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French Lemon Yogurt Cake

4.75 from 4 votes

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A classic, easy lemon loaf cake recipe perfect for home bakers. It’s moist, lemony and foolproof to make.

French Yogurt Lemon Loaf Cake

French yogurt cake is a plain and simple loaf cake, something like a cross between a lemon pound cake and a traditional sponge cake.

This super moist lemon cake recipe recipe is one you can whip up without fuss when the mood strikes.

A recipe like this is like a basic white t-shirt — a staple baking recipe to always have in your back pocket.

Classic French Yogurt Cake

You basically only need two bowls and a loaf pan to make the cake — no need for a mixer at all!

Baking maven Dorie Greenspan, whose book this recipe is adapted from, writes that pretty much every home cook in France makes this “absolutely foolproof” cake at one time or another — for birthdays, afternoon tea or impromptu dinner guests.

Once you try it, you’ll see why.

It’s kind of perfect, actually.

The golden crust has a nutty bite, while the inside crumb is moist, tender and buttery-tasting.

Even though there’s no butter in the recipe (except for coating the loaf pan) this cake has the pleasingly rich taste of a pound cake, but with a lighter texture.

Does yogurt make a cake moist?

Adding any kind of fat to a cake batter makes it moist.

But yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk also contribute a tasty tang and tenderness to the crumb.

In addition to plain whole milk yogurt, this cake is enriched with neutra-tasting vegetable oil instead of butter.

I sometimes use a mix of 1/2 canola oil and 1/2 Italian lemon olive oil.

Classic French Lemon Yogurt Cake

French lemon yogurt cake is so good!

If you need convincing, here’s why:

  • You probably have all the ingredients on hand to make the cake right now.
  • There’s no need to haul out the electric mixer — all you need are two bowls and a whisk to mix.
  • A slice of French lemon yogurt cake is perfect when it’s time for a cup of tea.
  • Possibly the best reason to bake this: You get to massage lemon zest with sugar! If you’ve never rubbed lemon zest between grains of sugar, you’re missing out. It’s like an aromatherapy session times ten 🙂
Classic French Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe

Freezing Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon yogurt cake can be frozen and stored up to 2 months.

Let it cool completely, then wrap securely in two layers of plastic wrap before placing in the freezer.

Like most cakes, this one is even better the next day.

The texture stays tender and moist, and somehow seems improve with age (if it lasts that long).

For cake more than a day or two old, bring it back to life by toasting it and spreading with a little butter and jam (YUM).

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Serving the cake

For serving, I love to just dust the loaf with some powdered sugar and cut into thick slices. Easy peasy.

Or make a (dairy-free) creamy glaze:

  • Put 1 1/2 cups powdered confectioner’s sugar in a bowl.
  • Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice – just enough to make a thick glaze
  • Whisk in 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

If you want to dress this cake up, follow Dorie’s suggestion for serving the cake with a side of lightly sweetened crème fraîche.

It’s lovely, tangy match with the lemon-scented cake, even better than whipped cream.

Plus it makes this dessert seem extra-French. Ooh la la!

French Yogurt Lemon Loaf Cake

French Lemon Yogurt Cake

Karen Tedesco
An easy lemon cake recipe for tender French yogurt cake. This simple loaf cake makes a perfect snack or tea cake.
Print Pin
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine cake
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon softened butter for pan
  • 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (225 g) plain whole milk yogurt, I like Greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower

Instructions 

  • Center oven rack and preheat to 350 (175C) degrees. Butter a standard loaf pan and lightly coat with flour, tapping out the excess.
  • Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  • Put the sugar in a medium bowl with the zest and rub with your fingertips until sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, and eggs. Whisk until blended, then add the oil and whisk until emulsified.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and fold with a spatula or wooden spoon until no flour is visible.
  • Scrape the batter into pan and bake 50-55 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  • Transfer pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Run a blunt knife around edges before unmolding onto a rack to cool, right side up.

Notes

To make a creamy, dairy-free glaze:
  • Put 1 1/2 cups powdered confectioner’s sugar in a bowl.
  • Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice – just enough to make a thick glaze
  • Whisk in 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Variations:
  • You can sub the same amount of vanilla yogurt for the plain. If you do, reduce the amount of sugar in the batter to 3/4 cup.
  • Use a half and half mixture of neutral vegetable oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Italian lemon oil is amazing!
Slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 299mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 167IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Instagram!!

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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12 Comments

  1. thank you for the recipe. I have made it a few times already it’s quick and easy and good. I appreciate the weight in grams.

    1. I’m so glad you like it Leora! I’ve been trying to convert all my baking recipes to add gram measurements.

  2. Looks so delicious! I love lemon and yogurt together ♥

  3. It did come out finally and all in one piece. I split it in half, slathered the middle with raspberry jam, then put down a layer of fresh raspberries before replacing the top layer. Then I coated it with slightly sweetened whipped cream and topped it with more raspberries.

    It was delicious.

    Liza

  4. Oh, that’s not good. Maybe you can patch it up and put icing/cream on the outside.

    I actually buttered and floured the pan, even though the DG’s recipe doesn’t. It’s just a little insurance against sticking.

  5. I “cheated,” sort of. I have the original cookbook and DG suggested treating it like a layer cake as a fancier option. Of course I fell for that. But now it won’t come out of the cake pan.

    Liza

  6. Filling it like a layer cake? That sounds good. Try the lemon cream recipe on page 461 of the book. It’s OUTRAGEOUS.

  7. Safely at home on a snowy day, I decided to make this — inspired by your photos! I baked it in a round 9″ cake pan and am going to split it and fill it with something tomorrow before I take it to a friend’s house for dinner. I don’t know how I am going to keep my hands off it today!

    Liza

  8. I can’t believe you didn’t have any lemon marmalade lying around.

  9. ooohh…this is going to be my next baking project for sure! I think I will doctor it with some poppy seeds because V loves the lemon-poppy seed combination.

  10. Deborah Dowd says:

    Your cake looks great! And the lemon zest and sugar seems therapeutic! I am going to try this one!

    Deborah

    BTW: Your’s is a great site and I have linked to it because it includes stories and recipes that I think would resonate with my readers. Great recipes and pictures (I am only just learning to photograph food, am I am findng that is about as easy as photographing a hyperactive two-year old!)

  11. I have been eyeing that recipe too…yours looks fantastic!

    I take that book everywhere… I read it to my daughter at night, read it in the carpool line at school, dream about it at night. I love it!