containers; but in the past, it was mostly sold in little jars). The recipe starts out with one jar of yogurt. The rest of the ingredients are measured in that same jar: two jars of sugar, 3 jars of flour, one jar of oil…
Don’t worry though, you don’t need to have French yogurt available to make the cake. It turns out that each jar holds one-half cup (120 milliliters), so it’s easy to translate the recipe into more classic cooking measurements.
I tried out the cake before we left on our trip and it truly is fantastic! Definitely a keeper recipe! The cake is super moist and a simple lemon syrup that’s brushed on while still warm yields an amazingly delicious, crisp, citrus glazed crust. It doesn’t really need any embellishment, but a dusting of powdered sugar is a lovely finishing touch.
And it’s one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made! How easy? Check out the video below and you’ll see for yourself!
The first day Scott and I were in Paris, we stopped at a small grocery store near our little apartment. The dairy case was the first place I checked and, sure enough, there were the famous little jars used to make the lemon yogurt cake. I served the yogurt the next morning for breakfast and discovered that, not only are the jars quite charming (I’m taking a bunch of them home!), the yogurt is smooth, creamy and incredibly delicious; definitely a win-win-win!
So there you have it, French Grandmother’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. I love the name, especially when you know the story behind it. Whatever you decide to call it, make it! I know you’re going to love it!
Café Tips for making this Lemon Yogurt Cake
- I often use Greek yogurt for this cake but you can also use regular yogurt. In fact, in a pinch, you could also use buttermilk or sour cream. They’ll all work! (You just might need to give the cake a new name if you’re not using yogurt.)
- I’m a big fan of butter in cake recipes. This cake calls for oil (no butter) and I was a bit skeptical until I actually tasted the cake. Don’t be tempted to substitute butter as the oil keeps the cake light yet moist at the same time. And the flavor is wonderful!
- Any type of neutral-flavored oil works well in this recipe. I have made it with sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil and avocado oil. They all work well.
- This recipe calls for lemon zest and lemon juice. Always zest your fruit before squeezing for the juice. The best way to zest a citrus fruit is with one of these microplane zesters. They’re not expensive and can be used for many years before having to replace.
P.S. Wondering what our tiny, but charming Paris abode looks like? We’ll be sharing a post tomorrow titled “Our Little Paris (very little) Apartment” with lots of pictures.
- ½ cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- grated lemon zest from 1 medium-size lemon
- ½ cup sunflower grape seed or canola oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup of powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with baking spray, rub inside surface of pan with a paper towel to cover evenly with the spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray parchment paper lightly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs - stirring until well blended.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt and zest, mixing to just combine.
- Add the oil and stir well. Don’t worry, at first it will seem to separate, but keep stirring till smooth.
- Pour the batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (every oven is different, so check with the toothpick test rather than the time). Be careful not to overbake though.
- Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes; then turn it out of the pan onto the rack.
- Combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and stir until smooth. With a pastry brush, gently pat the glaze all over the cake. Just keep going over the cake till the glaze is gone. Some of it will drip off, but most of it will soak in. Allow cake to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve.
Adapted by Chris Scheuer from Orangette.