Say bonjour to the French yogurt cake!
French breakfasts, often simple and sweet, are a wonderful way to start the day. There’s nothing quite like a small slice of gâteau au yaourt – or homemade yogurt cake – with a steaming hot café au lait.
A far more approachable option to bake compared to time-consuming croissants and other pastries bought in a professional pâtisserie, this perfect little loaf cake is an easy treat to master in the home kitchen.
It is a foolproof recipe to make with children – just a few kitchen utensils and equipment are required, and the batter can be mixed entirely by hand.
It’s also incredibly versatile, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, dessert, or as a goûter – a snack!
Better yet… it tastes amazing! This humble loaf is lightly sweet and tangy, perfectly fluffy, and very tender.
Traditionally, bakers in many French homes would use an unfussy prep technique for this recipe by measuring some of the ingredients with an empty 4-ounce glass yogurt jar, typically following a ratio of 1 part yogurt to 1 part oil, 2 parts sugar, and 3 parts flour.
This convenient method for measuring is a common household trick in France, where French-style yogurt is often made with a pot-set technique.
This means the base is cultured and set directly in individual containers, often reusable glass or ceramic jars, rather than cultured first in large vat batches before being transferred to individual disposable containers.
While you can certainly play with this ratio and the measuring vessels, especially if pot-set yogurt is readily available for you or if you make your own as you would in the pressure cooker, our version of the recipe utilizes the standard U.S. system of measurement.
Unadorned or served in style, your mom’s pound cake recipe will soon have some serious competition with the gâteau au yaourt!Print
French yogurt cake, gâteau au yaourt, is a simple recipe to bake at home. Enjoy this light and sweet treat for breakfast, dessert, or as a snack.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt, room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, positioning a rack in the center of the oven. Lightly grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan, and lightly grease the paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until evenly incorporated.
- In a large bowl, briefly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the sugar, yogurt, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until a smooth, light yellow liquid forms.
- Slowly and gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Continue whisking just until a runny batter forms, with a few small lumps remaining. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to scrape all of the batter from the bowl into the pan. Gently tap the pan on the countertop to release any air bubbles.
- Immediately transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs sticking to it.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Allow the cake to cool slightly in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a cooling rack.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: French, yogurt, cake
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Before you do anything else, first measure the yogurt and prep the eggs. Crack the eggs into a large bowl, checking and removing any shell fragments.
Let these two ingredients warm to room temperature – they both will mix more easily and will create a more homogenous batter when combined at room temperature with the other ingredients rather than incorporating them cold straight from the fridge.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. For the most even baking, position a rack in the center of the oven.
Lightly grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, line it with a sheet of parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper. Be sure to leave an overhang on two sides of the pan, for easy lifting once the cake is baked.
Step 2 – Whisk Together the Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt
Place the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk everything together until completely combined.
Step 3 – Whisk Together the Wet Ingredients and Sugar
Briefly beat the eggs with your whisk in order to break the yolks and incorporate them with the whites.
Add the sugar, yogurt, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract into the bowl. Whisk until a smooth, light yellow liquid forms.
Step 4 – Combine
Gradually sprinkle the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, whisking to combine. Continue whisking until a runny batter forms. There should still be a few small lumps remaining throughout the batter.
Don’t try to mix the batter until it is completely smooth, as this will lead to overmixing! Overmixing will create a dry, crumbly, and tough cake.
Step 5 – Pour into Pan and Bake
Switch to a rubber spatula and pour all of the batter into the prepared pan. Use the spatula to scrape out any remaining batter left in the bowl.
Gently tap the pan on the countertop a couple times. This simple trick will help to release any air bubbles that formed when mixing the batter, improving the cake’s final texture and appearance.
Immediately transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is fluffy and a light golden-brown color.
It should not jiggle when you gently shake the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out fairly clean, with a few crumbs sticking to it.
Uh-oh… did your loaf not rise properly? Is it as flat as a rectangular pancake? Mistakes happen, but if it still tastes alright, here are seven sweet sensations make as tasty alternatives.
Step 6 – Cool and Serve
Immediately remove the pan from the oven. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan and placing the cake on a cooling rack.
Cool the cake completely before serving.
Can I Use Greek Yogurt?
If you need to get rid of the last bit of Greek yogurt in your fridge before purchasing a new container, you have my baker’s blessing to use the rest for this recipe.
I have personally tested both plain Greek yogurt and plain full-fat yogurt in this recipe – both were popular successes among my family and friends, with very subtle differences in texture that may even go undetected.
Because Greek yogurt has a reduced water content, it will yield a thicker batter that will bake into a slightly drier cake with a tangier flavor compared to a batter made with plain whole milk version.
While you can substitute an equal amount, I suggest making one quick change:
If you want to use the Greek style in this recipe, measure it in your 1/2-cup measuring cup, but only fill it about 3/4 of the way full. Fill the remaining space with cold water.
This will help to loosen its texture so it’s not as thick, and it will help to slightly reduce its powerful tanginess.
Will you try using a Greek-style product? What do you think of this easy recipe for your next sweet breakfast or simple dessert? Leave a message below with your thoughts and opinions!
For other delectable goodies that rely upon yogurt’s lovely tang and creamy texture, you’ll fall in love with these recipes:
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on April 7, 2015. Last updated on July 25, 2023.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.