Gâteau au Citron–French Style Lemon Yogurt Cake

by cakeduchess on April 12, 2011 · 52 comments


God, do I miss baking. It’s been over a week since I’ve baked and I’m going through a slight withdrawal. I baked this little beauty when my in-laws first arrived from Italy 3 weeks ago. Teresa wanted me to show her how to make a cake with yogurt.

I had been dreaming of this cake while reading Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life. I’m not sure why I was reading it every night leading up to my surgery. But I was. You take for granted the good health you have. I think it is easy to do.  I found reading to bring me peace and serenity.
This  Gâteau au Citron is a cake that Molly posted on her blog in 2004. Molly says the cake borders on magical. It’s the magical cake that led her to meet her husband. Obviously, I am married and not looking for the love of my life through my blog. I read the story a few times because it was charming and I wanted to read the description of this cake before closing my eyes. Molly’s love story was so sweet and endearing.
Besides being intrigued by the beauty of a sweet love story, there was this gorgeous cake. It sounded so simple and so wonderful. Truth be told, I’m a sucker for sappy love stories and good French cake!

On Molly’s blog the ingredients are measured in a glass yogurt cup. I used the recipe from her book that is with a regular measuring cup. It’s an easy cake to make that could be fun to do with little ones. I think the cake would even be fine with just the lemon icing. I happened to love the first layer of lemon syrup. I used olive oil instead of the canola oil that she mentions using in the recipe. I enjoy baking with olive oil and yogurt. This cake has just the right amount of sweetness mixed with tanginess. Perfect for a pretty spring day!


Gâteau au Citron–French Style Lemon Yogurt Cake
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil

lemon syrup:
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

lemon icing:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.In a large bowl combine the yogurt, sugar and eggs and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Add flour mixture in with the yogurt mixture and blend.
Add flour mixture in with the yogurt mixture and blend.DSCN7192
Mix in the oil and stir until everything is mixed well.DSCN7193
Your batter should look nice and smooth like this.DSCN7194
Pour into your prepared ban and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake on a rack for 20 minutes and then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon juice until it tastes like the kind of syrup you make lemonade with. When cake is cool spoon over the lemon syrup.

Let cool completely. While cooling, prepare the lemon icing. Whisk well and spoon the icing over the cooled cake. The icing will be completely firm in about 1 hour.

Maybe this cake will be magical for you too? Perhaps you could use a little something sweet and French to brighten your day. Smile

Thank you for all of your sweet messages! I’m feeling better…little by little.

Soon I will be back to baking. After I’ve healed and recuperated and can stand on my feet longer. Until then, I’ll catch you up on what I baked before the surgery and what Teresa has made! And there may be a surprise guest post coming up too!Winking smile

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Boulder Locavore April 12, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Looks delicious; fresh and flavorful. Hoping you are on the mend. Sending all of you sweet thoughts!


Chris April 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I loved your ricotta cheese crostata with lemon, and this sounds yummy! hrm…I am tempted to try throwing some Nutella in there somewhere, just not sure where…perhaps split the cake and spread on a thin layer prior to putting on syrup/icing? ooooh… I may have to experiment :-)

(glad to hear you are recuperating!)


Lauren at Keep It Sweet April 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

This looks like a wonderful cake for spring! I hope you are feeling good and back in the kitchen soon:-)


Cake Duchess April 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Chris-Thank you Chris!Your comment was so sweet on my Ricotta Crostata. I think if you do try with Nutella you have to let us know how it turns out:)


Maria April 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I adore lemon desserts. Count me in for a slice of this beautiful cake:)


Pegasuslegend April 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Just perfection here~!


Celia April 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

This looks so lovely and delicious! I only recently wound up following your blog, but I love your sweets, and am so glad you’re up and baking! this looks gorgeous and – though it’s billed as French – the flavors seem so Italian to me (and so like home). Let the cake magic get to work…


Chef Dennis April 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm

what a delicious cake that must have been,I love using yogurt to bake with, so this perfect for me, and that glaze really makes it!
Glad to hear your feeling well enough to bake



A Thought For Food April 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I could always use something French… never seizes to brighten up my day. And the bright lemon flavor of this cake would surely do that!


mr. pineapple man April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

the yoghurt in it totally hits the spot!! mmmmmm~~


The Mom Chef April 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I wish I could bake you one and send it over there. From what I read, this was done before surgery? I hope you’re not standing around baking yet! Relax, heal, rejuvenate.

I will make this and think of you.


Nisrine M. April 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Beautiful and super moist. The icing looks fabulous as well.


Magic of Spice April 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

So glad your doing better, I am sure it is a process. Beautiful cake, reminds me of Spring :)


chefpandita.com April 12, 2011 at 11:24 pm

What a beautiful cake, Lora! Hope u can go back to baking soon. Meanwhile, enjoy some quiet time and see you on Twitter :) xoxo


Sandra April 12, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Light, refreshing and how sweet that it was attached to a love story.


mywanderingspoon April 13, 2011 at 12:06 am

Love your post….all that stuff when we don’t bake, I am feeling the same way. Love the sound of mixer and flour on my hands:) And off course wonderful aroma in the kitchen when treats are done:)
Dessert looks beautiful….


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit April 13, 2011 at 1:03 am

I love this cake! Simple, delicious and elegant. Glad you’re feeling better!


Happy When Not Hungry April 13, 2011 at 1:50 am

This cake is beautiful! Love the lemon too. Nice job :-)


Lizzy April 13, 2011 at 1:54 am

You’ll be baking in no time…but for now, we’re delighted to see this citrus beauty. That glaze is perfect! Take good care, Lora…so good to see you posting :)


Evan @swEEts April 13, 2011 at 2:18 am

Well hopefully this cake is magical for you as well as you recoop from your surgery! It looks absolutely fantastic Lora.. Can’t wait to see what you have for us once you get back on your feet :) I’ll be anxiously waiting!


baking.serendipity April 13, 2011 at 2:21 am

I’ve never baked a cake with yogurt before…thanks for teaching me about it too :) I get stir-crazy to bake when I’ve been out of the kitchen for a while too. Can’t wait to see what your first project is when you are back at it :)


Jan April 13, 2011 at 3:08 am

Best part of this recipe: lemon syrup AND lemon glaze! Reminds me of a recipe from a friend originally from Nancy in France. Thanks!


Sanjeeta kk April 13, 2011 at 5:19 am

Wow..how scrumptious the cake looks! And citrus flavors with citrus glaze..Yumm. Need a slice :)


Carolyn April 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

The cake certainly looks magical, with all that lovely glaze dripping down the sides!


Claire Gallam April 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I die, this looks TO DIE FOR. Yum. Love that glaze.


Torviewtoronto April 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm

this cake looks delicious with the yogurt in it
thank you for sharing the romantic story


Chris April 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

My cake just came out of the oven and smells lusciously lemony! I just came back here to check when to put the syrup on it. Thanks for your kind comment about MY comment on your crostata…I was so enamored of it, I posted a pic on facebook, and if I do say so myself, our crostatas could be twins :) http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1291205856990&set=a.1014026447678.2113.1735565500&type=1&theater (hopefully you can see it)


Kristen April 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

It truly is a lovely cake. Lemon is such a happy flavor. I continue to hope the best for you!


Kim - Liv Life April 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I’m slightly Lemon Obsessed at this moment and this one is right up my alley. A lovely cake!
Hope you are doing well, Lora! We’ve been sending positive thoughts and prayers your direction!


Chris April 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Lora – wow…just tasted this cake and it’s YUMMY!!! SO glad I put the syrup on it – I was afraid it would soak into the cake, but it did’nt. However, it does offset the tartness of the glaze.

Oh…and I almost forgot, but with the last bite, I put a bit of Nutella on it. Can you say HEAVEN boys and girls? :-) not sure whether it would be better as a drizzle or a thin layer – being the Cake Duchess, I think you are more qualified to try and find the answer to that question – but do put a bit of Nutella on it, and you’ll see what I mean.

For the other bakers out there – I used ww flour measure for measure, and the cake came out perfectly :) I can almost justify sneaking another slice later on – olive oil, whole wheat, lemons, yogurt LOL :) Thanks!


Cake Duchess April 14, 2011 at 1:21 am

Hi Chris-I am glad you did the syrup adn the glaze b/c I think they do go so well together;)
Oh my gosh! Nutella! I am out of Nutella and now I am craving it with this cake!!:)
I like that it turned out just as yummy w/whole wheat flour. That will be my next way to make it:)
(Am going to peak at your crostata too…)


Amy April 14, 2011 at 2:47 am

This cake does look quite magical! It sounds heavenly kept moist and delicious with yogurt, and bursting with citrus flavors :)!


Cookin' Canuck April 14, 2011 at 3:25 am

Molly’s book is such a wonderful combination of recipes, great storytelling and touch-your-heart moments. I remember this cake well and now am determined to try it.


Mari April 14, 2011 at 4:17 am

Hola Lora, I am glad I got to know your blog through Chef Dennis. You have a wonderful blog and this cake looks delicious!

I understand how you feel by not baking in a week, I too feel the same and even get kinda of depressed. I am glad all went well for you, and wish you feel and get better soon.

Hugs from Dominican Republic :)


Christine's Pantry April 14, 2011 at 4:18 am

The cake looks wonderful! Glad to hear your feeling well enough to bake.


Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. April 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

This looks amazing!!


Lauren | Have Fork Will Eat April 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

This sounds just perfect for spring, especially for the Easter dinner I just found out I’m hosting.


megan @ whatmegansmaking April 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I love anything with a glaze on top! This cake is perfect for spring :)


spcookiequeen April 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Well you have started my morning right. I hope you are back on your feet soon, but don’t forget how important rest is. I love olive oil in cake, I like to use a strong one too, so I can taste it. Have a great day.


Karen April 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

This cake looks so fantastic! Such fresh flavors and simple ingredients. Yum!
Hope you are able to start baking again soon…I’ve been seeing your updates on Twitter and am glad to see you’re feeling better day by day. (And some of your tweets about your in-laws crack me up! I’m still giggling about the radio station they subscribed to!)


Angie's Recipes April 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm

The gateau looks so fresh, soft and delicious!


kita April 15, 2011 at 12:51 am

I was not a fan of lemon cakes until recently – now I can’t get enough. This must go in the rotation especially with that glaze. I hope you get back in the kitchen and baking soon!


sara @ CaffeIna April 15, 2011 at 1:24 am

I can imagine how you miss baking, Lora. You always make amazing baked goods. I’m glad you got the share this cake with your in-laws and with us, though. Come, on…be patient…you will soon recover and be back baking amazing things….I know it.


Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels April 15, 2011 at 4:22 am

Give me the whole cake Lora!! :D I loooovee lemon cakes and especially love them with yogurt. This looks incredible. I can’t wait until you’re able to start baking again!


marla April 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Hi Lora, Molly has a way with words that are beautiful and very comforting. Anything simple that can take us away from difficult moments is a treasure. Think I will re-read this book & sounds like I should try this gorgeous cake :) xxoo


Susi's Kochen und Backen April 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Lora what a delicious looking and sounding cake. I bet it would pair well with fresh berries too.
Keep taking care of yourself and make sure not to rush anything. I know I’ve been going slightly stir-crazy myself and it is hard when the mind is anxious, but the body won’t cooperate. I keep thinking of you daily and continue to send you healing vibes xoxo


Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking April 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Lora, this pie looks amazing! Wonderful flavor combination… I could really go for a slice right now. I hope you are continuing to feel healthier and happier every day. :) Thanks for sharing this beautiful baked creation!


Elle April 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Yes, yes, yes–this is perfect! Light, not too heavy or sweet, and so pretty! Thinking of you, sweet girl.


Anna C April 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

We’re big fans of citrus desserts. Lemon cake is one of my husband’s favourites. Looks light and so moist.


Denise @ Creative Kitchen May 11, 2011 at 12:22 am

Oh YUM!! I love Molly’s blog, and I LOVE lemon cake! I have been enjoying reading her book to. Still haven’t finished it…just pick it up and read another few pages here or there. It’s delightful!

Your pics are stunning and I really wish I had a slice of this cake right now. Really feel like I must make it soon! This post just came across as I stumbled and I’m so glad it did. Glad you are feeling better these days.

Denise @ Creative Kitchen


Emmy Efir February 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

This cake is yummilicious. I must say though- if you decide to put it in 2 9″x5″ cake pans to serve it like pound cake, then you will have to bake it longer. I had an unfortunate cake collapse with 2 separate attempts. BUT- for the outer sections that baked all the way through, the taste and texture are out of this world! I will be trying again lol…It’s THAT worth it folks!


cakeduchess February 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Hi Emmy-Thanks for the baking tip! I never tried it in loaf pans and now can’t wait to bake it again!! It is a delicious cake…happy you liked it and thanks for stopping by!!


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