We’ve all had moments when a cake craving strikes and you’re not prepared. Let this tender yogurt cake be the answer. It uses pantry ingredients to create a no-frills, fluffy, moist, and barely sweet cake.
This truly is an anytime-of-day cake, whether you eat it for dessert, breakfast, or with your afternoon cup of tea or coffee. Serve it as-is, dust it with powdered sugar, pile it with whipped cream and fresh berries or even a dollop of yogurt.
This is a humble, homey, delicately sweet treat that will become a household favorite.
The Origins of Yogurt Cake
Yogurt cake, or gâteau au yaourt, is a classic French baked good. It’s so simple, it’s often the first thing French children are taught to bake and, traditionally, the ingredients were measured out in small, individual yogurt cups. It’s a little bit like the French version of pound cake. It’s flavored simply like pound cake too, with just a splash of vanilla.
The Taste and Texture of Yogurt Cake
Yogurt cake celebrates its plainness and that’s what I love about it! It’s tender and fluffy, barely sweet, and has a wonderful hint of tang from the yogurt.
The yogurt and oil provide lots of moisture, so it can sit on your counter for a few days without any fear of it drying out. In fact, I actually prefer it on day two, once the texture softens even more.
The Best Yogurt to Use in Baking
This is a flexible, pantry staple cake, and the ingredients prove it. Both Greek or plain yogurt can be used, so you don’t have to run out to the store as long as you have one of the two in your fridge.
While you can technically bake this cake with nonfat or low-fat yogurt, its texture and flavor are really the best when made with whole milk, full fat yogurt, as the fat in the yogurt is what lends the cake its signature tenderness and richness. It’s also what is traditionally used in the original French version.
If you're feeling ambitious or you already are in the practice you can make your own Homemade Greek Yogurt. It's easier than you might think.
Swaps and Substitutions
Beyond the yogurt’s flexibility, there is lots of wiggle room in the remaining ingredients, too.
- A neutral oil like vegetable oil or canola oil won’t lend any flavor to the cake, while olive oil will provide a hint of savory flavor that’s buttery and a touch peppery. Choose whichever oil you like—or really, whatever you happen to currently have in your pantry.
- You can swap up to half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour in this recipe. The results will be a nuttier and denser cake that would be nice for breakfast, especially toasted.
- Swap up to 1/2 cup of almond flour for the all-purpose flour, which will make the cake even more tender and lend some added richness.
- Bake in a 9-inch round cake pan instead of a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Check for doneness at the 40 minute mark.
- Double the recipe and bake it in a Bundt cake pan. It will still take about 45 minutes of baking time when using a Bundt pan.
Ways to Flavor Yogurt Cake
Since it’s such a basic cake, you can absolutely have fun with flavors and add-ins.
My favorite simple twist is to add fresh lemon zest to the batter for added brightness. I also love stirring in a bit of tea leaves to make this Earl Grey Yogurt Cake, which really dresses the cake up.
Almond extract makes for a lovely vanilla extract substitute, if you have it and enjoy its marzipan-like flavor. Or try stirring a handful of chopped chocolate into the batter. While not traditional, there’s no denying it’s a family-pleasing addition.
This cake keeps exceptionally well. Store it well wrapped on the counter for up to 5 days. Alternatively, it can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost it on the counter overnight before serving at room temperature.
More Moist and Delectable Cake Recipes
- Vanilla Pound Cake
- Apple Sauce Spiced Cake
- Almond Pound Cake with Orange Glaze
- Banana Sheet Cake
- Pear Cake with Cinnamon Sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (226 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt, regular or Greek
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, canola oil, or olive oil, plus more for coating the pan
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (192 grams) all-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven, arrange rack, and grease baking dish:
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch or 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan lightly with olive oil and line it with parchment paper, leaving about a 1 inch overhang on the long sides, to make a sling.
Combine the wet ingredients:
Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the sugar, and whisk vigorously until pale yellow and frothy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the yogurt, oil, and vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients:
To the bowl with the wet ingredients, whisk in the baking powder and kosher salt. Add the flour and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined and all of the flour is incorporated. (A few small lumps in the batter are fine, be sure to not overmix.)
Transfer to prepared pan and bake:
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs, about 45 minutes.
Cool the cake:
Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes before using the parchment paper sling to lift the cake out of the pan and onto the cooling rack to cool completely.
Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before slicing and serving.