Wednesday, September 24, 2008

French Yogurt Cake with Toasted Almonds

I made this recently for my friend Jill's birthday. I know she doesn't like a big fuss, so a simple french yogurt cake seemed perfect. I dressed it up a bit with almond cream and toasted almonds. The birthday girl says she loved it!

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's French Yogurt Cake
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup ground almonds (or, if you'd prefer, omit these and use another ½ cup of all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup plain yogurt *low-fat will work*
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Grease an 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pan and place it on a baking sheet. * I used a 9-inch springform pan for a taller, traditional-looking cake*
  2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds (if you're using them), baking powder, and salt.
  3. Put the sugar and zest in a mixing bowl, and with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla and blend well. Add the dry ingredients, then fold in the oil. You'll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  4. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan; it should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold, and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.
*I then spread the almond cream on the top, followed by a sprinkling of the almonds, but you can try other combinations. It's also delicious served plain.*

Martha Stewart's Almond Cream
*You may want to double this recipe*
  • 4 tbs butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg *If you don't want to use a raw egg, try 2 tsp mayonnaise*
  • ½ cup whole blanched almonds, finely ground in the food processor
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp pure almond extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Add the ground almonds and flour, and beat until combined. Stir in the almond extract and salt. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The almond cream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Toasting the almonds

Pour 1 cup of slivered, blanched almonds into a dry nonstick pan and shake the pan every few minutes, until lightly toasted and aromatic. Or spread 1 cup of slivered, blanched almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast lightly in a 200º preheated oven for 20 minutes.