French Yogurt Cake Recipe
This French yogurt cake recipe is the perfect option when you’re looking for something sweet, simple, and homemade to enjoy. Whether it’s topped with some orange marmalade or a simple scoop of crème fraîche and fresh berries, you’re going to love this delicious cake.
History of French Yogurt Cake
It may seem strange, but the French actually don’t bake very much at home.
This is especially true for Parisians, and when you think about all the amazing bakeries and pastries shops nearby, it makes sense.
They can have high-quality, fresh baked goods within moments.
That leads one to wonder, why spend a few hours making a mille-feuille or macarons when you can just walk down the street and pick up a delectable one made by an artisanal baker?
But the French have a deep appreciation and love for home cooking and traditional recipes, which is why you will find them baking something delightful from time-to-time, right at home in their own kitchen.
This French yogurt cake is a staple for French home cooks.
This French yogurt cake recipe can be whipped up to celebrate a birthday, special dinner, or just a family gathering at the home.
Its versatility and ease make this cake one to add to your baking arsenal.
What does yogurt do to a cake?
Yogurt is often used in cakes in the same way sour cream is, as a moistening agent that helps the recipe yield a tender and fluffy crumb.
Not only that, but the tub in which it’s sold in in France is often the perfect size for measuring out the rest of the cake ingredients, making yogurt multi-purposeful.
In France, you’ll often find yogurt sold in 1/2 cup or 4 oz containers. So a cake recipe like this might list 1 tub of yogurt and 3 tubs of flour (i.e. 1 1/2 cups of flour).
Because it is less common to find plain yogurt in tub sizes like this, I’ve simply listed out the standard American measures in the recipe card below.
How to Make French Yogurt Cake
This French yogurt cake recipe doesn’t require any fancy equipment and is as foolproof as cakes get.
No need to worry about the cake sinking in the middle or having to decorate it once it’s done.
In fact, if you made it the traditional French way, you wouldn’t even really need more than a bowl and a whisk to create the batter because the French like to use the container from the yogurt that’s used in the batter to measure out all their ingredients!
One of the tricks I like to do to make this simple cake really shine is to rub the sugar and lemon zest together before I whisk everything together in the bowl.
This small step helps impart extra fresh, vibrant flavor from the lemon to the cake.
Once I’ve done that, I simply combine the rest of the ingredients and pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
Does yogurt cake need to be refrigerated?
No, you don’t need to refrigerate the cake.
I’ve left the cake wrapped up in plastic wrap on the counter for a few days and it’s been just fine!
Topping Your Cake
You can top your yogurt cake with anything you’d like, including fresh fruit or a fruit jam.
Other favorite toppings include crème fraîche and ice cream.
When I eat a slice for breakfast, I often add nothing and simply enjoy its lovely texture and aroma on its own with a cup of coffee.
The cake has a tender, moist, and fluffy texture, with a crumb that melts in your mouth, flooding your senses with the warm taste of vanilla and sugar.
In a way, this French yogurt cake recipe can be thought of as a lighter and fluffier version of the American pound cake.
I highly recommend giving this cake a try the next time you’re in the mood to bake something perfectly sweet and easy!
Gluten-free yogurt cake
Because I’ve gotten questions asking how to make this cake gluten-free, I want to tell you that you can reduce the eggs to 2 eggs, and simply swap in a gluten-free flour blend 1:1 for the all-purpose flour in this recipe.
Just note that you’ll want to make sure the gluten-free flour blend has xantham gum in it.
I like to use the Good & Gather Gluten-Free Flour Blend from Target.
Dairy-Free Yogurt Cake
Another question I’ve gotten is how to make this cake dairy-free. You’ll need to substitute the plain yogurt with plain coconut milk yogurt.
A 1:1 swap will work nicely. You can also swap out the vegetable oil for coconut oil to enhance a bit of the coconut flavor.
It tastes great and has gotten rave reviews from my dairy-free taste-testers!
French Yogurt Cake Recipe
A moist and fluffy French cake made with yogurt and staple baking ingredients.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flavorless oil (canola, grapeseed)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest together, using your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs and whisk until pale yellow and light.
- Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Now add the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk just until batter is smooth.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold the oil into the batter; the cake batter will look glossy once you’re done.
- Pour the batter into a greased 1 lb. loaf pan and bake the cake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Flip the cake out onto a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 8 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 173mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 5g
Is Greek yogurt ok or should it be made with the thinner yogurt?
Yes definitely! I’ve used Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt which is very similar in consistency to Greek too.
Just wondering if I can make this recipe in a Bundt pan.
Hi Nancy! You’ll just want to be mindful of the pan size. If you’re using a larger one, then you’re not going to get as much height with the recipe as is. I’d probably 1.5x the recipe.
made this yesterday and it turned out great! i used vanilla infused coconut sugar and did a 1:1 sub, and it added a caramel-y flavor that was fantastic.
Hi! Will it make a difference if I use nonfat yogurt and if I used Monk fruit instead of sugar? Just trying to stay on top of my house without having to get up too much. Thank you so much! Mary
Hi Mary! The nonfat yogurt won’t be a problem (the cake may not be as moist because of the lack of fat content, but nothing too detrimental), but the monk fruit will needed to be adjusted rather than used as a 1:1 substitute for granulated sugar. Monk fruit is much, much sweeter than sugar, so you would need to play around with how much monk fruit you use. I have never used monk fruit, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what that would be for this recipe.
Thank you for responding as quickly. I will make it following your recipe than try with lowfat yogart and monk fruit and let you know how it goes.
This recipe is amazing! I made if GF with the change of adding an extra egg and baking 51 minutes at 325. My daughter just cut into it still warm and said “You only made one? That’s not right”. Looking forward to making this again and again. I believe I will add the juice of 1/2 the lemon next time. Thank you!
Oh awesome! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing your GF tweaks too for others 🙂
I’m so glad you commented, because I read this thinking about how to make it gluten free!
I love lemon, so I’ll try adding that lemon juice as well!
Do you remember which GF flour(s) you used? It’ll help me and others to have a base point. (You might already know, but in case you or anyone else doesn’t: the different pre-mixed GF flours vary by brand and line within brand. You can find out approximate makeups online from DIY versions of each.)
I’m thinking of using avocado oil to be a little healthier as well. I’m guessing it’ll taste a little closer to an avocado cake (what I call an olive oil cake I make with avocado oil, I like the flavor more) than the purer taste of this original recipe. I’ll try to remember to update this when I do.
Beeta, do you happen to know if this is more common in any particular region of France? My family has many passed down French recipes, and I suspect one was probably the Canadian or New England adaptation of a yogurt cake but find it interesting that there wasn’t a closer recipe.
Also, you also might find it interesting to know that I found this from learning French, as one of my exercises referenced yogurt cake!
Thanks for sharing this, especially with the commentary about how the French do things. I enjoy trying to learn things that may have missed us or not passed down in my family. Now, I’m even looking to move there (coincidentally, not actually related to ancestry), hence learning French. Of course I’m in the first generation of my family not to speak French fluently!
Hi there! I actually recently made this recipe for a couple of friends who were gluten-free and dairy-free. What I did was use Target’s brand Good & Gather of gluten-free flour blend (which contains xantham gum – very important). I used this one-for-one, then used coconut yogurt instead of regular milk yogurt. I also used coconut oil to add to the “coconut” touch. I reduced the eggs down to 2 eggs, and the finished cake was a big hit! 🙂
Hi- this is my son’s favorite cake with the substitution of almond meal for 1/3 of the flour. I sometimes double it and bake in 9″ cake pans. Turns out terrific.
Fabulous, Susie! Thanks so much for the feedback! <3