Sunday, May 26, 2013

French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon

Events have unfolded… I need to take a deep breath and accept things as they happen one day at a time. DFJ got a job in Maryland and we are moving. Yes, moving thousands of miles away from a place we now consider home. I took one big luggage with me halfway around the world 6 years ago and stepped into a new country with no idea what life here would be like and everything turned out well. In fact, it was even better than what I had ever dreamed of. I was taken care of by the most gracious and loving host parents, made good friends who helped me feel at home, worked with really awesome people, and recently got married to the most amazing man I know. Moving across the country should not be a big deal, right? There are good people everywhere and the biggest consolation is that I will not be moving alone this time.

But… it’s still sad and I feel the need to honor this sadness. I am also scared of stepping into yet another unknown. After this school year, I will not have a job and will be pretty much dependent on my husband until something comes up. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Last Sunday, as I anticipated DFJ’s return from Maryland, I baked the morning away. It was a lovely experience… I did not feel compelled to rush the process and just took my time measuring ingredients, whisking and mixing everything, gently stirring the batter, and cleaning up the mess. All of it was a familiar ritual that soothed my nerves as I was nervous and excited for this job opportunity that DFJ might get. The weirdest part was that, I was even keen about moving and toyed with the idea of starting over in a new place as a newly married couple. When DFJ got the job offer this week, I was genuinely happy for him. However, when the reality of what moving away from our life here would entail, all that excitement dissipated in an instant. That means I will have to say goodbye to the best job ever and my wonderful students, the people who have been my family here, our good friends, and our great community.


 The rollercoaster of emotions that my little heart has gone through in the past couple of days was calmed and comforted by this cake. Thank goodness I took the time to bake it last Sunday! This cake was at the centerpiece of our conversations as we pondered on what the next few months will look like. We sat at the dining table and talked about moving, summer getaways, and responsibilities until the sun disappeared, all the while digging our forks and eating bite after bite of this cake right off the platter.  

This cake is simply delicious. It is soft and moist with some heft from the spelt flour. The sweetness is gentle with surprise bursts of tartness from the lemon syrup. The olive oil gives it a roundness of flavor and the lemony tang is like a ray of sunshine in each bite.

A humble cake that celebrates both good and bittersweet moments in life.

French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon
Adapted from A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg
1½ cups spelt flour (190 g or 6½ oz)
2 teaspoons baking powder (8 g or ¼ oz)
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons lemon zest
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt (120 g or 4¼ oz), well-stirred
¾ cup sugar (150 g or 5¼ oz)
3 large eggs
½ cup olive oil (100 g or 3 5/8 oz)
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup powdered sugar
a tad of butter for greasing the pan

Move an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pat dots of butter all over a 9-inch, round cake pan. Use your fingers to spread the butter all over the inner surface of the pan, including the sides.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt well together. Add the lemon zest and whisk well until the clumps are spread out evenly in the dry mixture.

In another large bowl, mix the yogurt, sugar, and eggs with a fork. Stir everything well together until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and gently stir until just combined. There should be a few traces of dry ingredients left. Pour in the olive oil and stir well. Don’t fret if it seems like the batter will never absorb the oil. Just keep stirring until all the oil is incorporated and you are left with a silky smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Move the pan into the oven and bake for 26-30 minutes. Your cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. The sides will also turn into a nice, golden brown and will slightly pull away from the pan.

Place the cake pan on a wire rack and let it cool for 15 minutes. Run a flat, plastic spatula along the sides of the cake to help it loosen up, place a plate over the cake pan, and invert the cake onto the plate. Place the cooling rack over the cake bottom and invert the cake once more so that the cake is now resting on the rack, with the top facing up. Set the rack over your serving platter and place the platter on a rimmed, baking sheet. The purpose of this baking sheet is to prevent lemon syrup spillage from going everywhere on your counter.

In a small, glass bowl, whisk well together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until all the sugar clumps disappear and the syrup is smooth. Using a spoon, pour the syrup on top of the warm cake. Some of the syrup will run down the sides. No big deal, that’s what the baking sheet is for.

Very gently slide the cake off the cooling rack onto the serving platter. Serve immediately or wait until the cake has completely cooled. It is lovely either way.       


  1. Wow, so many life changing decisions in the past couple of months! All the best on your move!
    This looks great. I really need to try spelt flour!

  2. Congrats to you both! Good luck on the move!

  3. Such a big change is both so scary and so exciting! But I think as long as you two are together, it will all be for the best!

    What a lovely cake!


Let me know what your thoughts are... Your comments always make my day!