Dancing Tomatoes

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This little cake holds a dear place in the heart of every French cook, for it is the one recipe that is taught to children at school when they begin their educational career, and it. May well represent one of their most fun school activities in what is, from very early days, a rigorous academic schedule.  It also speaks to the French addiction to fabulous yogurt, the way it is packaged here (in small containers, ideal for a serving), and the fact that yogurt is something always on hand in the French home.

Simplicity Itself

The recipe is simple, too: here is how it is written for a child:

3 yogurt cups of flour

2 yogurt cups of sugar

1 yogurt cup of…yogurt  etc…..

Thus, the child gets the idea of quantities, uses something simple as a measure, and understands how easy it is to make a cake…it sets them on the good road to life in every way, for when they come home with the recipe and make it for their family (clever moms already know the recipe yet they still act surprised!), they are the center of the world and on their way to becoming a great cook.

Hunting Down the Recipe

I, of course, had never heard of yogurt cake and when I tasted this version at my son’s school my heart stopped, it was so DELICIOUS.  The moment was a birthday party for one his classmates; I was the “room mom” and the girls’ mother had dropped off the cake early in the morning.   I hunted down the little birthday girl to ask her if she could ask her mother, who wasn’t present, for the recipe.  The next day my son came home with the hand-written recipe and I’ve been making this version of a yogurt cake ever since. It is the best I’ve ever tasted, and has become my “go-to” cake recipe, the one that takes moments to make and can be adapted in a million ways.

Valentine Treat

So, make this, color it with the secret ingredient that you’ll find in the recipe (and the video!) and treat your loved ones to a heart shaped bit of sweet love for this Valentine’s day!

I’ve frosted the cake with meringue, for fun.  You follow my example or use your own favorite icing!


The amount of coloring will depend on the type that you use. Know that the beet juice will turn the cake more of a sunset hue, and that alone is very romantic! And the type of frosting you use is absolutely your choice OR simply dust the cake with confectioner's sugar!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: beet juice, flour, sugar, vanilla, yogurt


  • 8 tablespoons;½ cup; 4ounces;125g unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups;200g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup;200g vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup;125ml plain, full-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon best-quality vanilla extract
  • Scant 1/3 cup;75ml fresh beet juice or other red food coloring


  • Butter and flour one 9-1/2 inch (24cm) round cake pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190C; gas 5).
  • Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat, remove the heat and cool. Melt the chocolate in a small pan over very low heat, checking and stirring it often. Remove from the heat to cool.
  • Sift together the flour, the baking powder and the salt onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until they are light and pale yellow. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the eggs and sugar, whisking to incorporate them as you do. Fold in the yogurt and vanilla, then the melted butter.
  • Pour two-thirds of the batter into the prepared cake pan. Fold the melted chocolate into the remaining one-third of the batter until it is thoroughly combined. Pour the chocolate batter on top of the plain batter that is already in the cake pan and run a rubber scraper through the batter several times to swirl the two batters together
  • Bake the cake in the center of the oven until it is slightly mounded and your finger leaves a very slight impression when you touch the top of it, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack. Serve when it is fully cool, or the following day. If you like, you may dust the top with powdered sugar.

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