Looking through my more recent recipes, I see nothing but a dark color palette: spicy gingerbread and dark chocolate cakes filled deep browns and blacks. I guess it’s appropriate — since it’s winter in Portland (read: rain EVERYDAY), I haven’t been able to use natural lighting and therefore have been subconsciously attracted to darker, winter flavors like molasses, coffee, and chocolate to take advantage of the dark winter shadows. But sometimes, when you wake up to pouring rain EVERYDAY FOR THE LAST TWO WEEKS STRAIGHT, you need some sunshine in your life. You know, a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Something like this bright and lemony French yogurt loaf:
I’ve had this recipe dog-eared in a copy of Bon Appetit for a while now. The recipe is nothing but a simple lemon loaf, without even an accompanying glaze. But don’t let its simplicity fool you. The recipe uses a lot of Greek yogurt, giving lots of moisture and a slight tang that complements the lemon zest quite nicely. And while it’s not something incredibly decadent (like Momofuku Milk Bar’s Confetti Cake), it’s a pretty handy staple to have around that you can experiment with. For instance, you can dress it up and top it off with brown sugar, glaze, frosting, fruit — whatever you like. In my case, it’s jam:
Aren’t those little pots adorable? I found them at a local supermarket where they were selling packs of six as stocking stuffers. Too cute.
Now I’m normally a savory breakfasts type of person — although I love French toasts and donuts, I’d rather have lots of protein (eggs, bacon, sausage) and potatoes to start out my day. Sometimes though, just sometimes, I do get a hankering for a sweet breakfast pastry. And this loaf was perfect for that. Especially when warmed in the oven, with a bit of blueberry jam... bliss. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all, and this loaf is definitely worth getting up out of bed for. Even if it means facing the cold and rainy bike ride to work.
French Yogurt Loaf
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
- one 8 ½ by 4 ¼-inch loaf pan
For the French Yogurt Loaf:
(makes one loaf pan)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
- 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 (F), and butter your loaf pan liberally. Dust with flour and tap out any excess.
- Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using your fingers, rub together 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Whisk in 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract until well combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour/baking powder/salt mixture (from the second step) into the sugar/yogurt/oil mixture (from the third step), just until smooth and combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cake cool in pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool completely.