I have exactly zero French lineage, nor do I have any command of the language, but I’ve always had an intense obsession with French culture. Perhaps it was because as a child of the ’80s Beauty and the Beast had quite the hold on me, or maybe it was because my Mom majored in French in college, which as a kid, felt incredibly fancy to me.
When I first got into the food world, traveling to Paris felt like a no-brainer… except just starting out in the food world is code for dead broke. Last spring my husband and I discussed taking a kid-free trip to Paris in September to eat our weight in funky cheese. Turns out I was pregnant again, so there would be no delicious cheese in my foreseeable future.
Tiktok became my way of escaping into French culture. I found myself falling in love with content creators like Isabelle Bertolami who shares her daily routine as an American mom in France. I assume they have their fair share of stomach bugs, temper tantrums, and messy houses like the rest of us moms, but boy did this life seem glamorous. Warm baguette with French butter and dark chocolate as an afterschool snack? Yes, please.
What Is Gateau au Yaourt?
I recently encountered a French treat that caught my eye: gateau au yaourt, popularized on TikTok by Claire Dinhut of @condimentclaire. It’s easy enough to make any time and it works for breakfast, as a snack, or as dessert.
It’s also incredibly easy. In fact, it’s usually the first baking recipe French children learn how to make when they are young. It’s designed in such a way that you don’t need measuring cups or a scale, and the ingredient list is simple enough to commit to memory.
While this all seemed incredibly idyllic—just picture a preschooler making you a cake!—I was a bit skeptical. I love baking with a scale. But as soon as I tried the recipe all of that went away. I made it by myself the first time around, but then let my six-year-old execute the cake from start to finish on his own. He did an excellent job and was so proud of himself!
A No-Measure Cake That Kids Can Make
Think of this cake as more of a ratio than a recipe. You start with one individually-sized pot of French yogurt, then use the empty vessel to measure the remaining ingredients. The size of your yogurt doesn’t really matter, you just need to make sure you stick to the ratio. You sort of dump everything into one bowl and give it a whisk, no need for a stand mixer.
I promise this is one recipe anyone can make with great results. I’ve seen a few variations of this cake floating around the interwebs, but I used the below proportions for my tests which yielded delicious, moist cakes.
How To Make Gateau au Yaourt
To make a 9-inch cake (about 10 to 12 servings), you’ll need:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 (roughly 5-ounce) pot French-style yogurt (I use vanilla bean La Fermière.)
- 1 pot** neutral oil (I use a light olive oil.)
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 pots** granulated sugar
- 3 pots** all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- Whipped cream and fresh fruit, for garnish
** Pots means using the yogurt container filled to the top to measure the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper, then grease the sides with nonstick baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Thoroughly clean and dry the yogurt pot so you can measure your dry ingredients without them sticking to the container. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold with a rubber spatula until no streaks of flour remain.
Scrape into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then remove the ring. Let cool completely before slicing and serving. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit of choice.
Customize This Cake
This cake is endlessly adaptable. You can switch up the flavor of your yogurt, or use enhancements like fresh citrus zest or extracts for a different flavor. I also want to explore swirling fresh jam or Nutella into the top of the unbaked cake for a beautiful and tasty presentation.
Any fresh berries would be lovely folded into the batter before baking, and you can bump up the flavor of the cake by adding a pinch of spice like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or even sumac.