Ever make your own birthday cake? I did this year, although I really love making cake, so it’s definitely a treat and not a chore. This year, I was in Iowa for my birthday, away from some of my beloved gadgets and cookbooks, but I managed to make this simple cake from one of the greats, Dorie Greenspan. (Notice the dark outer crust from not having my cake strips with me). This recipe comes from her amazing book simply titled “Baking.”
I have made this cake several times. Once, I ground the almonds myself and after doing so will always use pre-ground almond flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill almond meal/flour. I just wasn’t able to get the grind as uniform and soft as Bob’s. The cake was still delicious, but the crumb a little gritty. Another time, I used almond extract in lieu of having almond flour or almonds available. It had an almond “taste,” but it was definitely not the same. I highly recommend using pre-ground almond flour for the best results. The recipe calls for a loaf pan, though I used the directions further down to make a 9 inch round.
French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking”
1 c AP flour
1/2 c ground almonds (or omit almonds and use another 1/2 c AP flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c flavorless oil
for the glaze:
1/2 c marmalade, strained
1 tsp water
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if using, baking powder and salt.
Put the sugar and zest in a medium 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 whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a rubber spatula and 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.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come 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.
To make the glaze:
Put the marmalade in a small saucepan, stir in the tsp of water and heat until the jelly is hot and liquified. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.
To make a layered and round french yogurt cake, make the cake in a buttered 9 x 2 inch round cake pan, baking it for 35-40 minutes. When the cake is cool, use a serrated knife to cut it horizontally into two layers. you can fill and frost the cake with whatever strikes your fancy, but it’s lovely filled with lemon cream or spread with jam or curd and frosted with sweetened whipped cream. Or turn the cake into a strawberry shortcake: spread the cut layer with strawberry jam, cover it with sweetened whipped cream and top with cut berries. Place remaining layer atop the berries, and finish the cake with clouds of whipped cream and a circle of big beautiful whole berries.