This deceptively easy recipe for orange yogurt cake produces a light and fluffy treat you can enjoy as-is or garnish more creatively for special occasions.
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Spectacular cakes don’t always need to involve complicated techniques and a full day’s work. Case in point: this orange yogurt cake. Yogurt cake is an extremely easy French cake that anyone can make. This cake’s name comes from the fact that traditionally, you didn’t need measuring cups to make it. You simply used the cup in which the yogurt was sold to measure the other ingredients, which you mixed together in a single bowl.
Yogurt cake is so easy to make that it’s often the first cake French kids learn to make. The recipe uses staple ingredients—flour, sugar, yogurt, oil, and eggs—and the batter comes together in minutes. The result is a surprisingly light and fluffy cake that’s not too sweet, stays moist for days, and goes with any topping you can think of, from frostings to whipped cream.
My favorite way to inject flavor in an easy yogurt cake is—unsurprisingly!—citrus fruits. This orange yogurt cake is infused with a generous amount of orange zest and some freshly squeezed orange juice to produce a delightfully aromatic dessert. Any fruit in the orange family works here: I love to use clementines and mandarins for a sweeter aroma.
Naked, this orange yogurt cake can be enjoyed from morning to night, 7 days a week, 12 months a year. It’s a delightful snack cake, and a wonderful treat to enjoy with a cup of tea. But what’s great about orange yogurt cake is that you can dress it up for special occasions, too. This is a cake you can drizzle with orange glaze to add just a touch of sweetness, slice and slather with jam and frosting to create a festive layered cake, or top with a cloud of whipped cream to produce a spectacular look with very little effort.
Chantilly—sweetened whipped cream—is my go-to topping for orange yogurt cake. I like to underline the citrus flavor in my orange yogurt cake by folding citrus zest into the whipped cream. It’s a simple addition that goes a long way in terms of flavor. To finish things off, I top the citrus whipped cream with orange segments as well as pomegranate seeds and baby basil leaves for a pop of color. You can’t get more festive than that!
Helpful Tips for Making Orange Yogurt Cake
Try different citrus fruits: You can use any orange variety in this recipe—clementines and mandarins are especially aromatic picks. You could also substitute lemon or grapefruit zest and juice to create desserts with completely different flavor profiles.
Change shape: This orange yogurt cake would usually be made in a 9-in (23-cm) springform pan, but for a change, I like to use an angel food cake pan to create a festive ring cake. You could even use a square baking pan or make individual cakes by using a muffin pan. Whatever pan you use, always make sure to generously butter and lightly flour it so you’ll be able to unmold the cake easily. (Refer to the instructions in the recipe below.) Also make sure to adjust the baking time according to the pan size you choose.
Make it ahead: When carefully wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container, this orange yogurt cake will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week, or frozen for up to a month. Garnish with whipped cream and toppings only on the day you plan on serving the cake. Always make sure to bring the cake back to room temperature at least one hour before serving, for the best texture and flavor.
Make it beautiful: You could simply spoon the citrus whipped cream over the cake and swirl it with the back of a spoon, but for an elegant look, I like to transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a St. Honoré tip. This triangle-cut piping tip is easy to work with and creates a truly unique look. Check out this hypnotizing video to see how easily you could turn your orange yogurt cake into a work of art!
1tsp5 ml finely grated orange zest (about 1/2 orange)
Orange segmentssee note
Baby basil or mint leaves
For the orange yogurt cake: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 9-in (23-cm) springform pan. Dust with flour, then invert the pan and tap it to remove excess flour. Set aside. (See note for baking pan alternatives.)
In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together; whisk to combine. In a second mixing bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest; rub the two together using the back of a spoon or the tip of your fingers to thoroughly infuse the orange flavor into the sugar. Add the yogurt, oil, orange juice, and vanilla; whisk to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Add the flour mixture and stir just to incorporate.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the cake is golden, set, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
For the citrus whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, combine the cream, sugar, and zests. Beat until medium peaks form. (Chantilly cream is usually beaten until soft peaks form, but for the whipped cream to hold well for piping, it’s best to get a bit past that point. The cream should hold well when you create a peak, but ever-so-slightly droop at the top. Make sure not to overbeat the whipped cream.) Cover and refrigerate until service.
To serve the orange yogurt cake: Run a sharp knife along the outside of the cake, then unmold. Set the cake on a serving platter or a cake stand. If desired, transfer the citrus whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large St. Honoré tip. Pipe the citrus whipped cream in curly patterns over the top of the cake. Alternatively, spoon the citrus whipped cream over the cake. Decorate with orange segments, pomegranate seeds, and basil leaves.
STORAGE: You can refrigerate the naked orange yogurt cake in a cake keeper or an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight, then bring back to room temperature at least 1 hour before garnishing with the citrus whipped cream and toppings.
To use different baking pans: This orange yogurt cake would usually be made in a 9-in (23-cm) springform pan, but you can also use an angel food cake pan to create a festive ring cake, a muffin pan, to make individual cakes, or a square baking pan for a more casual shape. Whatever pan you use, always make sure to generously butter and lightly flour it so you’ll be able to unmold the cake easily. (Refer to the instructions in the recipe above.) Also make sure to adjust the baking time according to the pan size you choose.
How to make orange segments: First, peel the fruit with a knife: cut off both the top and bottom of the fruit. Stand the fruit on either of the flat ends. Run a very sharp paring knife along the fruit from top to bottom, removing the skin and pith, leaving the flesh bare. Rotate the fruit and repeat. To collect segments, take the peeled fruit in one hand, and run a sharp knife alongside the membranes, leaving entirely bare pieces of fruit behind. You should make sure to do this over a bowl and squeeze the remaining membrane to catch all dripping juices. You can use the juice in this recipe, or save it for your next smoothie or cocktail.
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