The secret ingredient really makes this cake special.
We all have our favorite dishes that we remember our grandmothers making. For many people in France one of these happy dishes is the granny cake or gâteaux de mamie as it is known there. This comforting lemon cake has a twist on the ingredients that makes it rich, light, and a wonderful treat for teatime, special occasions, or really any time you’re craving something sweet and special to eat.
This cake recipe starts with some of the basics you’d expect from a lemon cake: flour, eggs, lemon zest, sugar. But, the thing that makes this one special is the use of yogurt. This gives a creamy and tangy finish to the cake. Traditionally in France the smaller 4 to 5 ounce containers of yogurt are used for this cake. It is common for home bakers there to use the yogurt container itself as the measuring device, much like cooks in the old days in the U.S. often used coffee cups for measuring. We’ve used standard measuring cups here to make it more modern, but what a charming little piece of history.
To begin this recipe you’ll need to combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and then add in flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir until just combined, but try not to over mix.
For this recipe you can use either the plain, lemon, or vanilla varieties of yogurt, but try to use whole fat yogurt. This gives a richness to the cake that makes it melt-in-your-mouth good.
Then add the oil to the batter and combine. Pour the cake batter into a lined and greased round 8-inch baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While the cake is cooling make the glaze which is just lemon juice and powdered sugar. If it comes out a bit too thin then add more sugar and if it’s too thick add a bit more lemon juice. You want the glaze thin enough to soak into the cake, but thick enough not to be runny.
After you’ve poured the glaze on and it has absorbed into the cake finish with a dusting of powdered sugar for an elegant touch. Make sure to give the glaze a few minutes beofre oyu complete this final step.
This is the perfect cake for a tea party or even for a brunch. Even if you didn’t grow up watching your own French granny making this type of cake, you can enjoy it now and taste why generations of French folks have loved this cake.
French Granny Cake (Gâteaux de Mamie)
Makes 12 slices of cake
25m prep time
40m cook time
Vegetarian diet suitable
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (or use one of the small glass containers of yogurt)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/ 4 - 1 cup cup of powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8” round cake pan with baking spray. Line bottom with circle of parchment paper and grease paper lightly.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs. Add flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.
- Add oil to batter and stir well until uniform in color and texture. Pour into cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cake should feel spongy to the tough.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out cake to finish cooling on a wire rack. While cake is cooling combine lemon juice and powdered sugar for the glaze.
- Slowly brush glaze onto partially-cooled cake, allowing it to soak in instead of running off. Allow to cool completely and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
Recipe adapted from The Café Sucre Farine.