With Fireworks

I wouldn’t say I’m a particularly patriotic person, but every year I tend to find myself participating in a get together of one sort or another on the Fourth of July. Where I grew up, in Phoenix, Arizona, fireworks did not happen every summer because of the risk of brush fires. Then, in college I moved to a mountain town in Northern AZ where the entire area surrounding the city was liable to spontaneously combust at the mere mention of an open flame.
It wasn’t until last year, when I moved to Chicago that fireworks were back on the table, in a big way. We live right next to a park that literally crackles and sizzles with the sounds of explosives for the entire holiday weekend, and rather than find that annoying I think it’s great. I think it’s great that once a year it’s entirely acceptable to set off explosives in a public park.

So, with the sounds of whizzing cherry bombs infiltrating my kitchen, I decided to make a French cake and top it with strawberries and blueberries. “Why not pay homage to the contributions the French have made to American culture,” I thought. (Well actually, I got the berries because they were on sale and they looked so sweet and delicious, and the french cake has been on my baking set list for a while now.)
I could have made biscuit-like shortcakes instead, but this moist, citrus-y cake evokes something a little more elegant.

I can not and will not take any credit for the cake recipe. It unabashedly comes from Molly Wizenberg, author of “Orangette” one of my favorite food blogs. The only tweeks I made were adding valencia orange zest, vanilla, and baking it in a loaf pan as opposed to a 9X9 round, cake pan.

French Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp valencia orange zest
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lemon and orange juice
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Heat oven to 350. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and zest until just incorporated.
In a large bowl, mix yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Slowly fold in flour until a creamy batter.
Lastly, add in the oil and mix thoroughly until smooth. Pour batter into an oiled and floured loaf or cake pan. Bake for 25-35 mins until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. When done, transfer to a rack and drizzle the syrup over the warm cake.

For the fruit topping, I simply rinsed the berries, quartered the strawberries and tossed with a bit of the juice and about 2 TBSP of confectioner’s sugar. Let the berries sit in the fridge for an hour or two so the juice from the berries can pool at the bottom of the bowl.

I topped mine with hand-whipped cream. For that, I pour the cream into a chilled bowl, add a few TBSP of confectioner’s sugar and a drop of vanilla and beat until stiff.


I’m certainly not a nationalistic type, but I have to thank the French for their cake recipe. I intend to devour every bite under a sky of sparklers.
Happy Fourth.