This week's choice for "Tuesdays with Dorie" was the French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze, chosen by Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction. (Liliana, you're not the only one around here with a cookbook addiction!) You can find the recipe on Liliana's blog, and there are also variations posted on Epicurious and Serious Eats. And, of course, it's in the cookbook we all bake from -- "Baking: From My Home to Yours," by Dorie Greenspan.
I had a feeling I was going to like this cake, so I actually made it twice. The first time was a lemon version, with all flour (no almond meal). I used bleached flour and made cupcakes. The only other adjustment was to reduce the baking powder to 1 3/4 teaspoons, as I have read that too much baking powder can make for flat cupcakes. The recipe made 12 lovely, nicely domed cupcakes with a subtle lemon/vanilla flavor. (Baking time was about 20 minutes.) They just cried out for an intensely lemony filling and frosting!
I went with the Lemon Cream on page 461 of "Baking" -- which is actually the same as the filling for the Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart on page 331-333. This was a past TWD pick, chosen by Mary of Starting From Scratch. Her blog seems to have been discontinued, but you can find the recipe on Serious Eats, and read some extra hints from Dorie on her own Web site.
Wow! This stuff really is extraordinary! (I really wanted to lick out the blender jar--ended up resorting to spatula and fingers to reach down to the bottom.) The cream has a lovely soft texture and intense tart-sweet-creamy-lemony flavor. (I did modify the recipe very slightly by adding 2 teaspoons of home-made lemon extract. It's not nearly as intense as store-bought extract--I made it by steeping grated lemon zest in vodka for about 6 weeks, then straining out the zest.) The cream's texture is really a bit too soft and runny for a good frosting -- it's sort of halfway between a frosting and a sauce. But who cares when it tastes that good!
My second cake was the Riviera variation with ground almonds (blanched and lightly toasted,then ground), strained yogurt (amazing how much water drained out!), olive oil, and the zest from a Meyer lemon. I thought the cupcakes were just a bit on the sweet side, so I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup. That was perfect! I took two teaspoons of dried Herbes de Provence from Penzeys, ground it up fine in the coffee grinder I use as a spice grinder, steeped it for 30 minutes or so in warm olive oil, then strained the herbs out.
When I made the cupcakes, I found it was a bit difficult to stir in the oil at the end. So for the loaf, I just used the standard quick-bread or "muffin method" (as Alton Brown calls it). I mixed together all the dry ingredients except the flour & zest. In another bowl, I rubbed the zest into the sugar, then beat in all the wet ingredients -- eggs, yogurt, vanilla, oil. Then I made a well in the dry ingredients, dumped in the wet ingredients, and mixed gently until just combined. It seemed to work just as well and was easier as far as I'm concerned!
Since the loaf was baked in a Pyrex pan, I reduced the oven heat to 325 F, but even so, the cake took less time to bake than Dorie said. (I may have to check my oven temperature.) It was very brown on the outside, but tasted fine, and the crust and was not hard or tough.
As for topping, I'm pretty sure the local Woodman's store carries lemon marmalade, but I didn't have time for a shopping run. So I brushed the cake with a syrup made from Meyer lemon juice and sugar, plus some home-made Meyer lemon extract. Wonderful! My husband liked this version the best, but I preferred the cupcakes. We're both happy!