Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I thought that France was about as disinteresting as watching grass grow. I never, ever had any interest in visiting there. I have no idea why I felt this way…this sentiment came long before the days of Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast and what-have-you (by the way, I always thought that the aforementioned terms were ridiculous). France just didn’t do it for me. I was more of a Great Britain and Ireland kind of girl, perhaps because this is my heritage (not that I’ve ever been to any of these places…one of these days).
That, my friend, was before my obsession with Julia Child. I am fairly certain that I have mentioned before that I never really gave Julia much thought prior to watching her “chefography” on Food Network. Then it was on. I searched and searched for an old copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and finally found one (inscribed!) from 1965 on the shelf at my favorite used bookstore. For $6.95. Obviously we were meant to be to together.
I have made quite a few recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking-both the first and second volumes-and my reaction to those dishes has pretty much been, “If that’s what French cooking tastes like, sign me up!” These days, I’m all about France. One of these days I’ll make it over there, even if I have to endure the famous French disdain for U.S. citizens.
Just to be fun, I used this glass Pampered Chef bowl that has measurements marked off to measure all of my ingredients. I kind of felt like I was using a yogurt jar….kind of.
Anyway, last summer I became rather enthralled by French child-rearing methods as outlined in Bringing Up Bebe and French Kids Eat Everything. If these books are to be believed, the French take a completely different approach to parenting-and introducing foods-than us here in the good ol’ US of A. I won’t go into any detail about it, but it’s pretty fascinating.
Anyway, I don’t recall ever seeing a recipe for yogurt cake in either of my Julia Child cookbooks, but it’s mentioned in one of these two books (at the moment I don’t remember which one, and I’m way too lazy to get off the sofa to look and see). Apparently, French yogurt is much more delicious than what we have here (and therefore much more edible) and comes in cute little jars that are perfect for measuring the ingredients for this yogurt cake, which is the first recipe that many French children make with their parents.
Still, it never really occurred to me that I should actually make a yogurt cake, at least until I read A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenburg, who writes the phenomenal award-winning blog Orangette. Molly and I are about the same age, but she is light years ahead of me in her skills both in the kitchen and in the written word. Sigh. Her blog and book are fantastic, as she spins stories about her life, from childhood up to her wedding day (and now restaurant ownership and new parenthood) and ties each story to a relevant recipe. One of these days I’ll be able to do that. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway…
Molly spent time in France during college and early in her professional career (before realizing she didn’t want to do whatever it was she was doing), so she knows what’s up with French food. I trust her to tell me how to make it. It didn’t hurt that her recipe for yogurt cake was lemon yogurt cake, and lemon and I go together almost as well as bacon and I do. It’s a little-known fact that nearly every trip to the ice cream shop sends me into the throes of indecision as I try to choose between lemon custard and mint-chocolate chip. These are big decisions, folks.
I didn’t have any lemons in my fridge. I had tangerines, though, so there you go. Actually, I didn’t have yogurt either, at least not yogurt that didn’t have a thick sheet of mossy-green mold on top of it. Oops. Still, a trip to the grocery store yielded only yogurt because, as I said, I already had tangerines. They made a fine sub for lemons in this cake, which is soaked in a syrup and topped with a glaze that I adapted from the recipe for grapefruit olive oil cake in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman (yes, I do love that cookbook. Why do you ask?).
So here it is. Tangerine yogurt cake. Dense, bright, citrusy, sweet but not cloying. More simple than you could even imagine. Give it a chance. Make it with the kids.
Tangerine Yogurt Cake
|Prep time||15 minutes|
|Cook time||35 minutes|
|Total time||50 minutes|
|Allergy||Egg, Milk, Wheat|
|From book||Adapted from Orangette and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook|
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used full-fat)
- 1 Cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 Large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons tangerine zest
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/3 Cup plus 2 tablespoons tangerine juice
- 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
One "yogurt jar" is approximately equal to 1/2 cup.
Feel free to substitute any citrus you'd like here!
|Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a nine-inch round cake pan; line with parchment paper and butter this as well.|
|Combine the yogurt, 1 cup of granulated sugar, and eggs in a medium mixing bowl till well-combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and tangerine zest and stir until just combined. Add the oil and stir to make a smooth batter (this will take a couple of minutes). Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert onto a plate.|
|While the cake is still warm, combine the 1/3 cup of juice with the remaining 2 tbsp sugar and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Poke holes in the cake and pour the syrup over. Allow to cool completely.|
|When the cake is cool, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and remaining 2 tbsp juice. Pour the glaze over the cake. You can serve immediately or allow the glaze to set up before serving.|