Tuesday, March 17, 2009

{TWD} French Riviera Cake, two ways

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie assignment is the French Yogurt Cake. I have had my eyes on this recipe for a while, so I was excited to get the chance to bake it. The basic cake is an oil- and yogurt-based cake that can be made in just two bowls. After the Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake of a few weeks ago, this was a welcome respite from a sink filled with dishes!

When I read through the recipe, I was immediately drawn to one of the variations. The Riviera Yogurt Cake uses strained (Greek) yogurt, olive oil, and chopped rosemary. I love using savory herbs in my sweets (see last week's Bay Custard Cups), so this sounded perfect to me!

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I love the subtle contribution that thyme and rosemary make to my very favorite coffee cake recipe, so I used both herbs in this cake. I chopped some fresh thyme and rosemary leaves very very fine, and rubbed 1/2 tsp of the combination into the sugar with the lemon zest.

- I used ground almonds. Sometimes I have Trader Joe's almond meal on hand, which is very finely ground, but this time I ground some almonds in my food processor, which produced a coarser grind.

- For yogurt, I stirred some lowfat and nonfat Greek yogurts together (mostly nonfat).

- I used regular extra virgin olive oil, but I later remembered that I had some wonderful Italian lemon olive that I should have used! For Christmas last year, my daughters adopted an olive tree for my husband and me. We received shipments of oil from "our" tree; the last shipment contained three different flavored oils - including lemon. I always forget to use them!

- In lieu of the 3 eggs in the recipe, I substituted 3/4 cup Egg Beaters. With the mono-unsaturated olive oil, the mostly-nonfat yogurt, and the egg subsitute, this cake was actually pretty low in fat, and the Greek yogurt and almonds increased the protein content. Practically a health food! Next time I might throw in some white whole wheat flour.

- In keeping with the Riviera theme, I left the cake topless.

- Truth be told, I completely ran out of steam when it came time to contemplate a topping glaze. I knew I didn't have lemon marmalade. I also knew that I was not going to purchase lemon marmalade, given my vast jam holdings (which by the way, grew by several jars over the holidays). The final thing I knew is that I wasn't going to get creative and devise an alternate topping. This cake was going to have to stand on its own without the help of a glaze.

- I sliced up half and served it to my book group plain, and popped the leftover half loaf in the freezer. [more about that second half, below]

the verdict:

The cake is sturdy, dense, and moist. And very good! And very easy!!

In the Riveriera variation, the almonds and olive oil each lent their subtle flavor, the herbs gave just the slightest woody hint, and the sunny lemon shone through everything.

I will make this cake again (and again) in this Riviera version - the recipe is so easy, moist, healthy, and good.

I'd also like to make the regular version of this recipe as a layer cake with a simple frosting, perhaps cocoa buttercream.

I love this cake!

...read on....

Riviera cake 2.0:

I initially baked this cake the very day that the recipe was selected (as part of my marathon Pre-Lenten baking frenzy) and served it that evening. I can now report that this cake freezes and thaws beautifully. Last Thursday I served the second half of the cake (also to my book group) but this time I decided to give it a proper covering. I made a glaze of 1/4 c. grapefruit marmalade (which I had in my fridge), which I thinned with about a teaspoon of Meyer lemon juice, then heated in a small saucepan with 1/2 tsp of chopped thyme. I strained it directly onto the cake top.

The citrus glaze was a fantastic complement to the basic cake. I think everyone liked the glazed cake, although they had really enjoyed the cake plain at the previous meeting.

Another time I'd like to experiment with a fig and thyme glaze.

I need to thank Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction for choosing the French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze. If you'd like to try this recipe, it's on pages 224-225 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, or check out Liliana's post where you will find it online.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day!! I had fond hopes of baking up a wonderful Irish Soda Bread, and even had a recipe all printed out, but it just didn't happen. I did, however, use Irish cheddar cheese this past weekend in my macaroni and cheese and in my scrambled eggs (they were not green, Sam-I-Am)!

Note to my fellow food bloggers - In addition to giving up sweets for Lent I've also given up Google Reader and general surfing of other cooking blogs. So that's the reason that you've seen fewer of my comments lately. I've been following the maxim"speak when spoken to;" if you comment on my blog, I'll likely visit you and return the favor.

50 comments:

Steph said...

Nancy, I think it's great you tried the other variation. Your cake looks so perfectly risen and so nice with the grapefruit glaze on top.

Cristine said...

Your cake looks fantastic and good for you for trying one of the variations!

Marthe said...

Now I have to try the Riveriera variation, it looks and sounds wonderful!!

Audrey said...

I loved this cake, too...and I appreciate your healthy variations that will allow me to guiltlessly make it on a regular basis. I'm intrigued by almond meal and will look for some on my next trip to TJs. I would say more about your as usual wonderful post but I'm too busy giggling over "topless."

Amanda said...

Wow it turned out beautifully! I bet it was delish :) I LOVED this cake, it smelled so good while cooking and tasted wonderful :) I paired it with simple lemon curd. YUM!

Di said...

Your cake looks great! I love the different variations of this one. I've never had grapefruit marmalade--sounds yummy. =)

Jessica said...

You left it topless . . . tee hee hee. I love the "riviera theme."

It looks wonderful and I love knowing that it can be made healthier, too. The thyme infused grapefruit marmalade sounds fantastic too. I'm making a mental note to try that some time.

Teanna said...

Fig and thyme glaze!!! Wow!!! I'm just starting to feel more adventurous and want to start baking with savory things to go out of the box a little! I love that you always do it with no fear!

And I love the "topless" Riviera cake!!! Hahah!

Peggy said...

I hope you are having a wonderful St. Patty's Day! Of course I forgot to wear green. I'm always so impressed with your variations and I love figs. Wasn't this cake just refreshing? Not too sweet and so easy to eat! I'm anxious to try it again and use some of your creative variations!

SiHaN said...

and again i say this.. DARNIT.. i should have given the riveria version a go! savoury herbs in.. sounds superb! good job there.

myfamousrecipe said...

I didn't make the Riviera version because I couldn't find a category for it in my mind: dessert? breakfast? mid-day snack? Your comments helped me recognize the error of my ways. The Riviera cake now resides in the following category: Best eaten when hungry.

The olive tree is such a fantastic gift!

Lady Baker said...

I was so curious about the Riviera version! I am in love with the original version as a sweet cake--so think that next go 'round I'll do one sweet, the other savory. Thanks for posting your input/feedback on the alternate variation!

Happy St. Pats! (I too have been enjoying Irish cheddar this week...and made my first Irish Soda Bread--but have not posted about it just yet, will try later this week!)

Cathy said...

"In keeping with the Riviera theme, I left the cake topless" -- ROFL!!!! I'm just glad that the cake did not require you to make a "speedo or swim trunks?" call, because we all know how that goes on the Riviera. As usual, your variations are inspired -- love the combo of thyme and rosemary (and the grapefruit marmalade on the batch that came out of the freezer). Your cake looks fabulous! I will also make this one again and again -- we loved it, and I definitely felt like it was a little healthier than most things we make!

Maria said...

I am loving both versions! Nice job!!

dharmagirl said...

I love your topless quip:)

Your variation inspired my cake--I read your comments on the P&Q and immediately decided to follow suit with the lemon and thyme Riveria variation. I absolutely adore this cake:)

Adopt an Olive tree and receive oil--what an amazing gift!

Happy St. Patty's Day:)

MacDuff said...

I read your comment on the TWD page and went with the Rivera recipe as well. GOOD CALL. Thank you - it's going to be a staple around here now. And the grapefruit glaze will be bookmaked, too!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

rainbowbrown said...

This variation almost had me, but I didn't go for it. Next time, next time. It looks fantastic.

Katrina said...

Delicious! This is such a simple, changeable cake! Yum to yours.

Mary Ann said...

I am thinking we must be twins on this recipe. I did the Riviera too and used some eggbeaters. I loved how the rosemary complimented the lemon. Lovely!

Kayte said...

The inside texture of your cakes are just glorious...very very lovely. I would never have thought of your flavor combinations, but I think I will try them as I love Greek flavorings in anything...and this sounds like those little cakes they make...thanks for trying it all out. Lovely photos. I so envy that jam collection...I have a connect this week to the Trappist Preserves as they have some interesting ones...check it out...and they deliver right to your door!

farah said...

It looks great! I'm not brave enough to try herbs in my desserts, i will get there though. I can build confidence through you ;)
I love that your daughters adopted an olive tree for you, and to receive oil from your own tree..... fantastic!

Jennifer said...

Your baked goods always look so perfect and your writing always inspires me. Thank you for that! Hope you are doing well!

Carla said...

I love how you do the savory versions. I'm always a little hesitant because it's a cake, not a savory treat. Glad to hear it worked out for you :)

I don't celebrate Lent (except for going to the fish fries for the food), so kudos to you for giving up sweets and general surfing! I could never do that. Just don't splurge once it's over ;)

kim said...

it looks wonderful! i sooo should have used olive oil. i did use greek yogurt, but just didn't see that note about the olive oil... next time! :)

spike. said...

I made two cakes and popped some in the freezer, so it is good to hear that these freeze well. I really enjoyed the riviera version- glad you did too!

chocolatechic said...

Oh...your cake looks wonderful.


Way to go on giving up sweets.

Sweet as Coco said...

WOW! First off, great explanation of your cake...it makes me want to re-try this in the riviera version! Great idea with using lemon oil! I found a few great olive groves in Napa while visiting that has great olive oil: Round Pond and also Katz and Co. How cool you have an "adopt a tree". I love that. I thought about giving up the net for lent...but just couldn't ;P. Great job!

Jules Someone said...

What wonderful variations! I am definitely going to have to try the savory version one of these days. Lovely!

mike said...

Ditto - I'll have to try the variation now. Love it - it looks so perfect with the glaze. I also used ground nuts - only I put them through a strainer (little tedious) after they're ground - to get the "fine ground meal". I save, and use the coarser stuff for something else. Nicely Done!!! You've obviously been busy!

natalia said...

Dear Nancy I'm glad you liked the cake so much ! I still haven't tried mine because it just came out of the oven but I know this is a good recipe !! Hoping the kids woul eat it I din't add the herbs but really wanted to !!

Leslie said...

Nancy, I always learn so much from your posts, and now you've turned me on to adopting an olive tree! I never knew that existed and now I'm headed to their website.

I love both versions of your cake, and really, isn't this cake a great vehicle for us to draw down our jam reserves!

leanne said...

How wonderful are your daughters that adopted a olive oil tree for you. Lemon oil sounds wonderful. The grapfruit glaze also sounds good.

Fit Chick said...

I am so glad you liked the Riveria variation, I want to try that one also. I used the greek yogurt from TJ's !

Reeni♥ said...

Your cakes look beautiful and that glaze sounds real delicious. I love that you can adopt an olive tree. I'm definitely going to look into that. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

pinkstripes said...

I absolutely love this comment:
"In keeping with the Riviera theme, I left the cake topless."

I debated about making the Riviera version. I'm glad to know it worked. I'm glad to know it freezes well because I have a bunch of yogurt cake scraps in my freezer.

Claudia said...

I made the basic yogurt cake - to great acclaim. I love your variations! Also intended Irish Soda bread (did have an irish dinner) but the bread didn't happen so I settled for store-bought pumpernickel (how Irish is that) with Irish Kerry butter. I hope that counts.

Claudia said...

I made the basic yogurt cake - to great acclaim. I love your variations! Also intended Irish Soda bread (did have an irish dinner) but the bread didn't happen so I settled for store-bought pumpernickel (how Irish is that) with Irish Kerry butter. I hope that counts.

Jill said...

Hi Nancy, I just love the first photo in your post! I'm laughing about your topless Riviera cake :)

Sara said...

This looks delicious, I love that you added herbs! I want to try and incorporate herbs into desserts more often.

Linda said...

After reading your post, I must try the olive oil variation. Your cake looks fantastic!

Liliana said...

Your cake looks delicious! Fig and thyme glaze sounds good! I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Glad you saved half to glaze. The glaze took it to the next level for me. I love your first photo.

TeaLady said...

Fantastic!!! Nuff said.

Natashya said...

I was totally distracted by the adopted olive tree. How wonderful is that!!!
I want one.
Great looking loaves, I love how long and thin that first one is.

Flourchild said...

Great job..I thought this recipe was wonderful. It tasted so moist and fresh with the lemon flavor. I will be making this one again!

margot said...

Your cake looks great. You have some excellent ideas for future flavor combinations for this recipe.

Karen said...

Love that you tried this cake different ways. It was really good wasn't it? :)

Annette said...

Your variations sound delicious! I really liked this cake too. I want to try it with lemon curd and a raspberry sauce in the future.

Elyse said...

Wow! What fabulous variations. Love the Riveria them, and love that grapefruit glaze! Everything looks delicious!

Engineer Baker said...

Fig and thyme glaze? I'm totally there - that sounds fantastic! What shape is your pan? It looks longer than a standard loaf pan, and I love it. Not that I need more pans or anything...