Bastille Day 2014

 Bonjour Billy,

I was thinking so much about France last week (as I mentally prepared for Bastille Day) and I was remembering how, when we lived there, so many French people literally couldn’t say “Libby” so it always came out “Billy.”  It still makes me laugh.

I know you were traveling home from Montana on Bastille Day, so my guess is you didn’t do too much to commemorate.  I, however, having missed the Fourth of July for work, decided to make up for it in spades by celebrating the French Day of Independence with gusto.  Really, it just means I made and ate a lot of food.  But it did have a French theme.

I won’t regale you with the entire day’s menu all at once - but rest assured, Nutella was involved (shit, who am I kidding?  That's everyday...).  I will, however, tell you about our dessert.  One of my all-time faves:  Gateau au Yaourt or, simply, yogurt cake. 


I am sure you will remember this cake – a slightly mellower version of yellow cake, and so moist and delicious.  It is perfect for just about anything: dinner parties or holidays because you can make it ahead and it only gets better with time; breakfast because it is not too sweet; afternoon snack, because it is substantial enough to bridge the looooooooong gap between lunch and dinner, etc.  Plus, if you like adding fruit to desserts, this is the perfect cake for that.  Whether along side as a compote or baked into the batter, it pairs well with just about any fruit – so it’s great anytime of year. 

The recipe is simple (I remember reading once that as a classic dessert of French children, it is designed to all be measured using a a little 8oz yogurt container) and the results are fantastic.

There weren’t any fireworks on Bastille day, but we did eat cake!

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Gateau Au Yaourt

Oven at 350.  Grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch cake pan lined with parchment.

1 ½ C flour

1 ½ t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 C whole milk, plain yogurt* (see note below)

1 C sugar

large pinch coarse salt

1 tsp vanilla

½ C vegetable oil

2 eggs

Zest of one lemon (or other citrus – all optional)

8 oz of any of your favorite fruit (also optional)

Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, then set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt (greek or strained, see below), sugar, salt and vanilla.  Next, whisk in oil, adding in a steady stream.  Add eggs, one at a time, then zest, if using. Whisk dry ingredients into wet until combined and most lumps are gone. Pour into prepared cake pan, gently smoothing the top, then top with fruit, if using.  Bake for 35 -45 minutes, or until golden and gently risen and cake tester comes out clean.

If not eating the same day, store in cake pan covered with foil or plastic wrap.  Do not store in airtight container or it will get too moist – aka, soggy.

*Note: Greek yogurt is best for this recipe.  If you don't like/don't have access to/don't want Greek yogurt, buy regular whole milk yogurt. Thicken by straining yogurt through a fine mesh sieve covered with cheese cloth for 6-8 hrs in the fridge. Then, use as above.