Lemon Riviera Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze – A Fresh Start to the New Year

After the excesses of Christmas and the New Year (ok, mostly Christmas food), I needed a guilt-free way to assuage my baking need. So I pulled out one of my favorites – Dorie Greenspan’s French Lemon Yoghurt Cake.

By the way, Dorie Greenspan is one of my favourite cookbook authors… I do have many favourites and do use recipes by many other famous cooks / chefs, but Dorie holds a special place in my heart. I always find her recipes incredibly well-written, and I love her style, which is homely, French-inspired with a slight American twang. I can honestly say that this is the only book that I have wanted (and tried) to bake through, from cover to cover. I can totally understand why there are blogs dedicated to baking through every recipe in Dorie’s books!

She also leaves lots of room for playing around in her recipes, which are wonderful… did I mention I love her recipe-writing? Ok yes, I do suffer from a (more than) small amount of culinary idolism when it comes to Dorie Greenspan. So I guess this post is a sort-of-rave about Dorie! Plus she just looks like a nice person… like a pixie : )

Ok, enough idolizing and on to the loaf cake. This lemon yoghurt cake is one of the easier recipes in Dorie’s book – you literally just combine the wet and dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. No mixer required at all. It’s healthy too – there’s no butter since I use olive oil as Dorie suggests, so it’s practically guilt-free! What more can one ask for? ; )

I love baking this cake during the weekend for the week ahead. It’s the perfect cake to take to work or school for tea time hunger pangs.

As Dorie’s recipe is pretty perfect, I can bake it straight from the book without any modifications. However I do like to use olive oil as mentioned because I like to believe it’s healthier, and I sometimes change up the flavor combinations with lemon and rosemary, lemon and lavender, or orange and rosemary depending on my mood.

The lemon glaze takes it up a notch, and I’ve topped the cake with preserved lemon slices. But you can just bake the loaf straight up as and it will still be scrumptious.

All in all, it’s a wonderful loaf cake!

20130120-081005.jpgWho says the best things in life can’t be guilt-free?

20130120-081032.jpgLemon preserves – tangy and tantalizing

The recipe is provided below. Enjoy!

Lemon Riviera Loaf Cake
Recipe courtesy of “Dorie Greenspan: Baking from my Home to Yours”

128g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g / 1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained, for glazing the top (optional)
1 teaspoon water, for glazing the top (optional)

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you’re using them, baking powder and salt and keep near by as well.
3. Put the sugar, zest and minced rosemary in a medium bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the zest and rosemary into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic.
4. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, stir in the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.
5. Srape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
6. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it will be golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.
7. Transfer the pan to a rack, cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.
8. To make the glaze:

  • Put the marmalade in a small pot or a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of water and heat (on the range or in the microwave oven) until the jelly is hot and liquefied.
  • Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.
  • Christmas Sweets Back in the Family Hearth

    What triggers the nostalgic feeling of “home” for you? It’s probably something very specific. For me, it’s the smell of rain hitting warm earth, or the slightly dusty, musky smell that permeates the air at sunset in the tropics. It’s the distant sound of prayers from the neighborhood mosque. Or it’s the familiar view of the nearby lake that greets me whenever I sit at the family dining table while I have breakfast.

    Making the trip back to Malaysia for Christmas is usually quite an endeavor as it involves waking up at ungodly hours to beat the Singapore / Malaysia immigration traffic, but it’s worth it when we see Mum’s happiness at having us at back home, even if it’s just for a while.

    Chocolate orange truffles served on Mum’s beautiful traditional crystal tea platter

    For us, family Christmas is all about the food. And I do mean lots of food… It’s usually a couple of days of cooking, not including the grocery-shopping and preparation time. Mum makes her signature turkey, which she does extremely well without fail every year (maybe there are some failures in her eyes, but she’s reached a level where her failures are still incredibly yummy). There was one year where Mum tried to get out of roasting a turkey but she was bullied into submission by her children and nieces & nephews. ; )

      Truffles galore!

      Truffles, XMas M&Ms and wrapped French Nougat with Glazed Cherries & Pistachios

    She also makes (by tradition and popular demand) her rockin’ chicken and beef satay (i.e. Malay-style barbecued meat on skewers), as well as a to-die-for peanut satay sauce. Yes, I know that everyone says that their mom’s cooking is the best, but my mum’s peanut satay sauce is really the best I have ever tasted. It’s spicy, sweet, crunchy from the peanuts and just has this finger-licking good quality that makes you want to eat it with everything. Suddenly everything tastes so much better with satay sauce!

    I haven’t put any of Mum’s recipes here (because I don’t think she would agree to spill her secrets), so the recipes I’m providing will be for the sweets and desserts that we made. Maybe one day I’ll be able to persuade her to let me write down the recipe…

    So, after a very long preamble… on to dessert! I kept mine relatively simple as I was also making a couple of salads for dinner… Thai-style beef salad and French coleslaw, but this is a baking blog so lets focus!

    I made dark chocolate orange truffles for an aperitif or something to munch on. Kit took care of the main dessert dish by making pumpkin pie with crumble topping and whipped maple cream. It was a toss-up between apple crumble (and old favourite) and pumpkin pie, which we had been craving ever since we watched Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Pie Throwdown on the Food Network. Oh all these festive cooking shows…!! ;D

    Pumpkin Pie with Crumble Topping in all its Maple-Whipped glory!

    Serving the Snowman Santa… Even if there’s no snow in Malaysia!

      Pumpkin pie before it gets demolished! Against the night scenery of our childhood…

    Chocolate Orange Truffles
    Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
    Yield: 20 truffles

    1 cup hazelnuts
    100g / 3 1/2 oz good bittersweet chocolate
    100g / 3 1/2 oz good semisweet chocolate
    120g / 1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 1/2 tablespoons orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau

    1 tablespoon prepared coffee
    1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 F / C.
    2. Chop the hazelnuts and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. (If the hazelnuts have skin on them, roast them for 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool.
    3. Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.
    4. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes just until it melts.)
    5. Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, coffee, and vanilla.
    6. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.
    7. With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    8. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres.
    8. Roll the chocolate in the chopped hazelnuts and chill again. Truffles are best when they’re allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator.

    Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Maple Cream and Crumble Topping
    Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown Pumpkin Pie


    Pie Crust
    1 1/2 cups finely ground digestive biscuit crumbs
    6 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly warm
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Pumpkin Filling
    2 whole eggs
    2 egg yolks
    1/4 dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned)
    1 1/2 cups thickened or double cream
    1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon fine salt
    1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved

    Crumble Topping
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

      Maple Whipped Cream

    1 1/4 cups very cold heavy cream
    1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved
    2 tablespoons maple syrup


    For the crust
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
    2. Add all the ingredients for the crust to a food processor and pulse until combined; it should feel like wet sand, and just come together.
    3. Spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan, using your finger tips or the flat bottom of a glass. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and sides of the pan.
    4. Put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

    For the filling:
    1. Preheat the oven to 135 degrees C / 275 degrees F.
    2. Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugars in a large bowl. Add the butter, canned pumpkin, cream, spices, salt and vanilla seeds and whisk to combine. Strain the mixture into another bowl.
    3. Pour the strained mixture into the baked pie crust and bake until almost set, about 1.5 hours.
    4. Remove and let come to room temperature. You can refrigerate until chilled, if preferred.

    Cook’s Note: The filling makes more than what is needed to fill the pie shell. You are able to freeze the excess. We made a double batch and it filled 3 pie shells very comfortably.

    For the Crumble Topping:
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
    2. Pulse all the ingredients (except the butter) in a food processor to evenly combine them.
    3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture just comes together in large granola-like clumps.
    4. Evenly spread out the mixture onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
    5. Allow to cool completely before topping the pie with the crumble.

    For the Maple Whipped Cream:
    1. Combine the cream, vanilla seeds, syrup and bourbon in a large chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
    2. Using a star tip, pipe borders around the pie (on top of the crumble) and towards the centre.