If I lived in Paris I would undoubtedly purchase my fine sweets and pastries at a patisserie, but I would apparently feel that it is OK to bake a simple yogurt cake for my family...like this one, a variation of the French Yogurt Cake in Dorie Greenspan's Baking, from my home to yours cookbook.
I chose this sweet to send as a surprise to Natasha and her heart's love, both fans of a slice of something sweet with their afternoon coffee. I made it in a mini loaf pan (see Peabody, I'm a convert...yay mini pans!) and knew that it was firm and moist enough to withstand a few days journey via snail mail to Natasha. She and her hubby are both sweet people, so this was a true sweet for the sweet.
I also made some fairy cakes using a Nordic ware tart pan and they sure looked cute once they were baked. I had a fairy cake with my Earl Gray tea and it was wonderful!
This cake goes together quickly if you have yogurt, a lemon and some almonds and the usual baker's supplies of flour and sugar. I had almond meal on hand but you can make your own with blanched almonds, ground in the food processor. Use a tablespoon of the sugar from the recipe and add it as you grind the nuts to keep them from becoming a paste.
These cakes are mildly sweet, fragrant with lemon, slightly chewy from the almonds, and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. You can take the juice from the lemon and mix it with confectioners sugar to make a glaze for the top of the cake if you like, but I liked it like this:
French Yogurt Cake with Lemon
from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from my home to yours
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
¼ cup pure vanilla extract
½ cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and put the oven rack in the center of the oven.
Butter 4 mini loaf pans and place on a baking sheet. (I used a tart pan and 1 mini loaf pan.)
Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.
Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl. With your fingertips rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, add 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 prepared pans and smooth the top of loaf pans. The mini tart pans will self-level.
Bake the tart pans for about 20 minutes and the mini loaf pans for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pans. The cakes should be golden brown and a thin knife, inserted into the center of the mini loaf will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cakes and the sides of the pans.
Unmold all cakes, cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.
You can also bake one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan cake.