Gâteau au Citron

May your apartment possess a powerful air conditioner; may your evening be filled with the best of company, and may your cakes be always light and lemony.
~ Molly Wizenberg, Orangette

Cakes have personalities. You get motherly carrot cakes; seductive chocolate and berry cakes; dreamlike chiffon cakes… you catch my drift? According to Molly Wizenberg (and I am sure others would agree), this type of [yoghurt] cake “is an old classic in France, the sort of humble treat that a grandmother would make”… I am inclined to nod and go one further – it’s the sort of humble treat that warm and beautiful grandmothers with good humour would make… also, it’s not a cake I’m prepared to wait till I am grandmother-age to bake and serve!

Like a few other recipes I’ve tried from Molly’s impressive repertoire, this cake is at once down to earth and beautiful. Nothing immediately fancy; patient, accommodating. Happy to be served alone, or adorned with fancy hats of berries/icing/whatever. Yet it’s timeless, classy – Coco Chanel in cake form.

I served it unadorned save a light brushing of lemon glaze and dusting of icing sugar. Oh, and yes, with cups of tea.

    Gâteau au Citron or French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon
    Recipe adapted from Orangette
    For the cake:
    1/2 cup Greek honey yoghurt
    1 cup sugar
    3 large eggs
    3 jars unbleached all-purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    2 tsp grated lemon zest
    1/2 cup light olive oil
    For the glaze:
    juice from 2 lemons
    1/4 cup icing sugar
    Preheat the oven to 176°C.
    In a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and zest, mixing to just combine. Add the oil and stir to incorporate. Keep stirring until it comes together to form a smooth batter. Pour and scrape the batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan.
    Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
    Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
    When the cake is thoroughly cooled, combine the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.
    Serve at any time of the day.

PS. See Molly’s quote above? I am happy to say that came true for me… I ate slices of this cake with friends in our house, and left the heater off. :-) A nice feeling indeed!


6 responses to “Gâteau au Citron

  1. Ooh yum! It’s been a while since we’ve seen you here, Mellypoos!

  2. Amen to the air conditioning. Great looking cake, so light!

  3. it looks like a little cloud on a plate !

  4. If I had a lovely French grandmother with good humour, I’d totally be eating this cake at her house for afternoon tea. As it is, I’d have to make it for myself. But that’s not so bad… I love lemon cakes, so lovely yet understated :)

  5. Yum, Mel!

  6. Paul and Sophie – thank you!

    Greg – if you come over to New Zealand for a visit now, there is plenty of free air conditioning in the form of Winter winds!

    Millie – ditto.

    Satch – agreed ;-)

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