I made this recipe twice. The first time, I doubled the recipe as I needed to be able to serve twenty ladies with it. It requires no butter, and mixes in one bowl!! It rose as it baked and looked pretty spectacular. I let it cool five minutes before running my thin knife around the edges and dumping it out of the loaf pan. It didn't want to come, didn't want to come then POP! it came out and landed on the rack. I say came out, but that's not the whole story. Most of it came out. The rest stayed in the pan. Why oh why did I spray not butter as Dorie recommended?
I may have said a bad word at this point. I mean, when will I learn not to start baking at 8:25 on a Sunday night? I oh so carefully extricated the second one with a thin, flexible silicone flipper and pondered my options. I would have to make another cake.
As I was measuring the almond meal, I realized that when I doubled the first recipe, I quadrupled the almond meal. So my first two loaves, even the one I eased out of the pan without incident, weren't going to be fit to eat. I forged on anyway, again doubling the recipe to make two cakes, baked and cooled them and went to bed (it was almost midnight, and the next day would be the first work day after the time change). I figured I would make lemon curd to serve with the cake and all would be well.
I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 to make lemon curd for the yogurt cake. I had skipped the marmalade glaze as I couldn't find lemon marmalade and I'm not big on orange marmalade. I had exactly enough eggs for a double recipe of lemon curd (this is one of my insanities; I double everything I make for social gatherings). I figured I would use the egg whites to make meringues as a fallback, pick up whipping cream at Safeway on my way home from work, and let the meringues sit in the oven all day while I worked. This is another of my insanities. Time is very elastic in my mind. I have to be at work at 8, and I do have to shower, dress, and drive to the office. Any reasonably sane person knows you're not going to pipe out 25 meringues and bake them, make lemon curd and get in to the office before 10:00. But that was my plan. And it hinged on not goofing up on cracking any of the eggs and thereby polluting the pristine whites, which have to be completely free of fat to whip to their airy best. Miraculously, I didn't have any yolk breakage, and all went according to plan with the curd, except I didn't cook it long enough and it was slightly eggy. I have existential difficulties in serving a dessert that isn't perfect. Eggy lemon curd? Not perfect.
This was when I went to plan C. I gave up on bringing a home baked dessert and went to Costco on my way home to buy a cheesecake and a chocolate cake. This I did even though I didn't yet know if the lemon curd was truly too eggy to serve. So I toddled on home, sliced a piece of the French Yogurt Cake, spooned the lemon curd over it, supplemented it with sliced organic strawberries, said a little prayer and took a bite.
It was amazing. The cake is perfect...it isn't exactly a pound cake, but it's not like a quick bread either. It has some lemon zest that hints at lemon without hitting you over the head. I made peace with the lemon curd. I washed and sliced the strawberries and relaxed. The world did not end.
But this, dear readers, is not the end of our story. The next day, I tasted the loaf with double the almond meal. It was wonderful, nay, almost better than the one I didn't screw up. I quickly threw together a batch of hot fudge and took it to work (with the leftover lemon curd). The Costco cakes I purchased but didn't need? They went to work, too. They were good, but not Dorie-good. As we know, that's a whole different level of flavor.
So this cake is not only good, it's easy, darn near impossible to mess up and it's beyond versatile. That's a real keeper in my book. I can't wait to make it again with cinnamon instead of lemon, or with maple syrup to replace some of the sugar. Or with chai spices. Or...
People ask me all the time "How are you not as big as a house with all the baking you do?" Even though I'm doing battle with an extra 20 pounds, I try to eat fairly healthy and one of the best tools for me has been recipes by Ellie Krieger. Maybe you've seen her on Food Network. I always thought she was a little smug, but once I tried her recipes, that girl can be as smug as she wants! Her food is delicious and healthy. She cuts out the unnecessary bad stuff and keeps the flavor, and most of her recipes are ridiculously simple.
Why am I telling you this? There's a group of us who make her recipes and blog about it. We call it Craving Ellie in My Belly. We take turns picking the recipe and we all blog about it on Thursdays. It's the perfect antidote to the poundage from Tuesdays with Dorie. If you'd like to join us, email Sara and Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ellie got me to eat, and even enjoy, brussels sprouts!