My current favorite part of the week comes when we get an emailed summary detailing how Faye spent the morning at school. Accompanying photographs include messy haired kids with socks hanging halfway off chubby feet and bellies peeking above elastic waist bands. Blurred hands and feet are in motion in every frame. Last week’s email included a photograph of Faye hard at work painting in an upside down tiara. She’d spent the morning making a French yogurt cake from scratch. (Oh, to be three.)
Together with her tiny classmates she rubbed sugar and lemon between her fingers and then spent the rest of the week repeating the process with imaginary ingredients.
“Do you want some sugar with lemon, Mama?” she’d ask with her fingers held up in a pantomime. I ate a dozen imaginary cakes before deciding I needed to recreate the real thing.
This is not the first recipe for a lightly sweetened, perfect-for-a-gloomy-afternoon cake that you will find on this blog. It’s my favorite kind of treat and in the midst of riding out a particularly gray week, we needed something a little extra sunshine-y to eat. You’ll forgive me if I needed to cut into it before it had properly cooled.
French Yogurt Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit
What you need:
Olive oil to coat a loaf pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (approximately the zest of one lemon)
3/4 cup whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
What you need to do:
+ Preheat oven to 350°. Coat your pan with a thin layer of olive oil and dust with flour, knocking out any extra.
+ Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
+ Use your fingers to rub sugar with lemon zest in a second bowl until the sugar is moist. (Or, whenever the smallest among you has had enough of rubbing her fingers in sugar.) Add yogurt, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients, without over-stirring.
+ Pour batter into your prepared bread loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a straw inserted into center comes out clean, 50–55 minutes.
+ Let your cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and let it cool completely. (Or don’t. It’ll be just fine.)
For the curious:
Daffodils from the neighborhood bodega.
Pitcher, a gift from Notary Ceramics.
Dish towel from Fog Linen.