At this rate, I’m not sure why I’m shocked at just how good simple French recipes are. From Cherry Clafoutis and Tarte aux Poires (French Pear Tart) to Moelleux au Chocolat (Molten Chocolate Cake) and Pain Perdu (French Style French Toast). It’s almost as if the fewer ingredients used, the better the taste.
I remember when I first met my mother-in-law, I’d traveled from California and came straight from the airport. I ate on the plane but when she offered to whip up something quick for me — I, of course, obliged. Who would I be to turn down a French person’s offer to cook for you!? I will never forget what she made. I remind her every chance I get and she laughs each time because it was the most simple non-extraordinary plate on the planet. It was pasta with melted butter, gruyère, and little pieces of torn and cold jambon. True, the most humble plate of food, yet one of the best pastas I’ve tasted to date. It was also the first homemade French meal I ever had. That may have actually been the moment I looked at food differently forever.
Today’s cake honors the French history of simple ingredients combined together to make a classic. It’s simply not just a lemon cake. It’s the best lemon cake. It’s also simply not just a yogurt cake, it’s the best yogurt cake. The French make a lot of yogurt cakes and breads — so much so, that most yogurts are sold in jars with the perfect measurement to add to whatever recipe you’re working on. I’ve seen a lot of marble yogurt cakes there as well. The yogurt adds both flavor and moisture when baking. And in today’s recipe, it’s critical! You can use plain or Greek yogurt. You could even use sour cream or creme fraiche but to stay lighter, stick with yogurt. Once baked, the cake gets flipped over so the it’s bottom-up and has a nice flat surface for soaking up the lemon glaze that gets brushed on. It’s the definition of a delicious moist cake. Enjoy! 🙂