When I was a student at Kalamazoo College in the ’70’s, I spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence in a foreign study program. My roommate and I rented a room in a spacious apartment, close to the town’s “Main Street”, the Cours Mirabeau. Our landlady was Madame Lazarides, a senior French woman who spoke no English. Karen and I spoke very rudimentary French, especially during those early weeks, so there were many language hurdles to overcome. Madame gave us a simple breakfast in our room, but in the evening we ate in the dining room. Although Madame ate her meals alone in the kitchen (where we were never invited), she sat with us during dinner and we were expected to converse with her as we ate. It was rough going at first, as you can imagine.
One dessert of hers that I still remember was a sort of pound cake that was made with yogurt and contained no butter. When I asked Madame how to make it, she said that it was so simple to make that she had no written recipe. My roommate and I had discovered creamy French yogurt and ate it for lunch almost daily. I really wanted to know how to make that yogurt cake…
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was reminded of Madame’s cake when I discovered a recipe by Susan Hermann Loomis in her fabulous account of her life in Normandy, “On Rue Tatin”. But her cake is chocolate-based and I wanted to use some of our lovely Meyer lemons. So, I turned to Ina Garten and her recipe for lemon yogurt cake in her “Barefoot Contessa At Home”.
My version of a French-inspired lemon yogurt cake includes the Meyer lemon zest and juice, extra vanilla and, for a twist, I used goat milk yogurt. The goat milk yogurt adds a tang and richness to the cake that got rave reviews in our family. I omitted the icing Ina suggests, as I wanted to keep the cake from becoming too sweet. The Meyers are much sweeter than regular lemons, so I just made a glaze for my cake.
Although I received no compensation for this post, I thank the folks at Redwood Hill Farm for their generosity in offering me several of their goat milk products.
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup goat milk yogurt
- 1⅓ cups white sugar, divided use
- 3 large eggs
- zest of 2 Meyer lemons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup canola oil
- ⅓ cup Meyer lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.
- Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir in the canola oil and mix well.
- Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Allow hot cake to rest for 10 minutes before turning onto a baking rack.
- In a small saucepan, heat the remaining ⅓ cup sugar with the lemon juice, just until sugar dissolves.
- Place the rack with the cake over a large plate and drizzle glaze over cake until it is absorbed.