My inspiration for this recipe is the classic French yogurt cake. According to cookbook author and baking expert Dorie Greenspan, this is one of the very few baked goods the French will actually make at home because of its simplicity — with all of the amazing patisseries available to them, most sweets are purchased instead of being homemade. Most of the ingredients are already in most peoples' pantries and refrigerators and since its base is so simple, this cake makes a great blank canvas for extra flavor addition and experimentation.
For my twist on the original recipe, I substituted Greek for regular yogurt as it's a bit tangier, added lemon zest for a zing of brightness, and threw in some fresh thyme leaves as it goes very well with lemon and adds an herbaceous note. Instead of the vegetable oil that the original recipe called for, I used olive oil in its place to add a deeper yellow color to the batter. The powdered sugar glaze adds an extra touch of sweetness, but it's totally optional. This cake would also be amazing with any other type of citrus, too: grapefruit, key lime, tangerine — you name it.
Give this foolproof recipe a whirl this weekend to wake up your taste buds to the light, bright flavors of the new season. My biggest piece of advice would be that all of the mixing must be done by hand; don't use a stand or hand mixer as it will over-beat the flour, thus overworking the gluten in the flour and making it dense.
Glazed Lemon-Thyme Yogurt Cake
Makes 1 medium loaf
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (sea or Kosher salt)
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1/2 large lemon
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine.
Put the sugar, lemon zest and thyme in a large bowl. Work them together with your fingers for about 30 seconds to infuse the sugar with the zest and thyme. Mix in the yogurt, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla and whisk thoroughly to combine.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the dry flour mixture into the wet yogurt/sugar mixture in three parts until completely combined and no white flour is showing; do not over-mix.
Spray or grease a medium loaf pan and sprinkle some flour inside, tapping it around to lightly coat the inside of it. Shake off excess flour. Pour cake batter into loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan; let cool down a little longer before slicing.
For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and zest (if using) until smooth. Pour it over the cake just after removing from pan to let it set up and harden, or drizzle it on the cake right before serving.