Even though we come from different worlds – my life (in some ways) depends on gluten, and her life (in some ways) depends on avoiding it. But Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl both share a common love of cooking and baking. and that’s good enough for me. (I’ve never asked her, but I hope she feels the same.)
We met several years ago when I was in Seattle. At the time, I didn’t know much – actually, anything – about gluten-free eating…but it was interesting to see how recipes and life could be adapted to eat in a different way without feeling deprived. Much had to do with cooking with real ingredients and when you have an intolerance, you pay more attention to your diet and how you are feeding yourself. And it’s pretty hard to argue with that, no matter what you need, or choose, to eat.
Oddly, I’ve never chosen to make a French yogurt cake, which is a classic that I think everyone in France grew up eating. So I was prompted by spotting a recipe for one in Gluten-Free Girl Everyday which is filled with recipes that Shauna makes for her family, toujours. In France, it is obligatoire to make this cake using pots of yogurt, as the ingredients are scooped into the emptied yogurt cups, which are then used for measuring out the rest of the ingredients. So next time a non-American gets irked at me because American recipes are in cups, I’ll point out that the French have their own homespun version that works pretty darned well.
This particular version of this cake uses lemon and being gluten-free, Shauna makes hers with her gluten-free flour mix. (Her recipe is in the book, and it uses just three ingredients!) But it worked great with wheat flour in my Parisian kitchen. But because we’re American, we can’t resist taking things closer to over-the-top..especially when it comes to lemon, so there’s a tangy lemon glaze drizzled over the lemon-scented cake. A friend from Provence had brought me some beautiful lemons from her tree that were just waiting to get used, so it was kismet. Which I tried to translate into French the other day, and I kind of got a few blank stares.
I also couldn’t resist fussing with the recipe, thinking I would make it in a bundt pan to fancy it up. (Which is odd, because I usually tell people not to mess with recipes until they’ve made it the way it’s written.) Unfortunately I learned why French traditions are, well – traditions, and realized that I should have stuck to them and used a regular round cake pan. Even though I had greased the bundt pan well, the silky cake batter was no match for those ridges and crannies.
So I recommend that you stick with the 9-inch (23 cm) round pan. And after snacking on lemony cake scraps for a few days (which, for some reason, always taste the best), I decided to make it again.
I would have liked to have shown you the inside of this cake, but it got whisked away for a birthday party and was quickly gobbled down by all. Since Parisians aren’t so keen on being followed around by an American toting a camera, and I have the bruises to prove it, you’ll have to take my word for it. But it was gratifying to see people enjoying a classic cake, that had made the trek all the way from France to Seattle, then back again to France.
One liberté I did take was to pair it with a warm apricot-cherry compote. I had gone to the market the other morning and because of the brisk, chilly weather, I neglected to realize that it was almost summer. So was surprised to see fresh cherries and apricots aplenty. I scooped up a bag of each, brought them home, and baked them into a juicy compote to serve alongside.
Lemon Yogurt Cake with Apricot-Cherry Compote
- 1 1/2 cup (210g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminium-free
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
- 1 cup (250g) whole milk plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or colza/canola
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- zest of 2 lemons, unsprayed or organic
- 1 1/2 cup (210g) powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Apricot-Cherry Compote (Serves 4 to 6, can be scaled up)
- 1 1/2 pounds (700g) fresh apricots, halved and pitted
- 2 cups (280g) fresh cherries, pitted, sweet or sour
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup (65 – 100g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup (80ml) rosé, white wine (dry or sweet), or water
- a few drops almond or vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Butter or oil a 9-inch (23 cm) cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Use a whisk to mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs, lemon juice, and zest until smooth.
- Mix about one-third of the dry ingredients into the yogurt mixture, then stir the rest in, in two batches, just until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- While the cake is cooking, toss the apricots, cherries, sugar, honey, wine, and extract in a baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 350ºF (180ºC) oven until the fruit is soft and fully cooked through; depending on ripeness, it will take between 20 and 30 minutes.
- Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, then run a knife around the outside of it to loosen it from the pan, and tip the cake out of the pan. Remove the parchment paper and let the cake cool completely, right side up, on a wire rack.
- To glaze the cake, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Pour it in the center of the top of the cake. Use a spoon or spatula to spread it gently right to the end, then let the glaze drip down the side. Serve the cake with the apricot-cherry compote either warm or at room temperature, perhaps with vanilla ice cream.
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