French yoghurt cake with strawberries and cream

When my children were in primary school, French yoghurt cake was the cake to make for birthday parties or special school events or bake sales. Simple to make, it’s often the first cake that children learn to make with mom or dad.

Last week, I made some changes to my old recipe and gave it a healthier and tastier profile. I took out the all purpose white flour and replaced it with a blend of white spelt and almond flours. I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup, substituted the dairy butter with 100% white almond butter and increased the flavour with lemon zest and fresh vanilla taken from one bean.

I also came up with two versions: one with eggs and dairy and a plant-based version. Both cakes turned out SO WELL that I cannot tell you which one is better. The vegan cake is definitely lighter, but other than that, both are tasty, moist and satisfying.

As for white spelt flour, it is the perfect substitute for all purpose wheat flour. I recommend to use an unbleached and organic type of white spelt flour.

With more and more people with wheat sensitivities, spelt flour seems to be better tolerated or easier to digest than wheat. However, note that spelt does contain gluten. If you have celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity or allergy, you should stick to a gluten-free all purpose flour.

French yoghurt cake with strawberries and cream

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups white spelt flour (farine d’épautre claire), sift after measuring
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (tbsp) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (tsp) salt
  • 1 cup almond flour, sift before measuring * (see notes)
  • 1 cup Greek or plain yoghurt, no sugar or flavours added and at room temperature (Vegan:1 cup natural soy yoghurt)
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs at room temperature (Vegan: 1/3 cup liquid from 1 jar/can of chickpeas to make whipped aquafaba)
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • Lemon zest, grated from one lemon (about 1 tbsp zest) ** (see notes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla – I use the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • ½ cup white almond butter, a smooth kind with no additives or sugar (stir well before using)
  • 2-3 tbsps dairy or plant milk – I use unsweetened almond milk
  • Topping: whipped cream (dairy or coconut) and fresh strawberries. 

Notes:

* With a sifter or a fine-meshed sieve, sift the almond flour before measuring it. This is important because commercial almond flour is not always finely sifted (unless you use a pre-sifted type such as Blue Diamond Almond Flour).

** To obtain real lemon zest, only grate the superficial yellow part of the peel and not the white part.

PROCEDURE

Oven: 180°C / 350°F (convention oven)

One 26 cm /10-inch round pan with removable bottom lined with parchment and sides greased and floured. 

Measure 1½ cups of white spelt flour and then sift this amount with the baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

Sift the almond flour prior to measuring it and discard any excess almond particles that do not pass through the sifter. Measure 1 cup and add it to the spelt flour. Store any leftover sifted almond flour in a container.

Hand whisk the dry ingredients to ensure an even distribution of the flours and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, add the yoghurt and stir in the baking soda. Set this aside. Note that the soda will cause the yoghurt to bubble and expand, so make sure to use a bowl that accommodates 2 cups. 

In a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and beat with electric beaters (handheld or stand up) on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add the almond butter and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the yoghurt and beat just enough to combine, about 10-15 seconds. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry flour ingredients and gently mix by hand with a spatula until combined. Add and mix in the 2-3 tbsps of milk – just enough to give the batter a smooth texture. Do not over mix. 

Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake in preheated oven on middle rack for 30-35 minutes, until the top and sides are golden, the surface looks and feels set and a toothpick test comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes before unmolding the sides of the pan.  Let the cake cool completely on a wired rack as it will continue to set. Serve as is or with whipped cream and fresh strawberries or ice cream and other fresh fruit. 

For vegan:

Measure 1½ cups of white spelt flour and then sift this amount with the baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

Sift the almond flour prior to measuring it and discard any excess almond particles that do not pass through the sifter. Measure 1 cup and add it to the spelt flour. Store any leftover sifted almond flour in a container.

Hand whisk the dry ingredients to ensure an even distribution of the flours and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, add the soy yoghurt and stir in the baking soda. Set this aside. Note that the soda will cause the yoghurt to slightly expand, so make sure to use a bowl that accommodates 2 cups. 

In another small separate bowl, add the aquafaba liquid and beat with electric beaters (handheld or stand up) on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes, or until foamy (NOT stiff like meringue). Set this aside. 

In a large bowl, add the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, almond butter and beat with electric beaters on medium-high speed for about 1 minute. Add the soy yoghurt and beat until combined, about 10-15 seconds. Then add the whipped aquafaba and beat for another 10-15 seconds, until combined. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry flour ingredients and gently mix by hand with a spatula until combined. Add and mix in the 2-3 tbsps of milk – just enough to give the batter a smooth texture. Do not over mix. 

Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake in preheated oven on middle rack for 30-35 minutes, until the top and sides are golden, the surface looks and feels set and a toothpick test comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes before unmolding the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely on a wired rack as it will continue to set. Serve as is or with whipped cream and fresh strawberries or ice cream and other fresh fruit. 

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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