Last spring, I was reading a book that had recently been published called ~ Bonjour, Happiness! by Jamie Cat Callan. It's a really fun read about the authors memories of her French grandmother, memorable meals/foods, her time living/traveling in France & how she has applied what she has learned to make her life more happy. The thing that was really cool about the book was the recipes that were sprinkled here & there, little food gems just begging to be made & enjoyed. One recipe that really tweaked my fancy was for a lemon yogurt cake with an unusual sugar topping (page 86 on the book preview link). It reminds me of some simple French Yogurt Cake recipes that I've seen on the Internet, but with a twist. Since I love lemon cake so much, I just had to try it.
Here is my adapted version of the recipe from the book. I know I will be tinkering with the recipe some more, I want to try making it with some Meyer lemons next time & want to amp up/really heighten the sunny lemon flavor. I just gotta say, the lemon sugar syrup topping that you pour over the finished cake is amazing!! I was so impressed by it & I'm a hard sell when it comes to using a lot of sugar in a cake, but with this recipe, I will make an exception ~ it's that good.
I think the cake is best served when it has completely cooled & the lemon flavor has had a chance to totally soak in. I really like it when the sugar topping has turned nice & crunchy/crusty. I think the cake tastes just as good the second day, too. The author prefers the cake served slightly warm, topped with whipped cream (I didn't feel the cake needed the whipped cream, the sugar topping is the star & perfect as is) & then eaten/finished the same day. Different strokes for different folks. Either way you enjoy it, it's a wonderful lemon cake. Bon Appétit!
Lemon French Yogurt Cake with Sugar Crunch Topping* adapted from the recipe ~ The Mary Kelly Lemon Cake, from the book ~ Bonjour, Happiness!
for the lemon cake batter
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 4 Tbsp margarine
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup plain non fat or regular yogurt
- zest from one lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar (or enough to create a syrupy consistency)
- juice of one whole lemon
Preheat oven to 350*F degrees. Grease cake pan & set aside. (I liked using the square pan for a change)
Sift together the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, cream together margarine, 2 Tbsp lemon juice & sugar until light & fluffy. Add egg & beat at high speed for 1 minute. Alternately add yogurt & flour mixture in 3 additions, with mixer at low speed. When batter is finished, stir in lemon zest.
Pour batter into the greased cake pan & smooth top with a spatula. Bake in center of oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.
While cake is baking, make the crunchy sugar topping ~ combine sugar & lemon juice until it forms a syrupy consistency. Spread the lemon syrup topping evenly over the cake as it comes out of the oven. Set cake, in its pan, on a wire rack to cool. As the cake cools, the topping will harden & form a crunchy sugar crust over the cake.
Enjoy either completely cooled OR slightly warm. I suggest you try it both ways & see which is your favorite way to eat it. That's how I decided I prefer it completely cooled. :)