A gentle breeze caresses the leaves of the lone lemon tree in the backyard, making its laden limbs sway enticingly within an arm’s reach. How easy it is to linger for a moment, to admire the clusters of plump, yellow fruits, with their fragrance-tickled skins, bearing the promise of a juicy pucker within. Picking a few irresistible specimens and nestling them in a handy basket prompts a little indulgence, in a simple yoghurt cake, rumored to be a classic snack handed out by French grandmothers to visiting little ones.
Would these fond grand-mères approve of their treasured recipe assuming a nom de plume in faraway kitchens, one wonders. Or, would they throw their hands up and exclaim, “Quelle horreur!” at the new additions, ginger and cardamom, which, in our books, add some joie de vivre to this homely version. As les citrons are zested and juiced, the flour and sugar measured and whisked, the butter and eggs creamed, one can’t help but say, c’est la vie, mesdames!
Lemon Yoghurt Snack Cake
1½ Cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons baking powder
¼ Teaspoon salt
3 Eggs, at room temperature
1 Cup sugar
½ Cup thick yogurt
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger paste
½ Cup of melted butter or neutral-tasting oil
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Select a baking pan for your cake – a 9″x5″ loaf pan, a round cake pan, or even a small curvy Bundt pan would work well. Line the base with some parchment paper and then grease the sides and bottom. Measure out the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt and mix them thoroughly. Set aside.
Choose a large mixing bowl and carefully break the eggs into it. Add the sugar and whip the mixture well using a wire whisk or an electric beater. Spoon in the yoghurt and blend it in along with the lemon zest, ginger and vanilla. Next, siphon in the dry ingredients and gently fold them in, taking care not to over-beat. Finally, add the butter or oil and stir until you get a smooth and silky consistency. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with barely any crumbs sticking to it. Tip the cake out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. Meanwhile, make the glaze –
1¼ Cup confectioners/icing sugar, sifted to remove lumps
2-4 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ Teaspoon powdered cardamom
Start by adding just 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the sifted sugar. Briskly stir with a fork or small whisk, adding more juice until it turns into a flowing glaze. Mix in the cardamom. Pour spoonfuls of the glaze on the cooled cake until the top is nearly covered, and some glaze drips over the sides. Cut into dainty slices, and as you enjoy the sweet-tart flavors, be sure to whisper a merci beaucoup to the grande dames..