Yogurt Cake Re-Visited
Mise en place for yogurt cake

Yogurt Cake Re-Visited

chocolate and orange
Yogurt Cake with Orange Marmalade

I have a dinner coming up, and I want to make a delicious but simple cake for dessert.  I considered plenty of options and settled on an old favorite, Yogurt Cake.  This, as those of you who have read On Rue Tatin, is a cake I discovered one day at my son’s school during a birthday party for a girl named Audrey.  I’d been to lots of school birthdays and tried lots of cakes, homemade and otherwise. This one made my taste buds sit up and take notice because it was lightly, perfectly vanilla scented, marbled with flavorful chocolate, rich with eggs, not too sugary. In short, the perfect cake, for me and every other person in the classroom.

It turns out that it’s the most banal cake in the French repertoire, made by school children since the 1950’s when some brilliant soul – I suspect someone who worked at Danone, but I haven’t been able to prove that – came up with the idea of having all the ingredients measured in an empty yogurt pot.  So, it was perfect for kids who loved mixing together 1 pot of yogurt, three pots of butter, four pots of flour, two pots of sugar and one pot of eggs and getting a cake to eat out of the whole exercise, for their afternoon snack, or gouter.

The reason I imagine Danone may be responsible for this cake is because thanks to an enterprising Spaniard named Isaac Carosso, yogurt was first made industrially in Barcelona through a system he invented.  His son Daniel brought yogurt to France in the form of a pill, called a “Vygardine,” which had little success. So, in 1929, Mr. Carosso junior launched a yogurt company called: “Société Parisienne du Yaourt Danone,” and the rest is history, in terms of French – and western European –  yogurt.  And, this is why I think someone at Danone invented the ever popular yogurt cake.

gateau marbre
Marbled Yogurt Cake

The cake endures not because kids love to make it by measuring the ingredients in little yogurt pots, though moms I know tend to find this pretty fun and easy too.  It’s because it tastes so good.  After all, I live in a country where gorgeous pastry shops are on every street corner offering delicate, shattery pastries that send you to heaven.  Yet yogurt cake is eternally in vogue and always popular.  It not only appeals to the French palate, but it appeals to the French home cook who can whip it up – with or without the children – in minutes and present its tender loveliness moments later.  It was a frequent offering for the afternoon snack, or goûter, at my house because it’s so quick and easy but you can fold into the batter everything from chocolate to apples to fresh cherries to raisins to…well, you see that the possibilities are endless.

For my dinner, then, I choose to make the chocolate swirl version, which I will dust with confectioner’s sugar and present with a small, sparkly amount of bitter orange marmalade, issue from my kitchen.  There will be accolades, I know, because I’ve done this before.  And while there would also have been accolades for the patissier’s wonderful pastries they wouldn’t have been the same. Because everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, loves a home-made cake.

The recipe is below. Note that I’ve translated the quantity of ingredients from the yogurt pot, to a more universal measure!










This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Paula Savage

    Looks like a delicious recipe! That looks like a models hand sifting the flour! Looking forward to visiting Paris next month. Hello from Middleton MA, USA!

  2. Lindsay Kinder

    This is such an important step before starting any recipe. I’ve gotten “caught” a few times, and if I had prepared my ingredients in advance, would have avoided a couple kitchen disasters, like…burnt apple compote!

    1. Susan

      or unfrozen salmon…just sayin’

  3. Isabel

    I have made this yogurt cake many many times and is a firm favourite of our family and friends in Sydney.

    1. Susan

      Isabel, that’s great news! How do you vary it?

    1. Susan

      It’s a great one! Dream (and taste) on…!

  4. Holly Boyle

    This looks Devine. Simple and Devine.

    1. Susan

      It’s a jewel of a recipe and you’ve described it perfectly!

  5. Linda Karpowich

    Susan when you spoke at Warwick’s in La Jolla recently, you mentioned the best yougurt cake recipe that you got from a school cake sale. Is this the cake?? or is there a different recipe.

    1. Susan


      This is the cake! Bon appetit!

  6. Katie

    Trying this recipe today as all the others using oil I am just not too sure of! I feel sure that the mamie’s of old would have used butter and not oil. I am a non-French mamie so it is a must I get this gouger favourite fixed in my repertoire 🙂 Big thanks.

    1. Susan

      Katie, I’ve never seen oil in this recipe, but I haven’t looked for it either When a cake or sweet bread recipe calls for oil (zucchini bread, for example) I always use melted butter instead. Tastes better, isn’t oily. This recipe may have originated with oil, but…good luck. It’s a simple great one.

  7. Katie

    Naughty spell text . . . Meant gouter!

    1. Susan

      no problem.

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