French breakfasts, 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 – washed down with a steaming hot café au lait.
Yogurt cake is one of the easiest French culinary traditions to master. It is a great recipe to make with children, it’s incredibly versatile, and it can be enjoyed for breakfast, dessert, or as a goûter (snack).
One of the best things about this cake recipe is that it requires very few kitchen utensils to make, and no measuring cups. That’s because you measure your ingredients with your empty yogurt container instead.
This recipe was derived from an old and tattered French cookbook. It was not uncommon for the French (and other Europeans) to use a “pot” as a measuring unit, and by pot they meant the standard-sized container that the ingredient was packaged in.
The fact that standard sizes change with time (i.e. in the US, yogurt containers were reduced from 8 to 8 ounces in the mid-2000s) and differ from country to country makes dialing in these old recipes somewhat difficult. I’ve got this one calibrated fairly well, and I believe my version is close to the original.
This cake also lends itself to countless variations – see the recipe below for additional suggestions, and even feel free to explore our equally delicious two ingredient cake recipe that could be embellished with similar suggested variations!
If you’re the type of baker who feels like no cake is complete without icing, feel free use your favorite recipe for decorating. We recommend covering this delicious dessert with our equally delicious Swiss meringue buttercream!
This recipe starts out with store bought yogurt, but if you want to make this completely from scratch, plain (or flavored) yogurt can be made in a good food dehydrator, such as one of the Excalibur models.
Milk requires conditions higher than room temperature but lower than that of a typical oven environment to induce a good bacterial culture, and food dehydrators are perfect for this.
Other appliances, such as the 7-in-1 Instant Pot Programmable Pressure Cooker, also have the ability to control their interior environment and create conditions suitable for culturing milk.
Anyhow, that’s enough digression – let’s get to the recipe!Print
- 6 ounces yogurt ((individual serving cup), plain or any flavor your choice)
- 3 containers flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 containers sugar ((about 4 grams))
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 container cooking fat (softened butter or oil)
- Juice from 1–2 lemons
- 1/2 container confectioners’ sugar
- Empty the contents of one individual size container of yogurt into a mixing bowl. Using your empty yogurt container, measure 3 containers full of flour and add it to the yogurt. Add baking powder. Stir with a wire whisk until combined.
- Add two containers of sugar and stir. You can adjust the amount of sugar according to your preference. Add your cooking fat – butter or olive oil – and stir.
- Finally, add the eggs and stir until just combined.
- Pour the batter into a well-greased loaf pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake feels firm to the touch.
- Cool cake on a rack for about 15 minutes, then turn it out and cool completely.
- Optional finish: mix the lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and spoon it over the cake.
Here are just a few ideas for a fun twist on this simple cake:
Sweet variations: fresh or frozen berries, sliced apples with cinnamon, chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, sprinkles, or chopped nuts. To make an almond yogurt cake, substitute 1 cup of almond meal for 1 cup of flour.
I threw a couple handfuls of fresh strawberries in for the particular cake shown here. Frozen would also work well but I’d chunk them up in a blender first. Blackberries or blueberries can go in whole.
Savory variations: use plain yogurt to make a delicious savory loaf or mini muffins. Make bite-size muffins with bacon and blue cheese, or try a rich dinner loaf with gruyere.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!